EMPEROR DORREK I
Real Name: Dorrek
Identity/Class: Extraterrestrial (Skrull) shape-changer and technology user (Distant Past)
Group Membership: Skrull Empire, Skrull Royal Family
Enemies: Kree barbarians (especially Morag)
Known Relatives: None
Base of Operations: Skrullos, Drox system, Andromeda Galaxy
First Appearance: Avengers I#133 (March, 1975)
Powers/Abilities: Dorrek I is presumed to have possessed the normal shape-shifting abilities of the Deviant Skrull race.
Paraphenalia/Transportation: Dorrek I traveled in what he implied was an "interstellar vessel" (but which was actually capable of intergalactic journeys).
History: Very little is known about the life of Emperor Dorrek I prior to his fateful visit to Hala. Although nothing is known about his family, he presumably inherited his throne from his father. Also, the "Skrull Empire" which Dorrek ruled was a federation based on free trade with their "circle of favored worlds" and not a militaristic regime devoted to conquering those worlds.
(Avengers I#133) - Long ago, in the Kree Year Zero, a Skrull starship landed
on the planet Hala, located in the Pama star system within the dwarf galaxy later known on
Earth as the Large Magellanic Cloud. Hala was then inhabited by two sentient native species:
the humanoid Kree and the Cotati plant-people. As members of both races approached, a door
opened in the side of the starship and a Skrull wearing a crown emerged, flanked by two other
Skrulls. When enough of the natives had gathered, the crowned Skrull spoke these words:
Creatures of Hala - - Before you stands Dorrek, emperor of a world whose name no outworlder could ever pronounce, and to a race named Skrull! We are, to put it simply, a proud people! Some might even call us imperious! Yet we find our opinion borne out again and again in the heights our civilization has reached! In the past decade, we have even perfected interstellar vessels - - and in my scouts' journeyings since, we have gone beyond our own world to find that no other race anywhere approaches us!
But Skrulls are not warriors! We refuse to sully our hands with such counter-productive occupations! Rather, I journey to each inhabited planet my scouts discover, to offer a more beneficial proposition - - We shall provide our knowledge and technology in exchange for your loyalty - - and, of course, your resources, so that we may create new wonders for all!
Oh, there is one more point: We wish to avoid any dissention between Hala's two races regarding which will represent the planet to us - - so we further propose a small test, to settle the question definitively and permanently.
In his mind, Dorrek then heard the telepathic voice of a Cotati asking,
"What test?" Dorek replied:
We shall conduct a select party from each race to a different uninhabited planetoid to remain for one year with complete supplies. At the termination of that time, whichever group has done the most with themselves shall be adjudged most worthy! Agreed?
The Cotati found the decision to be a simple one. They sensed arrogance but no deceit in the Skrulls and they wished to grow. Accordingly, the Cotati accepted. However, the Kree were too barbaric to allow themselves a luxury like trust so they debated their course all the rest of the day. In the end it was their mighty leader, Morag, who decided to accept the offer simply because he had heard no way by which he could gracefully decline.
The following morning, the Skrullian starship departed from Hala carrying 17 Kree and 17 Cotati. Sometime later, the Cotati debarked upon a barren moon where they were abandoned, alone, for one full year. Although they all appeared to go to sleep, the Cotati actually used their mental powers to search out water and ancient seeds buried deep in the planetoid's crust. Combining these elements caused the barren moon to become covered with limitless growth so that, by the end of the year, the Cotati's efforts had resulted in the creation of a beautiful garden.
Meanwhile, the Skrull starship had traveled to Earth's moon where the Kree
were to begin their efforts. Dorrek addressed the Kree before he left:
Do not let the large planet below make you feel any less alone, Kree! There is life down there - - but it is still trilling its cilia! We have given you an artificial atmosphere so that you might survive here - - we have given you tools - - It is up to you to finish the job.
Once the Skrull starship had lifted off, the Kree immediately began working, following plans that had been carefully laid during the voyage. Using the rudimentary technology left them by the Skrulls, the strength of their muscles and the militaristic, regimented style that would become their trademark, the Kree created a gargantuan, gleaming city. The Skrulls who returned to retrieve the Kree were extremely impressed and during the journey back to Hala the 17 Kree were all full of hope and pride as they envisioned a long and glorious future for their people in the Skrull Empire. However, upon reaching Hala, Morag learned that the other Skrulls were more favorably impressed with the successes of the Cotati.
(Captain Marvel I#38 (fb) - BTS) - Some Skrulls said that the Cotati, by their nurturing of a park, were the better able to deal with progeress.
(Avengers I#133) - The next morning, when Dorrek and some of his men emerged
from their ship, they were greeted by Morag who informed them that, while they had slept,
the Kree had solved the problem of Hala's representation to them. Dorrek responded:
Oh? And how did you accomplish that?
Morag stated that the Kree had destroyed their opposition. Appalled, Dorrek
You -- did what? Fools! Did you believe this would earn our favor? Skrulls may deal with barbarians, but we do not condone barbarism! Now, Hala shall be shut forever from our circle of favored worlds!
Morag responded defiantly, stating that Dorrek was the fool and that the Kree, after a year of Skrull technology, were not going to return to their former ignorance. Declaring that if that was Dorrek's decision, then the Skrull had likewise decided to die, Morag then commanded his followers to "Take them!" Although only armed with primitive weapons, the Kree were able to quickly slaughter Dorrek and his crew since the Skrulls were not then warriors. With all the Skrulls dead, Morag spoke to his people about his plans to take the secrets of the Skrull ship and use them to destroy the all craven Skrulls so that the Kree would reign as undisputed masters of the stars!
(Avengers I#133 (fb) - BTS) - The Skrulls never knew what had happened to Emperor Dorrek and his starship until, decades later, a Kree armada attacked the Skrulls' "world" without warning, and thus began the eternal Kree-Skrull War!
(Captain Marvel I#38 (fb) - BTS) - Over the succeeding millennia, the Kree revised the story of how the Kree-Skrull War began. It eventually became the parable of the first Kree and the Plant-People that was taught to all Kree children as soon as they became aware of a society around them.
