91. The Thing Enslaved

Issue Ninety-One, October 1969

“I am Torgo! I exist for one purpose alone! I am trained to slay my foe when the great games begin! You know him well! He is called The Thing! And only his death will justify my life!”

The Fantastic Four tries to locate Ben Grimm who is being spirited away to the outermost planet of the Skrull galaxy. The world of Kral is a place where 1930s gangster culture is recreated and slaves are gathered and gambled on. Reed eventually deduces that Ben has been captured by the green-skinned shape changing race. The last we see, Ben, the inside favorite,  is in a cell with the current champ, Torgo, and Reed resolves to find him and bring him back.

This issue is a slow build up to what one would hope to be an action-packed climax. There’s not much of it here, but being introduced to a new Skrull planet does need some space. The concept that a whole Skrull planet would ape a small selected history of another only barely squeaks by on the acceptability chart. What manages to sell it is that the very core concept of the Skrulls is imitation. The idea that even their cultural identity is as fungible as their personal one is consistent. A species that could change the way they look at will would likely throw themselves quite far into fashionable imitation, and would insist on their surroundings being as transient as their appearance. 1930s earth is a bit of a conceit, but it is explained at least, in a largely entertaining way.Fantastic Four issue Ninety-One 91The Skrulls themselves  look rather different than last we saw them om this title, which was in passing in issue 48, but more in depth in the rather uncanonical issue 37. This is the least human that we’ve seen them look, and in the future they will be regularized to look just a touch less alien. Their ears are much larger, extending to over the tops of their heads, their noses are flattened wide, and their eyes are glassy, dark, and completely reflective. These are all elements that will be removed, leaving the green skin, the furrowed chin, and the purple and black standard jumpsuit. It’s a good look on them, however, and the element of something slightly inhuman, instead of fairly comical, that is being concealed is one that is sad to be missing.Fantastic Four issue Ninety-One 91 Ultimately, the strength of this issue will depend on the pay-off of the next. It has few merits of its own, but is a strong lead into the next installment.


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