Title: What If the Avengers Fought the Kree-Skrull War Without Rick Jones?
Release Date: April 1980
Writer: Tom DeFalco
Penciller: Alan Kupperberg
Inker: Bruce Patterson
Good Guys: Rick Jones, Captain Mar-Vell, The Avengers (Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, The Vision, The Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver), Professor Xavier, and an army consisting of every single super-powered being on Earth. Dude!
Bad Guys: Kree usurper Ronan, Skrull emperor Dorrek, The Super-Skrull.

So what happens?

The Watcher, as is his wont, relates to us the highlights of the Kree-Skrull War as it occurred within normal Marvel continuity. The Avengers entered the fray when the Kree warrior Captain Mar-Vell was captured and imprisoned by the Super-Skrull along with the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, while Rick Jones was abducted by the Kree. While the Avengers fought the Skrull armada in an "appropriated" space cruiser, Rick was taken before the imprisoned Kree Supreme Intelligence, a disembodied mental entity that looked like a giant green glowing lumpy head with tentacles instead of hair. The Supreme Intelligence unlocked Rick's latent psychic powers and he used them to summon his boyhood heroes The Invaders while immobilizing the Kree and Skrull armies. Whoop ass ensued, the war was ended, and Earth was saved.

But what if, says the Watcher, Rick Jones had not made it to the final battle? WHAT IF, I ASK YOU???

We join the action as Jones is brought before the Kree tyrant Ronan. Whereas in the original comic Rick's futile attempt to punch out Ronan earned the usurper's respect and prompted him to spare his life, in this alternate reality Ronan very sensibly kills Rick on the spot. One has to wonder about the Kree command structure. Couldn't someone besides the supreme commander of the planet's military forces take care of this one guy? Having dispensed with this irritant, Ronan turns his attention to...INVASION. The Kree fleet hurtles into the stellar void, toward Earth!

Meanwhile, Captain America, Iron Man, Thor and the Vision have boarded a vessel of the Skrull armada and confront the ship's commandant. Suddenly the Skrull emperor appears on a giant viewscreen insisting that he will deal with them personally. (You think this sort of thing happened a lot during World War II? "Everybody stop fighting! The King of England's just rung up on the field telephone, wanting to talk to the crew of that German tank!") He tells the Avengers that Mar-Vell has agreed to join the Skrull war effort, but a second later Mar-Vell appears on the viewscreen tossing his Skrull guards around like rag dolls. The emperor tries to distract everyone from his pathetic ruse by ordering the commandant to execute "Plan Delta"!

On the Kree homeworld of Hala, two soldiers are hauling Rick Jones' lifeless body away. But lo! They fall under the telepathic sway of the deposed Supreme Intelligence, who commands them to bring the body to him. The Intelligence had hoped to use Rick's latent mental powers in a gambit to end the war, but his scans reveal that while the body may be preserved, Rick's mind is lost.

On the Skrull flagship the Vision is beating the Skrull commander within an inch of his life, demanding to know where they are holding Scarlet Witch and what is this Plan Delta thing? The Skrull reveals that an ethercraft has been launched toward Earth, its cargo--A NUCLEAR WARHEAD! Captain America dispatches Goliath, waiting outside in a fighter craft, to stop it at any cost. He has but a moment to wonder at the Vision's odd fixation on the Scarlet Witch's safety when his resumed interrogation of the commander is interrupted by Vizh going completely batshit, flying around wrecking things and threatening the Skrull with death. Just then the elite Skrull warrior unit known as the Star Strikers bursts in. While Thor and Iron Man fight the intruders, the commander tells Vision that there's a messenger craft in the launch bay preprogrammed to fly straight to the Skrull homeworld.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, the Human Torch is battling the pyromaniacal menace of Flame Thrower. Torch distracts the villain by throwing him a package of delicious Hostess Twinkies. Ah, Hostess Twinkies! Golden sponge cake...creamed filling...while Flame Thrower is lost in rapture Torch ties him up and the day is saved. You get a big delight in every bite of Hostess Twinkie cakes!