(Avengers I#133) - In recent years, as part of a quest to learn the origin of Mantis, a group of four Avengers (Thor, Mantis, Iron Man and Hawkeye) used a synchro-staff provided by Immortus to journey back in time so that they could observe the history of the Cotati. Some of the events which they witnessed were those which led to the beginning of the Kree-Skrull War.
(Skrulls! (fb) - BTS) - More recently, in preparation for their upcoming Secret Invasion of Earth, Queen Veranke's faithful Chancellor Kal'Du included a dossier on Emperor Dorrek I as part of the "Warbook Files" he compiled for her.
Comments: Created by Steve Englehart (author), Sal Buscema & Joe Staton (artists).
A few fun facts about the naming of Skrull emperors:
1. The first modern-day Skrull emperor appeared in Fantastic Four I#18 (September, 1963) but went unidentified for over fifteen years.
2. The Emperor Dorrek from ancient times first appeared (and was named) in Avengers I#133 (March, 1975).
3. The modern-day emperor was identified as "Dorrek" in Fantastic Four I#205 (April, 1979)...shortly before being assassinated by his wife.
4. The modern-day Dorrek was (posthumously) revealed to be the seventh Skrull emperor with that name in Marvel: The Lost Generation#11 (April, 2000).
Some online sources claim that Dorrek I is an ancestor of Emperor Dorrek VII but it is known that Dorrek VII gained the throne by killing the previous emperor and marrying his daughter, R'Klll. This would seem to indicate that Dorrek VII was not directly descended from Dorrek I. On the other hand, given that the emperorship can be inherited by blood relatives, it may be that, after ten thousand generations of marriages, EVERY member of the Skrull noblility can truthfully claim Dorrek I as an ancestor.
Although Emperor's Dorrek's story ended in Avengers I#133, the history of the Kree and the Cotati was continued in the following issue which revealed that the pacifists among the Kree had become a small but cohesive minority who were driven underground by the warlike majority in the Kree Year 476. "Decades" later, the pacifists were contacted by the now-rooted descendents of the slaughtered Cotati and the two groups secretly united. And it was "a century" after that when, after defending themselves from an unprovoked attack by soldiers, the priests were exiled from Hala by the Supreme Intelligence. By my count, this would mean that the Kree were already being ruled by the Supreme Intelligence sometime before the Kree Year 700 but the Official Handbooks state that the Supremor was elected absolute ruler of the empire in the Kree Year 4791 and wasn't even created until the Kree Year 4538. Huh.
Sadly, nothing has ever been revealed about what other inhabited planets had been visited by Emperor Dorrek before Hala. Presumably at least some of them had become part of the Skrulls' circle of favored worlds before the war with the Kree began.
What If...? scenarios
Since the ancient Kree-Skrull War seems to be something which existed in many (if not all) of the realities that made up the Marvel Multiverse, I can't help but wonder how significantly universal history would have been altered if the First Contact between the Kree and the Skrulls had gone differently. For one thing, it has never actually been established that the Skrulls were going to choose the Cotati over the Kree, only that Morag feared that they were going to do so. So, What If Morag had not been the leader of the Kree when the Skrulls arrived? Would a more reasonable (i.e., less "stark, raving crazy") leader have waited to hear which race the Skrulls had chosen before reacting? Of course, given their warlike and brutal nature, even a less-crazy Kree leader might have resorted to violence once their loss was confirmed...but maybe not.
Sympathy for the shape-shifters?
I started collecting the Avengers in 1976 (I think) and some of the first back issues I ever bought included the whole Kang/Mantis/Immortus storyline. I believe that it was because of this early exposure to the origins of the Kree-Skrull War that I've never seen the Skrulls in as negative a light as I've viewed the Kree. Sure, the modern-day Skrulls are generally just as vile as the Kree but back then, before the war, they were a peaceful race while the Kree were (and remain) murderous barbarians. I suppose that my slight sympathy for the Skrulls has something to do with the fact that, despite their roughly equivalent vileness, the denizens of the Marvel Universe fear the Kree and try to defeat them while the Skrulls are despised and often killed outright upon detection. Even some Earth heroes who like to proclaim that "Heroes never kill" have shown little hesitation in using lethal force against Skrulls. I suspect that it's because the Kree (even those with blue skin) look more "like us" and thus are inherently more deserving of humane treatment than those green-skinned, big-eared, wrinkle-chinned reptiles. Then again, this may just be because the Kree, while equally as hostile towards Earth, haven't been as hands-on when they've attempted to destroy Earth while the Skrulls had extensively infiltrated Earth's population during their ill-fated Secret Invasion. Personally, the next time the Kree attack Earth I would like, for the sake of even-handedness, to see Earth's heroes gunning them down with as much ferocity as they did to the Skrulls.
Internal problems with the story
When I first read this story I accepted all of the facts presented within it at face value. It was only years later that I realized that there were certain logicial inconsistencies with the plot. Two of these problems involve what the TV Tropes website calls "Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale."
The first problem concerns how far Emperor Dorrek's party traveled on their recruitment mission. They began (presumably) at the Skrull homeworld in the Andromeda Galaxy and then travelled over 2 million light-years to the planet Hala in the Greater Magellanic Cloud and from there a further 150,000 light-years to the planet Earth in the Milky Way Galaxy. This is quite a distance, especially for a race which had only recently perfected "interstellar" vessels, starships whose range (one would assume) should have been far less than that of intergalactic vessels. Plus, why would a fledgling star empire have any need to venture beyond their home galaxy? With an estimated one TRILLION stars, the Andromeda Galaxy is the largest in the Local Group and so the Skrulls should have had plenty of room to expand before they needed to go outside their galaxy for resources. The fact that later stories have revealed that both Hala and Earth had been visited by the Celestials could be used to provide a explanation for why Emperor Dorrek voyaged so far away from home but so far such a retcon hasn't been attempted.
