Cover of Fantastic Four vol. 1, 2 (Jan, 1962). Featuring the first appearance of the Skrulls. 
Art by Jack Kirby.
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance Fantastic Four #2 (January 1962) (January 1962)
Created by Stan Lee (Writer)
Jack Kirby (Artist)
Place of origin Skrullos; later moved capital to Tarnax IV (destroyed)
Notable members See: Known Skrulls
Inherent abilities Shapeshifting

The Skrulls are a fictional race of extraterrestrial shapeshifters appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics.

The Skrulls have been regularly featured in several decades of Marvel Comics, usually as villains bent on invading Earth and engaged in a prolonged war with the extraterrestrial Kree.

Publication history

The Skrulls first appeared in Fantastic Four #2 and were created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.

Fictional species biography

Millions of years ago, the Celestials performed genetic experiments on the reptilian ancestors of the Skrulls, resulting in three branches of Skrulls that eventually warred with one another. The Deviant branch—possessing the innate ability to shapeshift—were triumphant, and afterward wiped out all members of the other two races until only two were left: the Skrull Eternal, Kly'bn, and Prime Skrull of the original Skrull race. Kly'bn implored them to spare his life, as killing him would kill part of their heritage. The Deviants' leader, Sl'gur't, fell in love with him, with the two eventually becoming the gods of the Skrull pantheon. As Kly'bn could not change, Sl'gurt vowed to never keep the same shape for too long.[1] Prime Skrull escaped to Earth in the 20th century and later became a member of the Underground Legion.[2] From that point, the Skrulls began to expand their territory. The Deviant branch later split into two more groups, the modern Skrulls and an anomaly called the Dire Wraiths, a parasitic race that could still shapeshift and had use of magic, but were not as technologically advanced as the Skrulls.[3]

The modern Skrulls originate from the planet of Skrullos, and were originally a mercantile civilization, primarily interested in free trade and willing to share their technology with all races they deemed worthy. When they encountered a new race, they simply transformed themselves to resemble that race. The Skrull empire that resulted from these contacts was based on free trade and mutual cooperation. The empire is controlled by an emperor and each of the 978 worlds is controlled by a governor.

Kree-Skrull War

Eventually, the Skrulls developed long-distance space travel; a great tour of the universe was undertaken, led by Emperor Dorrek, and in a full decade of travel no civilization was encountered he deemed superior to the Skrulls. Finally, the Skrull delegation reached the planet Hala, home to the then-barbaric Kree and the peaceful Cotati, and held a contest to determine which of the races would represent Hala to the Skrull Empire. Seventeen members of each race were taken to different uninhabited planetoids where they were left with sufficient supplies for one year. At the end of that period, whichever group had done the most with themselves would be adjudged the most worthy. The Kree were taken to Earth's Moon where they built a great city while the Cotati were taken to another barren world in a different solar system and used their abilities to create a beautiful park. Realizing that the Cotati were going to win, the enraged Kree killed all the Cotati. When the Kree revealed that they had solved the question of who would represent Hala to the Skrulls by destroying their opposition, the Skrull delegates were appalled and vowed that Hala would forever be banned from their circle of favored worlds—so the Kree massacred them as well, took over the Skrull landing spaceship by force, and developed their own technology from it.

Because of the immense distances involved, decades passed before the Skrulls learned of the Kree’s activities. By this time it was too late. The Kree were now advanced and audacious enough to attack the Skrulls in their home galaxy. During the millennia that followed, the Kree aggression forced the Skrulls to become a militaristic civilization, and the Skrulls eventually developed the vicious streak needed to conduct intergalactic war. Their entire culture was remade in the warrior image. The Kree-Skrull War continued for thousands of years with only brief interruptions.[4] The Skrull Throneworld is later moved from Skrullos to the more central Tarnax IV, with their empire encompassing over fifty worlds.[5] The Skrulls also created the first Cosmic Cube, which later became the Shaper of Worlds; the Shaper related that, upon attaining self-awareness, he lashed out blindly, destroying two thirds of the Skrull empire and casting the civilization back into barbarism (suggesting this occurred before the war with the Kree broke out).[6]

