Adam Felber - Hangin' With the Skrull Kill Krew

Adam Felber on Skrull Kill Krew

Skrull Kill Krew #1, coming in April

Well, the Secret Invasion is all over, but the Marvel Universe has a problem – there are still plenty of shape-shifting, skullcap-wearing, bad-complexioned Skrulls hiding among us. Who ya gonna call? Why, the Skrull Kill Krew, of course!

Introduced in the 1990s in a short-lived series by a couple of guys named Grant Morrison and Mark Millar, the Krew hates Skrulls. Really hates Skrulls. Really, really, really hates Skrulls. In fact, they hate Skrulls so much that they devote a good chunk of their time to riding around on motorcycles and smoking them out with guns and creepy powers. It’s been a while since they’ve been a presence in the Marvel Universe, but they re-emerged in the Invasion, and now they’re back in a new five-issue limited series that premieres in April.

To find out what’s up with the Kill Krew, we talked with the writer of the new series, Adam Felber. Felber’s a new name to comics, but he’s known in other media as a writer for HBO’s Bill Maher show Real Time, a guest on NPR's Wait, Wait - Don't Tell Me and for the novel Schrodinger’s Ball. Our extraordinarily silly conversation involved the morality of Skrull-slaying, Skrull-on-cow action, and the origins of this new miniseries in improve comedy. Read on…

Newsarama: So, Adam, what's going to happen in Skrull Kill Krew?

Adam Felber: Mayhem. We're going to find out about a previously unknown Skrull population LIVING AMONG US!

This new threat isn't going to be combated by Superheroes. Because it's a non-glorious, non-cosmic battle. It's the house-to-house stuff, the clean-up, the real work.

NRAMA: For those who missed them the first time around, and their recent Initiative re-emergence, who are the Kill Krew, and what is the tone of the book?

AF: The Skrull Kill Krew are a tortured team created back in the ‘90s in a short-lived series. Remember how the Fantastic Four tricked the original Skrulls into turning themselves into cows and losing their memories? I didn't either, not until I was approached about this series. Anyhow, after a couple of bouts of turning back into Skrulls, then back into cows, and etc., the Skrull-cows were slaughtered.

And wouldn't you know it? Five of the people who ate that tainted hamburger meat developed two interesting characteristics: Skrull-like transformative powers and a pathological hatred of Skrulls.

The book's tone reflects my aesthetic more than anything. It's funny. Fast-paced. Kind of "adult," I'd say.

Though not in a porn way - get yer mind outta the gutter!

NRAMA: Now, how does a distinguished political satirist find himself chronicling the splattering of Skrull brains?

AF: A better question might be how did a sketch and improv comedian find himself being thought of as a "distinguished political satirist?" Not that there aren't aspects of SKK that'll reflect a little of my world-view, but the tone here is definitely more in line with my novel or even with my sketch comedy writing. Anyway, how it happened:

Back in the ‘90s I was in an improv company with Steve Wacker. A great guy, and we did a bunch of shows together. He performed in a show I created at one point, and a little later I performed in a show he created, an improvised on-stage "comic book" called "Kabaam!" At some point, some guys from DC Comics attended the show, and Steve ended up becoming a junior editor there.

Flash forward a few years, to this summer. I've moved to LA, and Steve gets in touch with me. He's now a senior editor at Marvel, he's read my book and still listens to the radio show, and he thinks it might be cool if I were to take a whack at a comic book.

Somehow, through our conversations, "a comic book" becomes "a series." We're both happy about this - it gives me tons more freedom.

NRAMA: For our readers out there who want to know how to break into comics: Appear in a comedy troupe with a future editor! Simple as that! Had you read the previous Kill Krew series from the 1990s?

AF: Absolutely. Wait, I answered incorrectly! I hadn’t read it. Now I have.

NRAMA: What'd you think of the book?

AF: Well, the book wasn't really my kind of thing, to be honest. But there really was something interesting and sorta subversive going on there. I like the idea of these odd antiheroes, kind of doomed to hate the thing that they're becoming more and more like.

There were some cool character concepts too, like Moonstomp. He's a racist skinhead who finds himself not only having to follow a team leader who's black, but he's slowly turning black. Kinda pulling a reverse Michael Jackson.