The second problem is the fact that the Kree supposedly wiped out all of the Cotati plant-people in a single night. Sure, the Kree were experienced hunters and the Cotati were both slow-moving and defenseless, but it still seems highly improbable that the Kree could have killed every Cotati on the planet so quickly. Of course, factors like the size of the Cotati population and how they were distributed around Hala could have made this outcome more plausible. If the Cotati were very few in number and they were all located in proximity to where the Skrull starship had landed, then the one-night genocide would be possible. On the other hand, if the Cotati were numerous and wide-spread, then the Kree couldn't have killed them all as they claimed. So, maybe Morag lied about the Kree having killed all of the Cotati and it was only the nearby Cotati who had been killed on that first night with the other, more distant Cotati being wiped out later, after the Skrull party had been slaughtered? This idea seems more plausible but the Synchro-Staff's narration does specify that "not one of the plant-beings (were) left alive" after the overnight genocide. Clearly, writer Steve Englehart did not spend much time considering how to commit genocide against a planetary population. In any event, the Kree entry in All-New Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z #6 (August, 2006) states that the Kree leader Morag "had his men slaughter every Cotati they could find" with no mention of what happened to the rest of the Cotati.
Alternate versions of this story
Although this story seems pretty straightforward, there have long existed versions of it in which some details are altered. The most common variant has the Skrulls taking both the Kree and the Cotati to Earth's Moon, and some versions have the slaughter of the Cotati and the Skrulls take place there as well. These ideas first appeared in the entry for the Kree in the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe II#7 (June, 1986) while the entry for the Skrulls (in issue #12) implied that the contest and the murders took place on Hala.
The entry for the Skrulls in Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Fantastic Four 2005 (August, 2005) again claims that both the contest and the slaughter took place on Earth's Moon but the Kree entry in All-New Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z #6 (August, 2006) states that the Skrulls took the Kree and Cotati groups to separate barren worlds while the subsequent murders of the Cotati (all who could be found) and the Skrulls occurred on the same (unspecified) world (which could have been either Earth's Moon or Hala). The history of the Skrulls (as related by Tony Stark) in Secret Invasion Saga (2008) also has both the Kree and Cotati representatives being taken to Earth's Moon by the Skrulls, and it too does not specify where the slaughter by the Kree took place.
While these altered histories are bad enough, some websites (those that I can't correct) have featured even more distorted versions. For example, the Marvel Database wiki article on the Cotati claims that it was because the Kree had already begun to commit genocide against the Cotati that the peaceful Skrulls tried to divert them by proposing the contest between the two races but their attempt ultimately failed and the Kree killed the Skrull party before resuming their genocide of the Cotati.
Of course, this idea that both the contest and the slaughter took place on Earth's Moon does have one advantage over the original story. As mentioned above, the overnight slaughter of ALL of the Cotati is almost impossible if it took place on Hala but very plausible if it took place on Earth's Monn where there were only 17 Cotati present. Still, despite this I prefer the original story in which the Skrulls brought the Kree back to Hala before the hostilities broke out, and I can only hope that future editions of the Official Handbook will correct these past errors by restoring the original history.
When did the Kree-Skrull War begin?
The story in Avengers I#133 provided only a few temporal references: Immortus sent Mantis and three Avengers to "a time millennia past" where they entered "the continuum of Kree Year Zero" in order to observe events which occurred in the Kree's "first year of recorded history." It was almost ten years later before any further information about the first meeting between the Skrull and Kree races was provided, and that new data was supplied by the first edition of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe. Unfortunately, the temporal references in the five entries which involved the histories of the Kree and the Skrulls were quite contradictory. Here's a list of those references:
1. The Kree entry (in OHotMU#6) states that "The Kree began their empire over a million years ago, within 100 years of the acquisition of interstellar technology from the then-benevolent race of Skrulls."
2. The Sentry entry (in OHotMU#9) states that the prototype Sentry was developed "in the Kree Year 1220 (approximately 80,000 years ago)."
3. The Skrulls entry (in OHotMU#10) states that in was "Approximately 10 million years ago (when) the Skrulls first ventured outside their native galaxy into the nearby Greater Magellanic Cloud and the Milky Way Galaxy (and) encountered the Kree." This resulted in "the Kree-Skrull conflict which still is waged between the two empires millions of years later."
4. The Supreme Intelligence entry (in OHotMU#11) states that it "has ruled the extraterrestrial Kree Empire for almost a million years (after having been created) by the Science Council of the Kree in the Kree Year 4538 (about 990,750 B.C.) (and) was elected absolute ruler of the entire Empire in the Kree Year 4791."
5. The Watchers entry (in OHotMU#12) states that "the Blue City on earth's moon (is) an abandoned settlement with its own atmosphere built by the alien Kree several million years ago."
Looking over this list makes it pretty clear that at that time nobody at Marvel had yet established a definitive chronology for the Marvel Universe. As a result, the Kree-Skrull War could have begun anytime between 10 million years ago and slightly over 80 thousand years ago. The fact that these same contradictory dates also appeared in the Official Handbook's Deluxe Edition when it was published in 1986 indicates that there was still no "Official Timeline" in place yet and 1993's Master Edition was totally lacking in any relevent temporal references.
Since then, the Skrulls and the Kree have each been the subject of one profile in a printed Handbook comic, with the profile on the Skrulls appearing in Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Fantastic Four 2005 (August, 2005) while the Kree's profile was in All-New Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z #6 (August, 2006). Both profiles contain a lot of detailed information and incorporate a lot of new (since 1993) information but their chronologies are significantly different. The Skrulls profile holds to the idea that first contact between the Skrulls and the Kree took place "approximately ten million years ago" and further claims that the Kree did not create the Supreme Intelligence until over nine million years after the war began. In contrast, the Kree profile states that this first contact occurred "about a million years ago." So, these two profiles show that there was no "official" consensus about Kree/Skrull history as recently as a decade ago.
However, by concentrating on the Official Handbooks I've ignored any actual stories which might provide this needed data. As it happens there are two stories which mention when the Kree-Skrull War began but they are also split as to when hostilities started. The first is Secret Invasion Saga#1 in which Tony Stark reviewed everything Earth knew about the Skrulls. Stark once refers to the Skrulls as "a hundreds of thousands of years old civilization" but he later mentions that Immortus once sent him, Thor, Hawkeye and Mantis on "a journey to...a time almost ten million years ago, during Kree Year Zero." The second story is Guardians of the Galaxy III#6, wherein Tony Stark responds to Drax's question about the Blue Area of Earth's Moon by describing it as something that "They say...was created nearly 1,000,000 years ago by alien visitors." So, once again there is no consensus on when the eons-long war actually began.