The Kree Accuser Ronan had wrested control of the Kree Empire from the Supreme Intelligence and attacked the Skrulls, reigniting hostilities. The Avengers become involved once the Super Skrull kidnaps Captain Marvel, and in turn they battle a Kree Sentry robot, three of the original Skrulls that had fought the Fantastic Four, S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, rogue Inhumans and legions of Skrulls. The Supreme Intelligence ends the immediate conflict by revealing to Avengers' ally Rick Jones that he has vast mental potential, which is then used to freeze all combatants in place. The Supreme Intelligence announces that, while the Kree and Skrulls have reached genetic dead ends, the human race displays incredible untapped potential.[7] It was revealed years later that the conflict produced a Kree-Skrull hybrid, Hulkling, who is the child of one-time lovers Captain Marvel and the Skrull Princess Anelle.[8]

Empire Changing Events

The Skrulls became aware of Earth when they discovered a space warp linking Earth and Throneworld. Later they discovered the Earth possesses an equidistant link to Hala. They see Earth as a world to conquer but they are content to hold off a full invasion. Because of their caution, the Skrulls have sent only a handful of scoutwarriors to infiltrate Earth, but fail to take into account the presence of the modern superhero.

In 1958, Skrulls attempted to sabotage Earth's space program. They battled 3-D Man, and set the Cold Warrior against 3-D Man.[9] Later a small scouting party used their shape shifting powers to impersonate the Fantastic Four, committing crimes so the country would turn against the Fantastic Four, the only ones with the power to stop them. But the Fantastic Four were able to locate the Skrulls and tricked their leaders into believing the Earth was full of threats. The fleet left and Mr. Fantastic made the Skrulls that were left behind shapeshift into cows and he hypnotized them to remember nothing about their true heritage.[10]

In retaliation the Skrull Emperor Dorrek VII dispatches Kl'rt, a Skrull known as the Super-Skrull, to Earth to defeat the Fantastic Four. Kl'rt possesses the powers of the entire Fantastic Four (in addition to shapeshifting and hypnotism), and he holds the team at bay until Mister Fantastic discovers the source of his power and uses a miniature device to jam the ray, before the Human Torch imprisons him inside a crater.[11] The Super-Skrull posed as the jailed Dr. Franklin Storm, after transporting him to the Skrull throneworld, and battled the Fantastic Four as the Invincible Man; another Skrull ultimately caused the death of Dr. Storm by attaching a bomb to his chest before he was transported back, although Storm turned to the floor, saving the Fantastic Four by using his body to shield them from the blast.[12] The Fantastic Four later travel to Tarnax IV and find the Skrull responsible for the murder of Susan and Johnny Storm's father (which turned out to be Warlord Morrat).[13] Skrulls were involved in other events such as sending the Super-Skrull to battle Captain Mar-Vell,[14] and abducting the Thing as a contestant in the Skrull Games.[15]

Later the cosmic being the Watcher adjudicates a duel between champions from both races: Colonel Bel-Dann of the Kree and Warlord Raksor of the Skrulls. After one year of conflict the duel remains deadlocked and is ultimately abandoned with no resolution.[16] Years later during a conflict with Xandar that included the Fantastic Four and the Champions of Xandar, Emperor Dorrek VII's wife, Empress R'klll, stages a coup and kills him to become ruling Empress.[17]

Empress R'klll's reign is short-lived, however, as the greatest blow to the Skrulls arrives in the form of the World Devourer Galactus. After his Herald Nova annihilates the Skrull fleet, Galactus devours Tarnax IV, killing billions of Skrulls, including R'klll and the Princess Anelle.[18] With the destruction of the central government, the Skrull Empire has collapsed into hundreds of bickering factions. Their galaxy is filled with Governors who have declared themselves to be Emperor of the Skrulls and soon a civil war began. The Shi'ar maintain a heavy presence in the former empire as well, constantly dealing with packets of resistance.

Second Kree-Skrull War

Later Reed Richards discovered that yet another Governor-turned-Emperor, Zabyk, had created a genetics bomb, which, when it exploded made all the Skrulls lose their shape-shifting abilities. Whatever form they were in they were stuck in at the time of the explosion.[19]

In desperation, since without their shapeshifting powers they were vulnerable, they managed to kidnap the herald of Galactus, Nova, in an attempt to get Galactus to destroy Kree worlds for them. Their plot failed when the Silver Surfer helped Galactus rescue Nova in exchange for his freedom from Earth.

When the Celestials made an appearance, this scared the Skrulls into starting a second war with the Kree to show they were not powerless. The attack was first made by Kylor, one of five governors claiming to be Emperor. He had a spy in the Kree Empire, Nenora, who gave him the early edge. They tried to hide their secret weakness at all costs from the Kree.

Kylor was eventually betrayed by Nenora, as was the entire Skrull race. She assumed power of the empire and wished to keep it for herself. It was Empress S'byll who stepped up to control the Skrulls and finish the war. She was able to resurrect the Super Skrull and he returned to find the empire in shambles. They tricked the Silver Surfer into attacking a Badoon fleet, which he was not aware were allied with the Kree. Since the Kree waged war on the Surfer, he allied himself with the Skrulls to save Zenn-La from destruction.

To restore their powers, the Super Skrulls DNA needed to be transferred to S'byll, because only a female could spread the ability to the other Skrulls. The Surfer helped them to power a machine that would return the Empress' shape shifting abilities. The device was successful. With this power she was able to restore every Skrull she touched and became the true Empress of the Skrulls.

She and Super Skrull waged war with the Kree with the help of the Silver Surfer. She replaced Super Skrull with Captain Reptyl and he helped to change her into an emotionless reptile. But Reptyl was betrayed by one of his own and the Skrull fleet was utterly destroyed by the Kree. S'byll and Silver Surfer went alone to attack the Kree homeworld of Hala.

Gaining the knowledge that Nenora was actually a Skrull gave them the advantage. S'byll gave her shape-shifting abilities back to her, crippling her and showing the Kree her true self. A peace treaty was created.

The Skrulls eventually broke that peace treaty as they kept their military drive and prefer to fight rather than negotiate. Among the other races contained within the Skrull Empire are the Druff, Guna, Kallusina, Morani, Pheragot, Queega, Tekton, and Yirbek races. Other races remain independent, whether through treaties or open resistance. Such races include the Clegrimites, Gegku, Krylorians, Wilameanis, and Xandarians. The Skrull-Xandarian war with the Xandarians recently ended with the destruction of Xandar by the supervillainess Nebula.[20]

Other activities

Skrulls are meanwhile involved in numerous other activities. They were revealed to have conquered a medieval planet and abandoned it after its inhabitants perished.[21] Skrull Prime Ten battled the Fantastic Four and Captain Mar-Vell.[22] The Skrulls sent their own representative to witness the fate of the Phoenix, at her trial by the Shi'ar. There is a lone appearance of Queen Akilll of the Skrull.[23] A lone Skrull poisoned Vera Gantor to force the Avengers to seek the Resurrection Stone on his behalf.[24] The Skrulls sent their General Zedrao to give the dying Captain Mar-Vell the Royal Skrull Medal of Honor.[25]


A group of genetically-bred Skrulls called Warskrulls began infiltrating the Shi'ar Empire.[26] They used a Nexus Amplifier to assume total physical discorporation of their targets, adopting their super powers along with their physical appearance. They captured and replaced the Starjammers with members of their race as well as key components in government. The Warskrulls, acting under the direction of the paramount among them, posing as a Shi'ar called the Chamberlain, began committing murders and even genocide upon various Shi'ar affiliated races, such as the P!ndyr, in the name of the Shi'ar Empire. One Warskrull replaced the Imperial Consort, Professor X, called himself Warlord, and took mental control over Lilandra, the Majestrix of the Shi'ar. They were eventually defeated by the combined forces of Deathbird and the X-Men and later the Shi'ar vowed to weed out any other Warskrulls.[27]

