Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Jack Kirby
Publication Date: January 1962
The Skrulls are an alien race planning on invading earth. They first decide to impersonate the Fantastic Four and make the world hate our heroes. Then, with the Fan Four neutralized, the Skrulls will invade the planet and live happily ever after. Easy enough, except the Fantastic Four catch onto it after the team is taken captive for evil deeds they did not, in fact, commit. Proving difficult to contain, the Fantastic Four escape, and they send the Human Torch to infiltrate the impostors. When the Fantastic Four discover the Skrulls, they sneak onto the Skrull spaceship, impersonating Skrulls (how the tables have turned). They inform Skrull senior management that Earth is not a suitable planet for taking over. This works, the Skrulls are fooled, and the Fantastic Four return to Earth. As for the actual Skrulls who are left behind (three of the ones who posed as the Fan Four), Reed hypnotizes them into forgetting they are Skrulls in the first place. Fantastic Four: 1, Skrulls: 0, Mole Man: Still 0.
The Skrulls, a nasty group of shapeshifters who wrecked havoc in the Marvel Universe in the company wide crossover Secret Invasion storyline, are first introduced here. While they're clever enough to come up with funky devices to impersonate the powers of the Fan Four, they're outsmarted by Reed Richards explaining to them that earth is inhospitable, and showing them comic book illustrations as proof. Then, Reed hypnotizes the remaining Skrulls on earth into thinking that they are cows for the rest of their natural born Skrull lives. Of the many ignominious defeats the Skrulls will suffer at the hands of Marvel heroes, this is a big one. We've also got some more infighting among the members of the Fantastic Four, with Thing remaining the instigator. This issue, he argues with Mr. Fantastic and Torch. We also see Reed blaming himself for the accident that made the team all...well...fantastic. The whole monster persona that Thing takes on is a recurring theme in a lot of Stan Lee stories, especially the Hulk, which is coming up soon.
- Thing's desire to smash everything seems like a predecessor of "Hulk smash!"
- Even at this early stage, the human populus of the Marvel Universe (MU) has doubt in its heroes
- The Fan 4 apparently have a number of secret "apartment" hideouts.
- Reed fools the Skrulls with pictures from other Marvel comics, notably Journey into Mystery and Strange Tales. Totally meta.
- Ben transforms human for a panel or two before its back to being the Thing
- Keeping anyone locked up, for any reason, is a hard thing to do in the MU
How do you stop a Skrull? Here's how!
Next: Fantastic Four # 3