Personally, I have always totally rejected the idea that the Kree-Skrull War had begun 10 million years ago because the very idea that ANY war could last for that long seemed too unbelievable. Admittedly, this is somewhat odd because I have no trouble accepting the existence of beings like Galactus, the Celestials, the Elders of the Universe and the Watchers, all of whom are supposedly BILLIONS of years old. So, if I can accept them, why can't I do the same for a 10-million-year-long war? After giving it some thought I realized that it was because wars exist in the real world while immortal beings only exist in mythology. As a result I somehow find it easier to accept things that are totally disconnected from the real world but less inclined to do so with things that are part of our reality.
For the record, according to Mantis in Guardians of the Galaxy II#2, the then-current Earth year ("Two thousand and eight, Christian calendar") corresponded to "Sixty-eight thousand, the cycle of Bright Wing" (by the Shi'ar calendar), "Four hundred and fifty-six Khen-Vell Sah" (to the Kree) and "Shift fifteen hundred and [something]" (to the Skrulls). How this relates to "Kree Year Zero" is anyone's guess but it has been suggested that the Kree, Shi'ar and Skrull calendars now in use have probably all been reset to zero at least once since the Kree-Skrull War began.
The SKRULLS! one-shot published in 2008 was an odd variant of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe. It was presented in the form of a dossier written by Queen Veranke's loyal Chancellor Kal'Du to provide her with information about all relevant Skrull interactions with Earth and its human inhabitants. Although the data is mostly accurate (albeit biased), there are some errors and the file on Emperor Dorrek contains three. First, the title of the file is twice misspelled as "Emporer Dorrek." Second, the image of Dorrek is taken from Avengers I#133 (page 14, panel 2) but the original coloring error (which depicted the Kree with skin that was pink instead of blue) has been duplicated instead of being corrected. Third, the real world summary includes "facts" that (as discussed above) are questionable: specifically, that Dorrek ruled "ten million years ago" and that he "held (a) contest on Earth's moon between (the) Kree and Cotati."
On the plus side, the reference to Avengers #133 and the Analysis (by Kal'Du) of Dorrek's life are both accurate, so that's something.
THE HISTORY of the SKRULL RACE
This is actually one of the main reasons why I wanted to write this profile. Over the past fifty-plus years a number of revelations have been made about the history of the Skrulls and, sadly, the Editorial Powers That Be at Marvel don't seem to have devoted much thought as to how each new "fact" should (or even could) fit into the previously-established timeline. It seemed to me that a profile of Emperor Dorrek I, as the first significant Skrull from pre-modern times to be introduced into the Marvel Universe, would be an appropriate place in which to discuss these conflicting revelations.
Before getting to the list, I'd like to make an observation
regarding the reliability of the information derived from these revelations. While it's
tempting to assume that all of the "facts" presented in these comics are absolutely "true"
within the fictional continuity of the MU, it's undeniable that errors do creep in from time
to time. When that happens we can either twist stories into pretzels to make them fit as many
of those facts as possible or we can accept that sometimes the characters in these stories
are not being entirely truthful (possibly because what they believe to be true actually
isn't). In the case of the Skrulls, I can think of four reasons why some of their "facts"
might be wrong:
1. Arrogance. In the Marvel Universe, alien races, especially the imperialistic ones, tend to regard humans as inferior beings and their sense of superiority often leads them to speak in grandiose terma about the accomplishments of their race. In other words, they like to exaggerate (i.e., the "thousand thousand worlds of the Kree Empire"). So, I make a point of taking every claim they make with a (precautionary) grain of salt.
2. Revisionist history. The Skrulls have long been ruled by a totalitarian form of government, one which strives to control every aspect of the lives of its citizens. On Earth, this has included cases in which governments have denied that various mass crimes (like genocide) ever occurred so it's easy to see that the Skrull rulers could have engaged in such revisionism. Examples of this can be seen in some of the Warbook Files.
3. War propaganda. The Skrull Empire and the Kree Empire have been at war for almost one million Earth years, and propaganda is a powerful weapon which can be used to encourage a population to support the war effort. So it's reasonable to assume that both sides have used propaganda extensively, including accusing the enemy of atrocities while denying those committed by friendly forces ever happened.
4. Religious dogma. These are beliefs that are accepted by the members of a religion without being questioned or doubted. Those who reject dogma are considered non-believers or heretics, and actions may be taken to suppress any teachings which disagree with dogma. Some Skrulls are fanatical followers of a religion which worships Kly'bn the Eternal Skrull and Sl'gur't of the Infinite Names.
Finally, just to be fair, it's worth mentioning that the Synchro-Staff which guided Mantis and three Avengers through time to witness the origin of the Kree-Skrull War was later retconned into actually being a Space Phantom. This means that there was at least a chance that some of what the time-travelers were shown was false. Then again, the history shown by the Synchro-Staff does closely conform to the widely-known parable of the First Kree and the Plant-People so the Staff/Phantom probably wasn't lying (at least, not about any major details).