Infiltrating Earth

Some time later a Skrull called Paibok mounts a campaign to invade Earth, using another Skrull called Lyja as an infiltrator. The plan involved secretly replacing the real Alicia Masters, The Thing's blind lover. The plan fell through when she instead seduced Human Torch and the two eventually married one another. The long running facade eventually came to light and the group discovered that the real, human Alicia was actually being held captive by the Skrull nation and Lyja defects, having fallen in love with the Human Torch. The Fantastic Four rescued her, but Lyja seemingly died in the process as she sacrificed herself to save Johnny when Paibok attacked.

Paibok later revealed to Devos the Devastator that she was still alive. Paibok, with the assistance of Devos, awoke Lyja from her comatose state, also bestowing her with the power to fly and fire energy blasts from her hands (becoming "Lyja the Lazerfist"). These powers were later revealed to come from a special device implanted into her. Joining them in search of vengeance, the three arrived on Earth, and isolated and battled the Torch at Empire State University. Panicking, the Torch burst into his Nova Flame and destroyed the campus. Alongside Devos and Paibok, Lyja witnessed a battle between the Fantastic Four and an alternate Fantastic Four. However, Lyja still bore feelings for the Torch and once again betrayed her cohorts to side with the Fantastic Four which ended with the Fantastic Four destroying the "Skrull War World", the Skrulls' largest attack ship.[28]

Cadre K

A group of Skrulls traveled to Earth where they began plotting to invade the planet once again. They were however at some point approached by Apocalypse who wanted to lure together twelve powerful mutants that he needs to ascend to godhood. At the same time, the body of the Living Monolith, who had been hurled out into the far reaches of space by Thor, is found and brought back to Earth. On Earth, a mutant Skrull named Fiz sneaked into Xavier's mansion to tell them urgent news of trouble: the Skrulls have allied themselves with someone powerful and the only thing he knows is that there are twelve mutants that can't be harmed and that something terrible is going to happen. Fiz also reveals the existence of a subtype of Skrulls that possess innate powers like the Earth mutants. Deemed outcasts by the others Skrulls, they were hunted by the Empire.[29]

After the eventual defeat of Apocalypse, Professor X left into space to train them, giving them the name Cadre K. Cadre K and Xavier returned to Earth during the Ruul's attempt to overtake the planet by turning it into an intergalactic prison. A wounded Z'Cann attempted to pass on vital information to Rogue. Their physical contact affected Rogue's powers for some time. The information was received and the X-Men were reunited with Bishop.[30]


Main article: Annihilation (comics)

The Skrull Empire is the first of the major interstellar empires to be invaded by the forces of Annihilus. The Annihilation Wave's superweapon, the Harvester of Sorrow, physically destroys dozens of Skrull planets.[31][32] In the aftermath the Skrulls unsuccessfully attempt to convince Hulkling to become their new Emperor.[8]

The Rise and Fall of the Shi'ar Empire

A group of Warskrulls attacked a remote Shi'ar space station and took it over. Disguised as Shi'ar, they were taken aboard the space station willingly and slaughtered all those aboard except a few to keep working the ship. The group however was eventually defeated by a group of X-Men (Darwin, Havok, Marvel Girl (Rachel Grey), Nightcrawler, Professor X, Warpath). These Warskrulls are however revealed to be cyborgs.[33]

