Z'Reg is an extraterrestrial comic character who features in Marvel Comics.
Z'Reg was a male member of the Skrull race who inhabited the universe where he came to join the ranks of his peoples armada. Once there, he went through harsh combat training under an instructor alongside his comrades where he received a scar from a fellow recruit named K'rtem. After completing his training, he was given his assignment which was to infiltrate the planet Earth and its protectors. (Avengers: The Initiative v1 #15) He was sent to Earth in order to spy on the superhero team known as the Avengers. Shortly after arriving, Avengers Mansion was destroyed and the heroes disappeared for months. With his mission altered, he decided to get an apartment and masqueraded as a human being. In time, he halted communication with the rest of the Skrulls as he began to enjoy his time among humanity. He eventually took on the identity of Aubrey Tompson where he used his technology to spy on the people in the other parts of the apartment complex. In time, this became a boring habit as he was no longer entertained by the dramas in peoples private lives. However, he began to entertain the notion of becoming a superhero and sought to make his debut in that role. Around this time, his neighbour Curtis Doyle had come into possession of a ring-crafted fragment of the Cosmic Cube. The man used it to briefly debut as a hero called Freedom Ring though he was critically wounded and unable to walk after a fight. It was only the use of the ring that healed himself completely and whilst checking for his neighbour true he inadvertently stumbled on Z'Reg who decided to reveal his true identity. The Skrull then revealed that he was peaceful and wanted to work alongside Doyle in being a hero. This saw him training Curtis in using his ring to its maximum potential so that he could better operate as a superhero. (Marvel Team-Up v3 #23) They then participated in their first battle against a supervillain the form of an alternate version of Tony Stark who was known as the Iron Maniac. During the fight, the evil Stark came to learn that Crusader was actually a Skrull but before he could deal with him he was stopped by the arriving Avengers. As Crusader, Z'Reg was instrumental in saving several of the Avengers but was left critically wounded in the battle. In the fight that followed, Freedom Ring was killed when Iron Maniac used his armour to send a spear through his skull. The evil Stark was ultimately defeated and placed into custody with a funeral held for Curtis Doyle though Z'Reg came into possession of the reality-warping ring the slain hero had used in the field. (Marvel Team-Up v3 #24) Afterwards, there was an incident in New York where he responded to the scene as Crusader to witness the gathered heroes battle Titannus. To defeat his foe, he used the cosmic ring to shape a reality within where Titannus had seemingly killed the planet’s heroes. This was temporary until Doctor Strange learnt that the Skrull warrior was being controlled remotely by a pair of scientists in Japan who were arrested by the authorities. Captain America then thanked Crusader for his efforts thus leading to him being welcomed into the superhero community. (Marvel Team-Up v3 #25)
In the wake of the Civil War, the Crusader came to be listed as a potential recruit for the Initiative. (Civil War Battle Damage Report v1 #1) This led to his recruitment where he was taken for training at Camp Hammond alongside Ant-Man Eric O'Grady, Melee, Geldoff, Dragon Lord, Geiger, Red Nine, and Diamondback. (Avengers: The Initiative v1 #8)
He confronted the Skrull Yellowjacket where he used the Freedom Ring to dampen his powers as the two battled. In the fight, the Skrull threw a lethal gas that killed humans with Crusader being unaffected thus showing his true origins. Despite that, the Skrull Yellowjacket was killed in the fighting with the heroes being victorious as the invasion had been thwarted. In a moment of celebration, Crusader was shot in the head by 3-D Man who had detected his Skrull nature leading to Z'Reg reverting to his true form. During those final moments, he commented about it not being fair and that he wished things had gone differently whereupon his body vanished. (Avengers: The Initiative v1 #19)
Personality and attributes
In appearance, he was a typical member of the Skrull race with green-skin and long ears as well as other such features with a distinctive scar by his right eye. He had considered a number of superhero names for himself with him at first thinking of taking the name Avenger when the Avengers were missing. However, when they returned, he did not think that as viable and thus thought of Crusader. (Marvel Team-Up v3 #23)
He came to consider the role of a superhero to be a noble practice and something that did not exist on the Skrull homeworld. On being a hero, he never understood why heroes decided to choose a name that indicated their power-set as it highlighted their weaknesses. Instead, he thought that one should choose a name that gave no hints into his power as that was his primary advantage. (Marvel Team-Up v3 #23)
Powers and abilities
As a Skrull, he had the natural ability to change shape as was common with his species. This allowed him to change his appearance or adopt more monstrous and powerful forms. He was also naturally stronger than an ordinary human being. (Marvel Team-Up v3 #23) Z'Reg could morph his hands into hard blades to stab opponents or could expand his body to help cushion people if they fell from a great height. His Skrull physiology allowed him to withstand a great deal of damage such as a large wound through his chest. (Marvel Team-Up v3 #24)
He had access to a number of highly-advanced Skrull equipment. This allowed him to monitor and spy on more primitive people such as humans. (Marvel Team-Up v3 #23)
After the death of Freedom Ring, Z'Reg came to use his ring fragment of the Cosmic Cube that allowed him to alter reality in a limited range around himself. He could use it to manifest anything he wished for including creating female Skrulls to serve him. (Marvel Team-Up v3 #24) On the higher end, he could craft entire pocket realities around a person trapping them in a facsimile of the world. However, such an act required a lot of concentration with Crusader unable to maintain this for long. (Marvel Team-Up v3 #25)
- Crusaders was created by Robert Kirkman and Andy Kuhn where he made his first appearance in Marvel Team-Up v3 #23 (August, 2006).
- He was referred to as Z'Reg in Avengers: The Initiative v1 #15 (September, 2008).
- Marvel Team-Up v3:
- Civil War Battle Damage Report v1:
- Avengers: The Initiative v1: