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The Untold Truth Of Marvel's Kro

The Deviant Warlord Kro was a key character in Jack Kirby's original run on "The Eternals." A variation of the "New Gods" comics he did for DC, "The Eternals" was possibly inspired by Erich von Däniken's pop culture hit book (and later film) "Chariots of the Gods?" Von Däniken's book ascribed mysterious phenomena in ancient civilizations to the influence of alien space gods, and Kirby took that ball and ran with it, creating a race of omnipotent space gods called the Celestials and two variant races on Earth in addition to humans. One was the near-immortal Eternals, who were duty-bound to serve the Celestials. The other was the genetically unstable Deviants, who mostly lived underground or under the sea. They hated the Eternals, humanity, and the Celestials and vowed to destroy all three.

Kro was important because while he was an ambitious schemer, he wasn't the force for pure evil like many of the other Deviant leaders. His love for the Eternal leader Thena may have been tumultuous, but it bound them together, even if it never quite worked out because of the enmity between their people. Just like the incredible powers and longevity of the Eternals often had people mistaking them for gods, so, too, did Kro's long life and general contempt for humanity create myths of him being the devil. Let's take a look at his long and sometimes surprising history. 

Golden Age Retcon

Kro delighted in fooling humans who mistook him for the devil or the Roman god of the underworld, Pluto. One of the earliest Marvel heroes was the speedster, the Hurricane, introduced in "Red Raven Comics" #1. He was introduced as being the god Mercury, sent by Zeus to combat Pluto, who was leading humanity into endless war as the dictator Rudolph Hendler. The Hurricane outsmarted him and prevented a battle.

The next time the Hurricane appeared, it was in the pages of the famous "Captain America Comics" #1. That's the cover that featured Cap punching Hitler, so Jack Kirby was no longer shy about directly opposing the dictator. This time around, the Hurricane (this time introduced as the son of Thor!) fights a bunch of gangsters led by a Paul Sayden, a not-so-subtle reference to Kro's devilish appearance. Kro/Pluto also creates a plague in Brazil that the Hurricane thwarts in "Captain America Comics" #2 and plants a series of "infernal death boxes" on New York subway cars that gangsters then plunder in "Captain America Comics" #3. The Hurricane catches up to Kro in his identity of "S. Devile" and literally punches him into the atmosphere.

Years later, in "Marvel Universe" #7, Pluto was retconned to be Kro, and the Hurricane was revealed to be Makkari the Eternal. Both continued their long history of assuming the identity of other mythological figures in order to hide the truth about their races from humanity. 

Almost an Eternal

The Celestials altered the DNA of humanity's ancestors ages ago. Humanity received a latent x-factor that resulted in mutants. The Celestials created the Eternals to be functionally immortal and nearly impossible to kill, given their control of their bodies at a molecular level. However, they very rarely mate, and their population has always been small. The Deviants were created with extreme genetic instability, and this resulted in wildly unpredictable life spans. It also resulted in some truly horrific mutations, which the cold-blooded Deviants either killed or put into use for combat. Their mutates provided the stuff of nightmares for humans, as these Deviants inspired many myths.

Kro is unique among the Deviants because he is immortal, just like the Eternals. He is thousands of years old, something he's had to hide over the millennia from his fellow Deviants. He has the same kind of control over his body at a molecular level, much like the Eternals, and his ability to change his body's shape allowed him to disguise himself as various kinds of devils and demons. This is a trick he used a number of times, and he loved playing up that he was the devil himself, even if he claimed to be from outer space!

Thena: a love story

Thena is the proud and slightly arrogant Eternal who is a fierce, noble warrior. She and Kro met thousands of years ago and realized that they had a lot in common. Thena saw Kro's innate nobility and was drawn to it, while Kro was drawn not only to her light but by the way she made him want to be better. They met nearly 5,000 years ago in ancient Babylon, spending a few idyllic weeks together. They knew it couldn't last, however, and they parted ways. 

Thousands of years went by before they saw each other again in 1960s Vietnam, right in the middle of the war. Thena was surprised to see him, given the Deviants' short life span, but Kro revealed that they had more in common than they thought. In the midst of chaos, their feelings were stronger than ever, but they did not stay together.

When the fourth Celestial host lands on Earth in "Eternals" #2, the Deviants and Eternals have been hidden for millennia. Kro is hamming it up as a kind of "space devil" in order to frighten humans into attacking the Celestials, and his Deviants battle the Eternals. Once again, he pauses when he encountered Thena, even agreeing to explain himself to a human scientist in "Eternals" #6. Later, in "Eternals" #8, he hopes to impress her with a tour of Deviant Lemuria, only to see her repulsed by its senseless violence. Over the years, even when they're on opposite sides, they save each's other lives constantly. 