NRAMA: What kind of shenanigans will the Krew find themselves getting into under the Dark Reign?

AF: Well, first the team needs to reassemble, and for some of them, I mean that literally - three of them are just heads in jars at that this point.

NRAMA: That could be a problem.

AF: Yeah, I sweartagod I didn't do it - the characters were handed to me that way. Though I'm having a ton of fun with it.

Plus, one of the SKK actually died, too. Which seems to be less of a limiting factor in the world of comics than it is in many other places.

Okay, onward.

The SKK is operating outside the mainstream. Their leader (and only original member still breathing and with a complete body), Ryder, has stumbled upon a terrifying fact. Let me sum it up this way -

Remember those Skrull-cows who'd been turned into hamburger?

What if, somehow, before they were killed..... they'd mated?

NRAMA: Ohhhh dear.

AF: Yes indeed Now you've got some interesting issues operating: These new Skrulls aren't from another planet.

They're from here.

They're a little confused, thanks to their bovine origins.

They're not happy.

And there are a lot of them.

NRAMA: So it sounds like it's up to the Krew to take out these...cow-Skrulls as opposed to Skrull-cows, and they might actually be perfectly, people. Or whatever you’d call them. Skrull-Veals?

AF: Exactly. And they don't look like cows anymore. They're savvy enough to realize what form you need on Earth to get into the trendier clubs. But they're also a little bit sensitive about the way they and their erstwhile bovine brethren are treated. This has not made them tremendous fans of humanity.

But actually, here's where it gets interesting: This native-born Skrull population begins to raise all kinds of issues: Do they have a right to be here? The SKK would say "No." And their violent tendencies certainly don't help their case -- the Skrulsl, not the SKK, I mean.

But it's complicated. And do these Earth-born Skrull, anger notwithstanding, have more in common with humans, culturally, than their own race? Will the killing let up long enough for anyone to find out? And what exactly is a "reverse rodeo?" and why is a certain noted superhero choosing to attend it?

NRAMA: And now, the stupidest of all questions: What do you think a Skrull burger tastes like?

AF: Pretty great. I'd say it's a transformative experience.

NRAMA: (rim shot) What's it been like writing in comic script format?

AF: Pretty cool. I've never done it. I've written sketches, novels, screenplays, TV shows, cartoons, magazine articles.... but I'd say this is a completely unique experience. There's a lot of freedom there, within the panels.

NRAMA: What's particularly unique about it?

AF: I'm just learning how to think about the page, I guess. Visually, your options are completely unlimited, which is both a great thing and a huge responsibility...

What I'm learning is to work with pacing in a visual way. Issue #1 is pretty frenetic. There's so much story to tell, so much really bizarre and entertaining backstory, it's just kinda jam-packed and nonstop.

But as I go forward, I'm letting it breathe a little more. Silence, pauses, can be so awesome in a comic book. they make a funny moment really hit, or a tense moment tenser, or they make the subsequent explosion of violence so much more , well, violent. You can do that to a certain extent in a screenplay, of course, but writing a comic book almost puts you in the position not just of writer, but writer/director.

NRAMA: Are you working on any other comic at this time, or do you see yourself doing more projects in the future?

AF: I've got nothing planned but I'm definitely open to it. Right now, though, my plate's pretty full. I'm on issue #3, a new season of Real Time starts February 20th, I've got a couple of TV pilots making their way around town, writing a treatment for a new screenplay, trying to sell a new novel...

NRAMA: So basically nothing going on.

AF: Right on. But short answer: Yes, I'd love to do more comic books. I'm having a blast.

NRAMA: Anything you'd like to talk about that we haven't discussed yet?

AF: Well, just one quick story. This summer I was working with Patton Oswalt, on a Comedy Central show, Lewis Black's the Root of All Evil.

NRAMA: Hey, we all love Patton here at Newsarama. And he should do lots of interviews with us. Hint.

AF: When I was trying to decide whether or not to do this thing, Steve told me that Patton had written a couple of comic books, so I asked him about it. He said he had a great time doing it. And he didn't say anything like, "It's impossible, it's not of our world, run!

So that was one of the reasons I decided to go for it. Come to think of it, I don't think there was any reason to tell that story other than to name-check Patton. Hi, Patton! (laughs)

Skrull Kill Krew #1 kicks Skrull butt on April 1.

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