We return from this carefree commercial interlude in time to see the Vision torture the commander by rendering his fist partly intangible and ramming it through the Skrull's body, disrupting his nervous system. (If you have children who are reading this comic you may want to explain to them that this is okay because the Skrulls are aliens. It probably won't stop the nightmares, though.) Together the Avengers trounce the Star Strikers, but reinforcements are on their way.

In the Skrullian Council Chamber, Quicksilver and the Witch look on as Mar-Vell communes with the Kree artifact known as the Omni-Wave Projector, a device that can be used either for interstellar communication or as a galaxy-spanning death ray. The Skrull emperor Dorrek watches on his own viewscreen and declares that the moment Mar-Vell emerges from the chamber his guards will kill him. Dorrek's daughter Anelle tries to convince him to halt this mad war but he will not listen. The tearful Anelle hurries out, silently asking her father's forgiveness for what she is about to do. Suddenly an agonized scream comes from the chamber: Mar-Vell has just learned that Rick Jones is dead. Enraged, he destroys the Omni-Wave Projector. For the death of Rick Jones he will have vengeance! VENGEANCE!

Mar-Vell tears through the palace in a berserk rage. To stop him, the emperor releases the rebellious Super-Skrull from jail. Meanwhile, Goliath is bailing out of the nuke-bearing Skrull spacecraft in his captured fighter having "skragged its etherdrive." The ship and its deadly cargo explode, the shock waves causing Goliath's craft to lose control. When he recovers he sees to his alarm the entire Kree fleet on his viewscreen!

Back on Earth, the Fantastic Four have also detected the approaching fleet on their super-scientific equipment. Professor Xavier contacts them telepathically and together they work out a plan of action: the Prof will assemble an army of super-beings to defend the Earth while Reed Richards prepares the FF's captured starship for takeoff. (They horked it from the Skrulls way, way back in Fantastic Four #2). Xavier sends out a telepathic call to arms to every super-powered being on Earth...and NONE REFUSE HIM! At that moment Goliath boards the SHIELD helicarrier which for some reason appears to be in orbit. Nick Fury orders his men to open fire and they take out a couple of Kree ships before the Kree commander (after delivering the traditional "Foolish humans" speech) blows the crap out of the helicarrier and forces them to abandon ship.

On the Skrull ship, the Vision and Captain America board the messenger ship and blast off for the Skrull homeworld while Thor and Iron Man stay behind to do some damage. The battle is short-lived, though--Iron Man is caught in an explosion (one of two lethal and unintentional explosions this issue) and goes down. Thor snatches him up and teleports the two of them away.

On the Skrull homeworld, the Super-Skrull and Mar-Vell clash while the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver watch in suspense. The pair are discovered by a group of Skrull guards and flee through an open door which by an astonishing coincidence brings them face to face with Princess Anelle and a coterie of armed and pissed off Skrull revolutionaries. DOWN WITH THE MAN!

Cut to...EARTH! Skrull and Kree forces battle in space! Earth's superheroes and villains board Reed Richards' starship to carry the fight to the enemy! Will Spider-Man's webs "mean spit to an army of aliens"? The Thing grimly advises the wall-crawler to soldier on. On the Moon, the nothing.

Our gaze turns to Asgard, home of the mighty Norse gods! Thor brings the fallen Iron Man before Odin and begs for the gods to sally forth to save Midgard. Odin (according to Section Two-Four-Nine Subparagraph Ten of Asgard's bylaws?) may only order troops into battle in Asgard's defense and so must leave the decision to his warriors. They give their assent with a thunderous shout, and Asgard's legions set out bound for death or glory in their flying ships.

You know, you can earn your own spending money selling GRIT to friends, neighbors, relatives and others! It's been America's favorite family newspaper since 1882! TRUE.