A forbidden legacy

When Kro and Thena had a tryst in Vietnam, there was an unexpected complication: Thena became pregnant. Knowing that the children of an Eternal and a Deviant would never be accepted by either culture, she went to California and found a woman who had just come from a fertility clinic. Thena sensed that she desperately wanted children, so she knocked her out and used Eternal technology to transfer her pregnancy over to the woman. The result was twins: Donald and Deborah Perkins. Throughout all this, Kro never knew he had children. Thena did look in on them from time to time but never interfered in their lives.

However, in "Eternals: The Herod Factor" #1, a monster starts murdering twins in California. At the same time, the Eternal Phastos finds a scroll containing a prophecy regarding the "ordained ones," who are the spawn of an Eternal and a Deviant, and how they'll rule the world. The Deviants receive a similar scroll, threatening to cause a war between the Deviants and Eternals, with humanity in the middle. Thena panics, finds the twins, and then tells Kro about his children. The monster kidnaps the kids, and the Eternals trace it to Dr. Daniel Damian, an archaeologist whose daughter died in the war between Eternals and Deviants. Damian had turned the Eternal Ajak into the monster, and Ajak committed suicide and took Damian with him in response. Kro and Thena have a tearful reunion with their children, and they're now closer than ever. 

Monster Mash

Why were there so many monsters running around the Marvel universe in the 1950s? Was it nuclear paranoia? Was it nature seeking her revenge? Was it humanity tampering with forces beyond their comprehension? As it turns out, it was none of these things. It was Kro, once again creating all sorts of shenanigans. Still in disguise after fighting the Hurricane in the 1940s, Kro wasn't above working with Soviet saboteurs in order to cause chaos. 

Once again opposed by the Hurricane, this time around working as a federal agent alternately named Jake Curtiss or Mike Curry, Kro's plan in "Marvel Universe" #7 is to create enough fear and paranoia among humans to tilt them into starting nuclear war. The Deviants would not only be able to survive those harsh post-apocalyptic conditions, but they would thrive in them and conquer the world. 

Opposing Kro is a team of Monster Hunters with years of experience. The first member, Dr. Anthony Druid, was the harbinger of Dr. Strange and a formidable fighter and mentalist as a young man. The immortal Ulysses Bloodstone, who's been on a millennia-long quest to find the monster who killed his people, also joins the group. The final member is Zawadi of the Wakandas, who made contact with the outside world long before T'Challa opened up its borders. The monsters Kro is creating are actually advanced Deviant mutates, but the Monster Hunters free the Hurricane in Kro's lair on Monster Island. Kro escapes, sacrificing his creations. 

Assault on Olympia

The purpose of the fourth Celestial host was to pass judgment on Earth's survival. The judgment period was supposed to be 50 years, but Thor and the Eternals forced the issue. Ultimately, the Celestial Arishem the Judge rules in Earth's favor in "Thor" #300. However, the leader of the Eternals, Zuras, dies battling the Celestials. The Deviants, though one of their headquarters is destroyed by a Celestial, are mostly spared by this conflict. When they learn that Zuras is dead, the Celestials, led by Brother Tode, quietly infiltrate the Eternals' home Olympia and subdue them all. 

The Eternals are kept unconscious by Deviant Brain Mines, which can be used to control or render opponents unconscious. The only exception is Thena, whom Kro revives from time to time, begging her to run away with him. Thena would never consider abandoning her people, so she refuses each time, going back under the influence of the Brain Mine. However, Thena manages to mentally summon Jim Rhodes, then early in his career as Iron Man, in the "Iron Man Annual" #6.

Rhodes frees Thena, who briefly goes insane when her consciousness is connected to that of Zuras, who's going to the land of the dead. When she recovers, she frees the rest of the Eternals, who rout their longtime enemies. Kro goes along with all of this but hates working for Tode. All he really cares about is Thena. When the Eternals turn the Deviants into a cube of solid matter, Thena secretly spares Kro's life.

Time of the Tode

The Eternals were always the servants of the Celestials, and the time had come to summon the fourth Celestial host. Brother Tode, leader of the Deviants, is aware that the Celestials are coming and hopes to keep them away. When the Deviants ruled the Earth at the time of the coming of the second host, they dared to attack the Celestials. The space gods were not amused, causing the Great Cataclysm that flooded the planet, wiping out the Deviants. Tode obviously doesn't want this to happen again. In "Eternals" #1, he sends the loyal Warlord Kro to stop the Eternals from activating the beacon that would draw the Celestials to Earth, essentially acting as air-traffic controllers and a landing crew. Kro fails, and after Brother Tode tortures him as punishment, Kro tries his next plan. In "Eternals" #3, he takes a Deviant force, stationed under the water, and alters his form to look like the Devil. He claims that Satan has returned to Earth from the stars in order to conquer it, landing in New York City. 