Chronological list of revelations about Skrulls:
1. Fantastic Four I#2 (January, 1962) - First appearance of the shape-changing aliens known as the Skrulls
2. Fantastic Four I#18 (September, 1963) - Revelation that the Skrull "home planet" is located "in the fifth quadrant of the Andromeda Galaxy"
3. Captain Marvel I#2 (June, 1968) - Revelation that the Skrulls have a "centuries-old intergalactic rivalry with the Kree" who are their "age-old enemies"
4. Avengers I#133 (March, 1975) - Revelation of how the Kree-Skrull War began in the Kree Year Zero
5. The Eternals I#1 (July, 1976) - Revelation that "space-gods" had visited Earth and created Deviants and Eternals through experimentation upon pre-humans
6. Rom#1 (December, 1979) - First appearance of the shape-changing aliens known as the Dire Wraiths
7. Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe I#9 (September, 1983) - Revelation that the Celestials had experimented upon ancient Skrullians to create Skrullian Deviants, Eternals and Normals; that the Deviants had subsequently developed powers of mimicry and eventually eradicated both the Eternal and Normal branches of their species; and that there was rumored to be a relationship between the Skrulls and the Dire Wraiths
8. Captain America Annual#7 (1983) - Revelation that the Shaper of Worlds originated as a Skrull-created Cosmic Cube and that it had once devastated two-thirds of the Andromeda Galaxy
9. Rom#50 (January, 1984) - First in-story confirmation that Dire Wraiths are "a deviant branch of Skrullkind"
10. Uncanny X-Men Annual#11 (1987) - Revelation that the Skrulls and the Kree are both "genetically frozen in place" as the result of (separately) failing the test presented by the mysterious Citadel of Light and Darkness
11. Silver Surfer III#5 (November, 1987) - First in-story confirmation that Celestial experimentation had created the shape-shifting Skrulls and the Dire Wraiths as Skrullian Deviants
12. Fantastic Four Annual#24 (1991) - First appearance of a statue to the Skrull god of war, Sl'gur't
13. Blackwulf#2 (July, 1994) - First appearance of Skrull-Prime, the last known member of the genetically stable Skrull branch
14. Blackwulf#4 (September, 1994) - Revelation that the Skrullian Deviants and Normals had shared their empire until the Deviants began to follow "the dogmatic canon of Tantalus"
15. Thunderbolts I#45 (December, 2000) - Revelation that a Skrull was one of the ancient Guardians of the Galaxy/Chosen Eight of Fate (including a different First Contact for the Kree people involving a powerful stone which was "discovered on Kree-Lar" and "drew the attention of more advanced races")
16. Secret Invasion LS (June, 2008 - January, 2009) - Revelation that the Skrull Empire, which had been secular in nature in recent decades, was previously (and originally) a theocratic empire that conquered worlds by enslaving their gods
17. Incredible Hercules#119 (September, 2008) - First appearance of Kly'bn the Eternal Skrull, last of the Skrullian Eternals
18. Incredible Hercules#120 (October, 2008) - Presentation of a dogmatic account of how and why the Skrullian Deviants ("the Changing People") wiped out their non-Deviant cousins ("the Fossil Ones" and the Eternals of Skrullos) and how Kly'bn the Eternal Skrull and Sl'gur't of the Infinite Names became the gods worshipped by the Skrullian Deviants.
As one can see, most of these revelations just add to what is known about Skrullian history and do not require much consideration. Good examples are the ideas that Skrulls are shape-shifters because of Celestial experimentation and that Dire Wraiths are actually just another type of Deviant Skrull. These new facts could be integrated into the pre-existing Skrull history without really disturbing anything. However, four of these revelations are seriously at odds with things that had been revealed in earlier stories and care should be taken when trying to figure out where exactly they fit.
1. The Shaper of Worlds began his existence as a Cosmic
Cube created long ago by Skrull scientists
I really liked this origin for the Shaper of Worlds. Not only did it explain the mystery of why the Shaper's face resembled that of a white-skinned Skrull, it also established a link between two very powerful reality-warpers. However, the one problem that I had with this origin is that it doesn't say much about the state of the Skrull civilization during the time that the Shaper was a Cube. The Shaper claimed that his eventual rampage "destroyed two-thirds of the Skrull galaxy (and sent) that empire back into barbarism." This limited amount of information also doesn't tell us when the Skrull Cube was created or the size of the empire at the time.
At first glance, there would seem to be only two logical options: either the Cube was created before Dorrek's ill-fated voyage or afterwards. If the Cube was wielded by an emperor who ruled before Dorrek, then the empire must have been confined to a single star system (since it was Dorrek who first began expanding the Skrull Empire to other worlds). This option avoids the question of why any Skrull emperor who had possessed a Cosmic Cube wouldn't use it against the genocidal Kree. Also, if the power-mad emperor had ruled before Dorrek, then it could be that Dorrek and the Skrulls of his era were not warriors because their culture had rejected the violence which they associated with that earlier emperor whose attitudes had previously sent their civilization back into barbarism.
On the other hand, if the Skrulls had created their Cosmic Cube at some point after the Kree-Skrull War had begun, then it seems unlikely that that war would have continued for very long after that creation. Either the Skrull emperor would have used the Cube against the Kree (perhaps by changing all the Kree soldiers into little blue cockroaches and then transporting them to a location where an army of Skrulls equipped with iron-shod boots were waiting?) or, if it had been for some reason impossible to use the Cube for war, then the Kree would have been able to conquer the Skrulls once the Cube rebelled and sent the Skrull Empire back into barbarism. In any event, the war would have ended either during or soon after that unidentified emperor's reign.
However, there's actually a third possibility: the power-mad emperor did use the Cosmic Cube to wipe out most (but not all) of the Kree race and then, many years later, the Cube rebelled and sent the Skrulls back into barbarism. This would have effectively reset both races back to a state where they would have to spend thousands of years rebuilding their civilizations and developing advanced technology before they could encounter each other again and resume their war. However, I've never read about anything like this theory in any Marvel story.
There's one more thing to consider. Emperor Dorrek I is credited with being the first Skrull leader to expand his race's influence to other, alien worlds and this may well be true. However, given how little has been revealed about ancient Skrull history, it's possible that the Skrull Empire which existed prior to the Cosmic Cube disaster had also expanded to include other worlds but that this part of their history was forgotten during the chaos of that empire's fall to barbarism.
2. Skrullian Deviants and Normals shared their empire until
relatively recent times
In the beginning, the Skrulls from Outer Space were just an alien race who could change their shapes. It wasn't until 21 years later that the Official Handbook revealed that their powers came from them being the Deviant results of Celestial experimentation and that they had wiped out the Eternal and Normal branches of their species. And it was another 4 years before their racial history was finally depicted on-panel, along with the fact that, after the two types of Deviants destroyed both the Eternals and the Latents, the more humanoid Deviants drove the less humanoid Dire Wraiths away and then began to carve out their empire.
It was 7 years later, in the sadly short-lived Blackwulf series, that two things challenged this account of Skrull history. First, readers met Skrull-Prime, a member of the genetically stable Skrull sub-species that had supposedly been wiped out. Second, that Skrull's pursuer, when he found himself confronting the alien Deviant Lord Tantalus, immediately stopped fighting, stated that "The Skrulls might still be sharing their empire with the inferior Normals had it not been for the dogmatic cananon of Tantalus" and asked that he be allowed to live so that he could serve Tantalus.