Vision and Captain America receive a hot welcome on the Skrull homeworld in the form of anti-aircraft fire. Vizh ejects Cap in an emergency pod and pilots the ship right into the gun emplacements, turning himself insubstantial at the last minute. Nearby, Mar-Vell and the Super-Skrull batter one another brutally and without pity. Using Mister Fantastic's stretching powers Super-Skrull tries to squeeze the life from Mar-Vell. The fading Kree warrior summons his last vestige of strength and fires an energy blast that kills his opponent. Rick Jones, he says, has been avenged. Worlds away, all of this is cold comfort to the Supreme Intelligence whose plot to end the war was kiboshed by Rick's death. There is, he says, only one ghastly avenue by which his plan might be salvaged...

The Skrull fleet is horrified to find itself under attack by shiploads of sword-wielding Vikings. Meanwhile, the Kree are getting those smug alien smirks wiped off their faces by Earth's finest. The Incredible Hulk! Daredevil! Silver Surfer! Black Panther! Black Bolt! Sub-Mariner! Spider-Man! The ever-lovin', blue-eyed Thing! Iron Man! Hey...wait a sec. Wasn't Iron Man out cold in Asgard? Oh, well. It's CLOBBERIN' TIME! The Kree vow they will not surrender, while the Skrulls hatch yet another plan, this time to evacuate all personnel from Earth and destroy it utterly. On the Skrull homeworld, Captain America and the Vision join up with Mar-Vell and the three of them go looking for some heads to bust.

In a subterranean corridor on Hala, anxious Kree guards gather outside the dungeon housing the Supreme Intelligence, unwilling to open the door which is glowing an unsettling shade of green. Suddenly it explodes, and what lies beyond fills the guards with terror. Cut to Ronan's command center, where Ronan's war council is interrupted by a panicky radio message announcing that the Supreme Intelligence has broken free from captivity. Ronan only has a moment to destroy the radio in a fit of pique when the walls toppled inward to reveal...GIANT GLOWING GREEN SPACE FETUS. Yes! Remember the Star Child from the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey? The Supreme Intelligence must have caught a showing because he has gone the Dave Bowman route, merging his superintelligent Kree essence with Rick Jones' human body. He effortlessly scatters Ronan's forces leaving the two of them alone to duke it out in a contest of wills.

Skrull homeworld! Things look grim for the revolutionaries when Cap, Vizh, and Mar-Vell appear in the nick of time. Vision and the Scarlet Witch reunite with a passionate embrace, but their joy is cut short when Dorrek wheels out a ray cannon and starts disintegrating people. The Scarlet Witch attempts to use her hex power to jam the cannon but unintentionally blows it up, taking the emperor with it. Mar-Vell introduces the ecstatic Skrulls to their new, wiser, gentler ruler, Princess Anelle.

Meanwhile! The contest of wills on Hala comes to an end in an explosion that takes out Ronan's command center. When the smoke clears, Ronan is dead and the Supreme Intelligence recalls the Kree fleet. The Watcher solemnly declares in the caption that the devastation suffered by both the Kree and Skrull fleets in this alternate reality bring to a permanent end the era of Kree-Skrull power in the galaxy. By way of epilogue we see Anelle invested as monarch, the wounded superheroes of Earth wearily emerging from the FF's starship (Spider-Man looks way goofy with a white bandage wrapped around his masked head), and the Avengers have a moment of silence for the fallen Rick Jones. The Supreme Intelligence leaves to Mar-Vell the task of cementing a lasting peace with the Skrulls (hinting at a matrimonial union with Anelle) while he himself departs for the stars. "I have much to learn about myself...and the universe I shall one day master."

Cool Moments! The full page panel where Professor X calls up the troops: though he doesn't show up again in the issue, Doctor Doom is among the draftees. Now that I would have liked to see.

Cool Quotes!

Skrull Officer: "Sir, the scanner detects a small object hurling toward us. It carries no warhead."
Skrull Captain: "Swinish oaf! It is obviously a meteorite. Our deflector screens will handle so trivial a--"
Mjolnir: KWANG!

Mar-Vell, to the battered Super-Skrull: "Recite for me, Skrull! Tell me again how you and your race of cowardly, cretinous fools are going to overrun the galaxies!""

Unintentionally Dirty Moments!

Iron Man: "A full dose of my repulsors up the old photon torpedo tube should liven things up a bit." Har!

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