- Maybe I am a monster! I look like one—and sometimes I feel like one!
- -- The Thing
Appearing in "The Fantastic Four Meet the Skrulls from Outer Space!"
- Fantastic Four (Main story and recap)
- Central City Police Chief
- United States Army
- Skrull Empire (First appearance)
- Unnamed Central City citizens
- Unnamed Oil-rig workers
- Unnamed Jewelry store employees
- Unnamed Power Plant Worker
- Santa Claus (Mentioned)
Races and Species:
- Milky Way (Main story and recap)
- Solar System (Main story and recap)
- Earth (Main story and recap)
- Mars (Mentioned)
- Solar System (Main story and recap)
- Andromeda Galaxy (Mentioned) (Unnamed)
- The Daily Globe (First appearance)
- Daily Bugle (First appearance)
- Anti-Gravity Harness (First appearance)
Synopsis for "The Fantastic Four Meet the Skrulls from Outer Space!"
The Thing attacks an oil platform off the Texas shore. The Invisible Girl steals a valuable gem from a jewelry store. The Human Torch melts a statue when a town unveils it. Mister Fantastic shuts down a power plant. These impostors meet afterward and reveal how they used their shape-shifting abilities and alien technology to perpetrate their misdeeds. They are Skrulls, and they plan on invading Earth. Fearing the Fantastic Four will stand in their way, these four agents want to ruin their reputation. The real Fantastic Four, in "an isolated hunting lodge," hear the news with dismay.[Continuity 1]
The United States Army surrounds the lodge. Wanted for the Skrulls' crimes, the Fantastic Four surrender.They escape from cells specifically designed to hold them and hole up in one of their "many secret apartment hideouts", in order to clear their names. They set a trap for the Skrulls by sending Johnny to sabotage a rocket launch, hoping it will draw them out. He melts through an unused gantry,[Continuity 2] avoids the army's artillery and flames off behind a hangar. "Reed" and "Susan" pick him up and take him back to their hideout. A Fantasti-Flare out the window brings the rest of the team.
A fight ensues and the Skrulls are taken, prisoner. The Fantastic Four steal the Skrulls' rocket ship and find their mother-ship in Earth orbit.[Continuity 3] Posing as the Skrull agents, they trick the captain into believing that Earth is too dangerous to invade by passing off images from Journey into Mystery and Strange Tales as real. Reed volunteers to stay behind and remove any trace of the Skrulls' presence on Earth. Convinced his army would be slaughtered, the captain calls off the invasion and awards Reed a medal for bravery.[Continuity 4] On the way home the Fantastic Four passes through the cosmic rays again, causing the Thing to briefly return to human form.
Once back on Earth the Fantastic Four clear their names by proving the existence of Skrulls to the military. The remaining three Skrulls transform into cows at Reed's instructions, and Reed hypnotizes them into believing they are real cows. They are left in a field where they can live out their lives.[Continuity 5][Continuity 6][Continuity 7][Continuity 8]
- In a flashback to the FF's origin, Reed specifically states that the rocket in Fantastic Four #1 was meant to go to Mars. As Marvel has continued to publish stories eventually they had to institute a Sliding Timescale as a means of slowing down the advance of time in the Marvel Universe over the length of publications in real time. This was to prevent aging their characters quickly as well as updating dated plot concepts, generalizing real-life events or dates that are mentioned in various stories. When Fantastic Four #1 was published in 1961, Reed's spaceship is specifically referred to as a rocket, and his intentions for his mission is to beat the Soviet Union in the space race. Contextually, the story was published during the height of the US/Soviet Space Race, which saw both countries competing to see which one could develop manned space flights. Since then, many retellings of the Fantastic Four's origin have changed the details of Reed Richard's space flight, updating concepts so that they were not considered dated by more modern readers. Fantastic Four #236, the origin of the Fantastic Four was updated, it was stated that Reed's experimental ship was intended to travel to the edge of the solar system and while it needed a rocket booster to reach escape velocity from Earth's atmosphere it relied on a Star Drive to reach its destination. This tale also goes on to expand on how the quartet was mutated. While Fantastic Four #1 merely states that it was cosmic rays, Fantastic Four #236 goes further to explain that these rays passed through the Van Allen Belt that is held around the Earth by its magnetic field. Fantastic Four #358 published in 1991 states that the "Star Drive" was intended to bring them into hyperspace in order to visit other solar systems. It's also stated in this story that unusual sunspot activity from Earth's sun also played a role in boosting the strength of the cosmic rays that mutated the Fantastic Four.
- This is the first issue where the Human Torch uses his catchphrase "Flame on!"
- This is not the first time Reed has encountered the Skrulls. A few years previous he exposed a Skrull spy on Earth, as seen in Marvel: The Lost Generation #11.
- The disappearance of the fourth Skrull in this story is explained in Avengers #66 which states that Reed Richards allowed that Skrull to return home.
- This story does not give a specific location for where Reed left the cows. Fantastic Four Annual #17, however, places them in King's Crossing, New York, and looks at the consequences of transforming the Skrulls into cows and their effect on the town. Also during this period the Skrull cows bred with normal cows producing a Skrull/Cow hybrid as revealed in Skrull Kill Krew (Vol. 2) #1
- The Skrull cows return as major players during the Kree-Skrull War depicted in Avengers #89-97.
- Years later Mister Fantastic repeats the "Skrull Cow" solution to deal with Skrull invaders during a trip back in time to the year 1776 in Fantastic Four (Vol. 4) #10.
- New Avengers #40 revealed that one of these Skrulls was a relative to Emperor Dorrek VII, who considered this an insult. This was partial motivation for Dorrek to begin the Super-Skrull program that eventually led to the Secret Invasion of Earth many years later.
- At the end of the issue is a bonus pin-up, featuring:
- The inker on this issue is not given beyond Lee and Kirby's signatures, although Steve Leialoha and Roz & Jack Kirby stated in the letters page, 'Fantastic Forum' in Fantastic Four #272 & Fantastic Four #281, that Sol Brodsky inked the issue.
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