Secret Invasion

Main article: Secret Invasion

In the Secret Invasion series by Brian Michael Bendis and Leinil Yu, a flailing Skrull empire, under the leadership of newcomer Queen Veranke, makes an all-out effort to infiltrate and conquer Earth. It is revealed that the Skrulls were already infiltrating Earth for quite sometime by capturing and replacing many of Earth's heroes, which was now followed by the main assault group. This wave of Skrulls forms a new version of the Super-Skrull, with each possessing the abilities of several different heroes. Their invasion ultimately fails, costing the life of Veranke, and reducing their numbers even further.[34] Even their Gods are slain, and the Japanese God of Evil Amatsu-Mikaboshi takes over their Pantheon, leading to the events of Chaos War.[1]

Restablishing the Empire and Infinity

After the events of Secret Invasion, the Skrulls are now in smaller numbers and have since began plotting to rise back to power by orchestrating events for their benefits.[35]

During the Infinity storyline, several planets that the Skrulls settled on began being targeted by the Builders and while the Silver Surfer tried to save most of them, the Skrulls' population was once more decimated.[36] Kl'rt later represented the Skrull Empire as a member of the Galactic Council.[37] After the Avengers' victory over the Builders and Thanos, Kl'rt becomes the new Emperor of the Skrulls where they settle on Tarnax II.[38]

Appearance and abilities

Skrulls are green-skinned reptilian humanoids with large pointed ears, red or green eyes, and chins with several vertical folds in the skin below their mouths. Skrulls are known for genetic and molecular instability, and genetic diversity, due to Celestial experimentation creating the Skrull "Deviants" (now the only surviving Skrulls). The Skrulls are known for their physical malleability and ability to shapeshift to any size, shape, or color at will, taking on the appearance but not the characteristics of other beings and objects within a volume range of .75 to 1.5 times the Skrull's original volume. Skrulls are able to assume virtually any form, be it organic (e.g., cows [10]) or inorganic (e.g., lamp [39]). As a result, the Skrulls excel at spying and infiltration. Skrulls are also able to use their shapeshifting abilities to form weapons (e.g., blades and clubs) with parts of their bodies, making them dangerous hand-to-hand combatants. Their sexual dimorphism is roughly the same of a human being, but their sexual orientation is more complex since they can change their genders at will. Indeed, Xavin once casually said that, for a Skrull, changing gender is comparable to a human being changing their hair color.[40]

The Skrulls later developed the ability to render themselves undetectable when using their shapeshifting abilities, even from telepaths and those with superior senses.[41][42] Reed Richards discovered a method to use technology to negate this ability and reveal a disguised Skrull's true form.[43]

Courtesy of their advanced technology, the Skrulls have also been able to augment their abilities in certain warriors, such as the Super-Skrull and War Skrulls—an elite group who with special encoding are able to emulate the powers as well as appearance of their templates.[44]

It is believed that Skrulls' eyes are incapable of subtle visual perceptions as those of Earth humans; Skrulls once mistook samples of drawn artwork for photographs.[10]

Known Skrulls

Other versions


In Amalgam Comics, the Skrulls are the native inhabitants of Mars (having crossed DC's Green Martians with the Skrulls). Mister X (Martian Manhunter and Professor X) is an example of a Martian Skrull.

Hulk: The End

In the one shot Hulk: The End, an alien robot tells an elderly Bruce Banner, the last human on the planet, that the death of the human race was widely celebrated throughout the Universe, so much so that the Skrulls and Kree had settled their differences in celebration.

Squadron Supreme

The Skrullian Skymaster (real name Skymax) is a member of the Squadron Supreme and possesses abilities matching the Super Skrull from Earth-616.[100]

Ultimate Marvel

The Skrulls are led by the billion-year-old Skrull Emperor Kl'rt. The Skrulls dislike being confused with the Chitauri whom they call terrorists. They have extremely advanced technology, but have not been observed to shapeshift. These Skrulls were seen only in an alternate timeline in which Reed Richards contacted their world via his teleporter; the events leading to that timeline were altered in Ultimate Fantastic Four #29 so that contact was never made.[101]

In other media



Guardians of the Galaxy and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 director James Gunn revealed that the rights of the Skrulls are co-owned by both Marvel Studios and Fox.[102][103]

Video games


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