This statement is significant for two reasons. First, although Tantalus was known to be over 25,000 Earth-years old, it has never even been suggested that he was MUCH older than that. This would imply that the destruction of the Normal and Eternal branches of the Skrull species took place relatively recently. Second, the Skrull pilot's use of the term "still sharing their empire" with the Normals clearly indicates that, at one time, the Skrullian Deviants and Normals DID share their empire. This would contradict the idea that the shape-shifters wiped out the other two branches of Skrulls BEFORE they set out to found their empire.
I honestly don't know why Glenn Herdling wrote that dialogue for the Skrull pilot but, taking it at face value, it does seem that he actually meant for it to significantly rewrite Skrull history. Unfortunately, Blackwulf ended up being such a little-known series that hardly anyone remembers it and his changes certainly never made it into any of the Official Handbooks (except for the Skrulls! one-shot). As a result, writers of later Skrullcentric stories were unaware of those changes and thus did not take them into acount when they added their own revelations.
With that in mind, should Herdling's changes be regarded as valid? I'd say yes but others may disagree and for them I present the following ways in which the Skrull pilot's statement and its implications can be explained away. First, the "still sharing (our) empire" comment ccould just mean that the Skrulls consider their empire to have begun back when the only planet they ruled was their homeworld, Skrullos. If so, then the Skrullian Deviants and Normals may have shared this empire, then the Deviants wiped out the Normals and began to spread out into space.
Second, the whole idea of the Deviant Skrulls being inspired
by Tantalus to wipe out their Normal and Eternals cousins at a time before Tantalus is known
to have been alive is a trickier problem. I've come up with the following three theories:
1. Tantalus actually is much older than had previously been established. Not impossible but there's no evidence to support it. Also, given his ego, it would be uncharacteristic of Lord Tantalus not to ever have boasted about this proof of how superior he was to others.
2. At some point in the future, Tantalus will travel back in time to the Skrullos of the past and while there he will inspire the Deviant Skrulls to massacre their Eternal and Normal cousins. Again, not impossible, but there's also no evidence. Plus, while time travel is the only way by which some continuity problems can be solved, it is an extreme solution, one that should generally only be used as a last resort.
3. The Skrull pilot knew of Tantalus by reputation and was afraid to face him so he LIED as a way to appease the powerful Deviant in the hopes of saving his own life. While it would not be out of character for a Skrull to use deception to survive, in this case his story is supported by the existence of the Warbook File on Tantalus that Chancellor Kal'Du prepared for Queen Veranke. Oddly, that dossier describes Tantalus as "An alien possibly created by the rogue Dreaming Celestial centuries ago" but doesn't seem to notice the chronological discrepancy.
As I indicated earlier, I like the idea that the Deviant Skrulls built their empire alongside their Normal cousins and that the two sub-species shared it until only a few tens of thousands of years ago. It would also be convenient if it was the sudden Tantalus-inspired interest in racial purity that led them to try to also exterminate the Dire Wraiths at the same time. However, this is just my opinion.
One last observation about this sub-topic. Morag and the Kree barbarians were able to kill Dorrek and his party so easily because the Skrulls of that era were not warriors. However, their pacifism did not exlain why the Skrulls didn't simply change themselves into forms which would have enabled them to escape to safety. Could it be that they didn't shape-shift because they didn't have that ability? Might it be that Dorrek and his party were actually Skrullian Normals? Sure, this is only speculation on my part, and the fact that Skrull-Prime looks somewhat different from all other known Skrulls, including Dorrek I, could be taken as evidence against that theory. On the other hand, Dorrek lived so long ago and it's possible that in his time the Skrullian Deviants and Normals were almost identical in appearance. Over the millennia, the Deviants retained their original appearance but the Normals gradually evolved until, by the 20th Century, they looked like Skrull-Prime. Or maybe Skrull-Prime is just an odd-looking Normal? Just a thought.
3. The Chosen Eight of Fate were an ancient team who guarded
galactic peace and whose members included a male Skrull and a female Blue Kree
Back in 2000, Fabian Nicieza wrote a Thunderbolts storyline which revealed that, millennian ago, there had existed an interstellar team of guardians of the galaxy known as the Chosen Eight of Fate. These representatives of eight different species had been artificially evolved ("genetically remade") by exposure to the energies from the Lifestone Tree which had been created by a multi-species group of scientists who had brought together a number of stones that were "geological survivors of the Big Bang." Eventually, the Lifestone Tree was disassembled and its components were caught in a warp drive implosion which shattered them and scattered their fragments across the galaxy. Some of those fragments ended up in Earth's solar system where they mutated and/or empowered a number of humans.
This storyline was not bad but it's biggest flaw was that it gave the Kree a new First Contact story, one that was totally different from that which is described in this profile. According to the Kree Supreme Intelligence, when the Kree race was still young, a stone of power was discovered on Kree-Lar. The Kree split the stone in half, creating the Alpha and Omega Stones out of it and killing thousands of Kree in the process. The existence of these two stones attracted scientists from more advanced races who came to Kree-Lar and brought their own stones of power with them, eventually discovering that all their stones were remnants of the previous universe. This idea that the Kree were still primitve was supported by the fact that the images which Karla Sofen received (from the memories of the Blue Kree woman Ajes'ha that had been archived within the Moonstone which gave Sofen her powers) showed Ajes'ha and her fellow Kree all dressed in animal skins and wielding simple weapons like spears.
I'm going to pause for a moment and state that I find this type of continuity error to be totally baffling. I mean, Fabian Nicieza must have been aware of the story of how the Kree's first ever extra-planetary contact was with the Skrulls and how it led to the Kree-Skrull War, so why would he write a different First Contact story? It makes no sense to me.
So, there is clearly a discontinuity here. The solution presented in the profile on the Skrulls from Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Fantastic Four 2005 (August, 2005) was to simply ignore the whole idea that the Kree were actually primitive at the time when the Alpha and Omega Stones were discovered. Instead, the Handbook claims that their discovery took place at some point after the Supreme Intelligence was created and during a period when the Kree-Skrull war had lulled enough for the two empires to pursue joint ventures. No explanation was provided for why the Supreme Intelligence had seemingly lied to Sofen or why Ajes'ha's memories showed her as being part of a primitive Kree civilization.