Of course, this is total nonsense. However, Tode's plan is to frighten the humans enough into attacking the Celestials while the Deviants sit out the conflict. Kro only obeys Brother Tode because he has to, since he's royalty. When Tode and the rest of the Deviant ruling class are defeated and ejected into space by the Eternals, Kro will try to make a move to rule. 

Struggles with Ghaur

After finally being freed by Thena, Kro plans to stake a claim as Lemuria's leader. He agonizes over this, knowing that if he's the Deviants' leader, he'll have to wage war on the Eternals; in the end, Kro decides the power would be worth it. To his great surprise, in "Eternals" Vol. 2 #2, he finds that the priest Ghaur had taken a prominent position of power. The priests had long held a ceremonial role in Deviant culture, weeding out the worst of the mutates for destruction. Ghaur wanted to rule them, and Kro was in his way. However, the Priests' role had long been naming the new ruler, so he gives Kro the ruling circlet. Then, in "Eternals" Vol. 2 #3, he sends Kro on a mysterious mission that includes declaring war on the Eternals

Thena had given Kro a Bonding Crystal that kept them in emotional contact, having secretly rescued him from the destruction of the Deviant ruling class. Even when she was named the new ruler of the Eternals, her feelings for Kro intensified. She even secretly saves him from certain death in a battle against the Eternals in "Eternals" Vol. 2 #4, drawing the suspicion of Ikaris. When she appears at Kro's side and saves him in a later duel with Ikaris in "Eternals" Vol.2 #7, she and Kro go on the run together, fugitives of both their peoples. In #11, Ghaur obtains a vial that contains the essence of the dreaded Dreaming Celestial and seizes its power. Only the combined power of Kro, the Eternals, and the Avengers can stop him in the next issue.

Delta Force

Kro is inspired to give Deviants a chance to better themselves by forming Delta Force in Avengers #370. When Sersi approaches him to help save her fellow Avengers from a trap sprung in Lemuria by renegade priests, Kro is ready. He uses his Delta Network of Deviants "seeking a better life for themselves and others" to summon an appropriate rescue team. He recruits the wrestler Enigmo, who can split up his body. There are the noble former gladiators Ransak the Reject and Karkas, working with Kingo in Hollywood. There's the Red Bull, who's bonded with a young boy. The empath Dragona and Kro's own children Donald and Deborah also agree to help. 

The rescue is a trap, as the priests recapture Sersi and resurrect Ghaur, Kro's long-time rival. Ghaur absorbs the energies of peak examples of various genetic groups (Inhuman, Eternal, human, Olympian god, etc.) to create a powerful Uni-Mind that he controls in "Avengers #371." However, Delta Force is able to rescue the Black Knight, and his psychic connection with Sersi allows him to disrupt the Uni-Mind and free her. Ghaur forces them all to flee Lemuria, but Kro vows that his Delta Force will strike back.

The Deviants Saga

Ghaur manages to resurrect himself a few times, and Kro surprisingly decides to serve him. When a plague renders every male Deviant sterile, the restless Deviants demand answers from Ghaur. Meanwhile, the Deviant Erishkigal is plundering the remains of Asgard, looking for something to help her people and seize power from Ghaur. Thor prevents her from taking the golden apples of Idunn in "Thor: The Deviants Saga" #1, but he fails to stop her from stealing something far more dangerous: the Unbinding Stone of Oshemar, forged by the extradimensional wizard as an all-destroying artifact. Oshemar brought it to Asgard as the last surviving member of his universe before he died. 

In the next issue, Kro storms Olympia to steal the Eternals' resurrection chamber, but it has been destroyed. Its creator, the Eternal Phastos, claims he can make it work again. He goes off to the Savage Land with Thor in order to get the vibranium he needs to fix it. Meanwhile, Kro tracks down Erishkigal and tells her that he's only pretending to serve Ghaur, and he thinks the Stone could give him an edge. Erishkigal can't decipher how to operate it, but in Kro realizes that it's activated by tracing its runes on its surface. Once activated in "Thor: The Deviants Saga" #5, it disintegrates Ghaur and Erishkigal. Thor saves the day with the metal-destroying properties of Savage Land vibranium and obliterates the stone, saving Kro. Kro, no longer caring about power, ironically becomes the new leader of the Deviants. Phastos remains in Lemuria to discover a solution to their plague.