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Blog: Skrull Milk

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One of the great achievements of my YOUTH was the fact that I managed to collect the complete John Byrne run of "Fantastic Four."

This probably says more about my youth than anything, but anyway, it is STILL, even in these days of Actually Having A Girlfriend, something that fills me with pleasure, and every few years I like to dig them out and read them through from start to finish. Each issue reminds me of creeping down to "House On The Borderland" in Peterborough and spending my lunch money on a massive pile of comics, then reading them at home pretending not to have bought as many as I actually had...

ANYWAY, whilst mooching around town the other lunchtime, I found myself in the slightly unpleasant Forbidden Planet "Outlet Store", and discovered, in their sale of old comics, a copy of the 1983 Fantastic Four Annual which a) i didn't have and b) i didn't even know existed. Imagine my horror to discover that, all these years, I had been living a LIE! I didn't have the complete John Byrne collection at ALL!!

Needless to say, I handed over my 50p (50p for a comic! And you've still have change from you dinner money for a packet of Polos on the way home!) and DELVED IN. It was WEIRD, having read this particular run of comics SO many times, to find one completely new to me. It was also a bit disconcerting to find how overwritten and, especially, DAFT, it was. In one of the first issues of Fantastic Four they meet THE SKRULLS, a race of shape changing alien baddies, pretending to be the Fantastic Four so as to make them look bad. The REAL Fantastic Four catch them, then go up to the Skrull mothership pretending to be their duplicates. Reed Richards shows Chief Skrull some pictures of some monsters (drawings cut out of a comic!!) and, because Skrulls have such bad eyesight, they shit themselves and FLEE! Afterwards the Skrull Spies, still on earth, transform into COWS and are hypnotised into forgetting who they are...

In this issue one of Johnny Storm (the Human Torch - keep up!)'s girlfriend's friends runs out of GAS (American terminology) near a SPOOKY TOWN where everyone drinks milk, to which she is allergic. The townsfolk BAR her from leaving, and after two days there she realises she could use a payphone to ring for help. Eventually the FF arrive to find that - HORREUR! - the townspeople have all been drinking the MILK that comes from these SKRULLS, and have changed into SEMI-SKRULLS themselves!!! ARGH! And they turn into MONSTERS to fight The Thing! YIKES!

It's something to do with DNA, Mr Fantastic says, but luckily he's mixed up a spray so they fly over town in the FANTASTICAR and spray it over everyone, and all goes back to normal... or is it? As they leave town, they fly past a Military Base (which they hadn't noticed before) which - DAN DAN DAAAR! - is getting a delivery of MILK! WHOO!

Actually, that last bit is pretty cool, and it's also GRATE when the thing is fighting the MONSTERS, and it's quite funny that they bring in the bit about SKRULLS having bad eyesight (which wasn't in the original issue, I don't think), but all in all it felt a bit SPOOKY to be reading a missing piece of something I'd thought I'd finished reading nearly 20 years ago. It also made it glaringly obvious how very MUCH comics WERE written for kids in those days, and how much they're not now, especially for early-adolescent boys who really DIG the kind of MASSIVE over-writing and exposition that went on in them. It's all very hokey and jolly, but I much prefer the Stan Lee version of pulse-pounding pusillanimous hot dogging that those jivin' hepsters in the barmy bullpen bashed out. Face front, True Believers! Also, EXCELSIOR!

I recently found out that "Excelsior" isn't even a proper word! Stan! You lied to me!

posted 14/11/2003 by MJ Hibbett

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