The only alternative explanation I can think of is HIGHLY speculative and is based on the fact that the Supreme Intelligence's words and Ajes'ha's memories both indicate that the original Stone of Power was discovered on "Kree-Lar." This is notable because everybody (except, apparently, Mr. Nicieza) knows that "Hala" is/was the Kree homeworld whereas "Kree-lar" was a planet colonized by the Kree which was for some time the capital of the Kree Empire. Anyway, my idea was inspired by another bit of speculation, namely that the Skrulls had created their Cosmic Cube after the Kree-Skrull War began, that the Skrull emperor had used the Cube to wipe out most (but not all) of the Kree and that the Skrulls themselves had been similarly diminshed when the Cube later rebelled. In this scenario, groups of Kree had been left alive on their various colonies and Ajes'ha was a Blue Kree who was born on Kree-Lar after the Cube devastation and before the Stone of Power had been discovered. It's not a bad theory but it does depend entirely on a series of events that only exist as speculation. Oh well, maybe Ajes'ha and the other warriors in her memories were just the Kree version of historical reenactors?
4. The way in which the Skrullian Deviants wiped out the
Normals and the Eternals of their race is described in their holy Book of Worlds
Thanks to Brian Michael Bendis and his Secret Invasion miniseries, the Skrulls were retroactively made into a race of religious fanatics whose empire-building was a holy war to convert and "save" aliens living on other worlds. As their part of the crossover storyline, Incredible Hercules writers Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente chose to do a four-part "Sacred Invasion" storyline in which Hercules led a God Squad on a quest to find and defeat the Skrull gods so that their followers' invasion of Earth would fail. Apparently, this is important because there is a metaphysical connection between gods and their followers: If one falls, then the other falls as well. Oddly, this connection has never been observed outside of this storyline.
Anyway, the finale of "Sacred Invasion" begins with a three-page flashback to events recorded in "the Passage of the 1 of the Book of Worlds" which describes how the "Changing People rose up against the last unchanging Unworthies of the Homeworld, Skrullos" and revealed themselves before they killed everyone who was not like them. Sl'gur't, Headwoman of the Changing, then led her people to kill the last of the Eternals of Skrullos with their "science magic." However, when Kly'bn named himself, looked upon them and spoke, the Changing People suddenly all knew "the Truth of Kly'bn's words" and from that point on they believed in and followed him. And then Sl'gur't married Kly'bn and "the Truth transformed them from Eternal and Deviant into gods, drawn up into Heaven."
Okay, let's start by saying that I have some seriously mixed feelings about this storyline. On the positive side, the gods involved were interesting and I liked finding out more about the Skrull religion beyond their mantra, "He loves you." I also liked the introduction of the idea that each the races of the universe had their own collective racial unconsciousness. And the story, in and of itself, was not bad.
On the negative side, I really disliked the retcon that claimed that the Skrull Empire had, until recently, been conquering alien races because they were fighting a holy war. Also, given that the Celestials have always been science-based and not at all supernatural, the idea that Kly'bn and Sl'gur't could *somehow* be transformed into gods didn't make much sense to me.
However, the biggest problem that I had with this storyline was that it ignored the revelations mentioned above: specifically, that it was the canon of Tantalus that inspired the Deviants to kill their Normal and Eternal cousins and that these genocides took place far more recently than had been previously described. I'm going to give Pak and Van Lente the benefit of the doubt and assume that their storyline did not take those changes to Skrull history into account because they had never even heard of Blackwulf (just as Roger Stern hadn't when he wrote Marvel: The Lost Generation).
Fortunately, there are a few weaknesses that make it not totally impossible to include the Blackwulf revelations despite what the Book of Worlds says. First, although the setting for the events in the Book of Worlds flashback appears to be primitive, the text doesn't actually state when the uprising against the last of the "Fossil Ones" took place. Plus, that reference to the science magic that was used to kill the Skrullian Eternals does indicate that a higher level of technology must have existed on Skrullos at that time.
Second, there's the fact that the Book of Worlds, as a religious text, only recorded what Kly'bn's followers believed had happened and that was not necessarily a true history. Indeed, once both Kly'bn and Sl'gur't were dead, the Book changed and, before destroying itself, told the Skrull believers that there was nothing special about them, that they had caused untold death and suffering for nothing, and that the gods would no longer help them lie to themselves. As I see it, this passage clearly indicates that the Book had not always been truthful, despite what the Skrulls believed about it.
Profile by Donald Campbell.
Dorrek I has no confirmed connections to
Emperor Dorrek I also has no known connections to
The Skrull starship in which Emperor Dorrek traveled to Hala, and which transported the Kree and Cotati contestants to their respective moons and returned them to Hala. After the Kree slaughtered Dorrek and the other Skrulls in his party, they studied the scientific "secrets" of the starship and used them to develop advanced technology of their own. Within decades, the Kree had created an armada of warships with which they attacked the Skrulls and thus initiated the Kree-Skrull War.
Although Dorrek stated that his people had only perfected their "interstellar vessels" in the last decade, the fact that this starship was able to travel from the Andromeda Galaxy to the Greater Magellanic Cloud, and then to the Milky Way Galaxy and back, with the latter journeys apparently lasting only days, indicates that the Skrulls had actually achieved interGALACTIC travel as well.
Dorrek's starship resembled a stereotypical "flying saucer" or "flying disc." Although its exact specifications are unknown, the starship appears to have been between 25 and 30 feet tall, and was made up of three round layers, each being perhaps 10 feet in height. The only visible entranceway was on the second layer and was in the form of double doors located at the front of the ship. Given that the doorway appeared to be 25% taller than Dorrek himself, if we assume that Dorrek was about 6 feet tall, then the dorway would have been about 7.5 feet tall. Using that approximate height and comparing it to the widths of the various layers of the ship, it can be estimated that the lowest layer of the ship was about 64 feet wide, the middle layer was about 56 feet wide, and the dome-like topmost layer was about 26 feet wide at its base. Additionally, the starship had two large fins which were mounted on the second layer. Beginning at the midpoint of the starship, these fins swept upwards towards the back for about one-eighth of the circumference of the ship. It is not known what purpose was served by these fins but they were apparently retractable (since they only appeared in the first two panels and then were gone).
