If hopelessly fucking up a space mission and walking away with superpowers and being adored by millions will foster a healthy ego, Reed Richards is the kind of rich genius who looked at that ego and said, "Yes, I'll have some of that, please. A little more. You know what, just leave the bottle." When the high that comes from having people call you "Mister Fantastic" with a straight face wears off, you've got to do something to replace it, and alien invasion + bored genius = opportunity! That was the case early in the Fantastic Four's career, when they successfully repelled a race of alien shape-changers called the Skrulls but were left with three captives. Noting that "no jail could hold them," Reed's solution was to force his prisoners to take the form of cows, then hypnotize them and ship them off to a random farm in upstate New York.
Fantastic Four #2
Where they excelled at shitting and blank stares.
Why's That So Bad?
On the surface, that just sounds like typical Silver Age goofiness. Where it gets disturbing is when you realize Richards didn't command the Skrulls to look and act like cows; he hypnotized them into thinking they were cows. Taking a group of beings with human intelligence or greater and knocking their IQ down to that of nature's most grillable animal is the equivalent of psychic lobotomy, since Richards had no intention of ever reversing it. Considering that's basically how One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest ended, someone should've been out there with a few pillows sending those once-mighty conquerors to Skrull Valhalla. (Skrulhalla?)
Fantastic Four #2
"But first, pull my finger!"
Still, being a cow isn't so bad. After all, what do we tend to do to cattle? If you said "Milk them," you're right. If you said "Kill them, slice them into cuts of meat and eat them," you are also correct! And you're not even a supergenius. Which is why it's so odd that Richards wasn't keeping tabs on these alien cows he created, allowing them to be mixed in with regular cattle and sent to a slaughterhouse.
Skrull Kill Krew #2
"I don't have a thesaurus. Is 'justice' a synonym for 'cruel and unusual punishment'?"
The meat would be consumed by many people, some of whom died. Others developed superpowers and a fatal neurological disorder and decided to seek revenge by exterminating all Skrulls. But really -- when you eat tainted pork, do you declare jihad on pigs, or blame the farmer who allowed his diseased swine to be butchered? Richards may not have killed the Skrulls, but he made them stupid, left them in a prime position to be killed and decided it wasn't worth his time to keep an eye on them. The only question is who had it worse: the Skrulls, or the people who unknowingly ate alien flesh?
Skrull Kill Krew #2
Yeah, we're gonna go with the flesh one.
Until remembering Simpsons quotes is a paid position (with benefits), Drew Anderson writes things on the Internet. You can read his food reviews here and his movie reviews here.
For more superhero actions that left us speechless, check out The 5 Creepiest Sex Scenes in Comics and The 6 Most Ridiculous Superhero Weaknesses.
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