The starship's hull was composed of a silvery-white metal which has not been identified. The lowest level appeared to be made up of between 18 and 20 segments that had been joined together. Since there was a circular cavity in its underside, this level was a torus instead of a solid disk. The middle layer, in which the doorway was located, also had at least 12 small round openings which, being located at head level, resembled portholes. The uppermost layer was a smooth hemisphere with no apparent markings or openings.
Very little is known about the capabilities of this starship. It could fly through planetary atmospheres and physically land on planets or moons. It could travel through space across even intergalactic distances. And, despite its relatively small size, the starship was (somehow) able to transport Emperor Dorrek, his crew, seventeen Cotati and seventeen Kree, all at the same time. Given the peaceful nature of Dorrek's mission, it seems unlikely that the starship was equipped with weapons but it may have had shields for use against deep space hazards.
The starship's means of interstellar propulsion has not been revealed but, considering current Skrull technology, it was presumably equipped with some form of warp-drive which enabled it to travel through hyperspace. Given that it could travel from the Greater Magellanic Cloud to the Milky Way Galaxy in a matter of days, it must have been capable of reaching an effective speed that was several MILLION times faster than the speed of light. This technology was remarkably advanced, especially since it was invented early in the Skrulls' history of space exploration.
The most puzzling thing about Dorrek's starship is how everything that it MUST have contained was able to fit into such a small volume. Aside from being able to transport at least 40 human-sized individuals in comfort, the starship also had to carry all of the equipment needed to provide for its basic functions, such as life support, artificial gravity, navigation and propulsion, as well as the power source which provided energy for that equipment. The starship also needed to be able to hold enough provisions for its crew and passengers, the tools which the Skrulls later supplied to the Kree, and the mechanisms that would be used to generate an artificial, self-sustaining breathable atmosphere in what was later known as the Blue Area of Earth's Moon. At present, there is no official explanation for how Dorrek's starship could have held all that it did. It's possible that the Skrulls may have possessed tesseract technology which could have enabled a larger interior space to exist within a smaller exterior shell but this is only speculation.
The First Kree and the Plant-People
This is the parable of the First Kree and the Plant-People (as recounted by ex-Imperial Minister Zarek to Mar-Vell as part of the explanation for why the Lunatic Legion had sentenced Mar-Vell to death).
Now, the first Kree shared the homeworld with the Plant-People. For many years, the two groups ignored each other, and there was peace, but no progress. Then, a big ship of Skrulls came and the Skrull king said, "I will give one of you progress - - the one most suited for it!" So seventeen Plant-People were taken to a deserted moon, and seventeen Kree were taken to another - - the single moon of Earth - - to create what they could with Skrull tools in the space of a year!
Oh, the first Kree worked mighty hard - - worked till they fell down - - to win that contest. At the end of the year, they had built a gient blue city - - blue, like them - - and they anticipated their prize. But the Skrulls, for all their progress, were evil and untrustworthy! They were bribed by the Plant-People to say their effort - - the nurturing of a park - - showed they were the better able to deal with progress! Fortunately, when the Skrulls announced this verdict, the Kree chief, Morag, the Mighty, saw the truth! And led his few men againt the cruel Skrull soldiers - - and they won - - because they were Kree!
That day, peace gave way to progress - - and we set our path toward our present mastery of the stars!"
Note: The genocide that the ancient Kree committed (albeit unsuccessfully) against the Cotati is (conspicuously?) absent from this parable although the Cotati are said to have "bribed" the Skrulls. However, Captain Mar-Vell once speculated that the reason why Hala was entirely covered in metal was due to his race's ancient hatred of the Cotati.
--Captain Marvel I#38
During the planning of their then-upcoming Secret Invasion of Earth, Chancellor Kal'Du prepared Warbook Files for his Queen Veranke that documented all relevant Skrull interactions with Earth and its human populace. The following was the dossier for the ancient Emperor Dorrek I. Certains errors contained within the original document have been left uncorrected.
Emporer Dorrek I
Ruled Skrull Empire ten million years ago, began expanding empire's
influence to other galaxies.
Landed on Hala, held contest on Earth's moon between Kree and Cotati. Kree became convinced
they had lost and killed Dorrek and his crew, seized their ship and used it to create their own
interstellar armada - and began the storied Kree-Skrull war.
REFERENCE: Avengers #133
ANALYSIS: Emperor Dorrek the First ruled our people in the early days
of the empire, shortly after we had achieved interstellar travel, but before
we embraced the ways of the warrior. It was Dorrek who began to expand
the Skrulls' influence, to seek new worlds beyond our own and
gain their loyalty. Unfortunately, one of the worlds he happened
upon was Hala, the homeworld of our cursed hereditary
enemies, the Kree, the same race that gained our eternal
hatred in savagely claiming Emperor Dorrek's life. Dorrek was
a true hero of the empire, and among the first that dreamed
of expansion and conquest. In claiming Earth, that planet that
has always been rightfully ours, we will realize Dorrek's dream,
and bring honor to his name.
--SKRULLS! (page 14)
images: (without ads)
Avengers I#133, page 11, panel 3 (main image)
page 17, panel 1 (angry Dorrek)
Captain Marvel I#38, page 4, panel 1 (Skrulls being massacred)
Avengers I#133, page 11, panel 1 (Skrull starship)
Skrulls! page 14, panel 1 (Warbook image)
Two notes about images: First, the image I used for the Skrulls being
massacred by the blue Kree is from Captain Marvel #38 (page 4, panel 1) but was based on an
image from Avengers i#133 (page 17, panel 4). I used the CM image instead because in the
Avengers story the Kree were mistakenly all depicted with skin that was pinkish-white instead
of the proper blue.
Second, the image from the Skrulls! one-shot was taken from Avengers I#133 (page 14, panel 2). Oddly, nobody bothered to correct the Kree skin color when they reprinted the image.
Avengers I#133 (March, 1975) - Steve Englehart (author), Sal Buscema & Joe Staton (artists), Len Wein (editor)
Captain Marvel I#38 (May, 1975) - Steve Englehart and Al Milgrom (author/co-creators/artist), Klaus Janson (inks), Len Wein (editor)
Last updated: 08/23/16
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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