Prepare yourself: the Skrulls will be invading Marvel cinematic history next year. It was revealed at SDCC 2017 that Captain Marvel would be taking on the famous green shape shifters in her upcoming film and just in time to get us hyped for the Skrull action is Rise of the Skrulls, a new new anthology series collecting stories from 1961 all the way to 2006.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Chart the history of the Skrulls — from their first visits to Earth to their devastating Secret Invasion! Meet the Super-Skrull, who wields all the powers of the Fantastic Four! Witness the Kree/Skrull War’s cataclysmic climax alongside the Avengers! The legendary Mar-Vell returns from the dead — or does he? And Carol Danvers is swept up in the alien intrigue as the Secret Invasion begins! Plus: Skrull infiltration attempts of the 1800s and 1950s! Galactus targets the Skrull throneworld! The Skrulls lose their shape-shifting powers! And more!
Why does this matter?
The jump in time of these stories is partly due to the book giving readers the big beat moments between the Skrulls and the merry Marvel heroes. Ranging from their first appearance to the deeply emotional stakes taken by Captain Marvel in his fight against them the series captures why these aliens are one of the most formidable foes ever to grace a Marvel comic.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
In a general sense, this book does a good job giving readers completely in the dark about the Skrulls a rev start in understanding them. It starts with their attempted invasion of Earth (thwarted by the Fantastic Four), carrying forward with their creation of the Super Skrull (again thwarted by the FF), the destruction of their homeworld by Galactus, their appearance in the old west, and eventually their slow infiltration of the world leading into the “Secret Invasion” event. This is an essential read leading into “Secret Invasion” because it captures the diabolical nature of these killers, but also their rather depressing history of failure.
These aliens have a good reason to be so angry at Earth and its inhabitants and this book does well to reveal that. From Mr. Fantastic hypnotizing the very first Skrulls into thiking they’re cows to constantly being punched in the teeth when their plans seemed close to completion these suckers deserve a little revenge which is covered in “Secret Invasion”.
This book also has a good balance of short and long stories like the Avengers/Fantastic Four crossover written by Roy Thomas (with art by John Buscema) to the single issue experience of Avengers: The Initiative written by Dan Slott and Christos Gage. The Jack Kirby and Stan Lee chapters are great rereads you’ll never tire of and John Byrne’s Fantastic Four #257 focuses exclusively on Galactus (and his Herald Nova who is totally in love with him) and may be one of the finest examples of a complete story in a single issue.
The closing chapters of this collection collect Captain Marvel written by Brian Reed and drawn by Lee Weeks. This story is a lot of fun with an dark underbelly and espionage feel mixing with superheroes nicely. With Skrulls involved you know there’s a twist somewhere along the line and Weeks does an exceptional job with layout design and realism throughout.
It can’t be perfect can it?
Not every story is a perfect gem especially a few of the closing chapters. The biggest problem I had with this work is how most of the twists and big reveals rely on the reader not expecting Skrulls to be involved. Considering the title of this book those reveals don’t come as a shock at all.
One could argue the schtick of the Skrulls is pretty one note. They’re evil, they want to conquer Earth, and their plans always seem to fall apart because they’re blinded by rage. Here’s hoping they’re a bit more complex in the Captain Marvel movie, though given how complex they got during “Secret Invasion” we shouldn’t be too worried.
Is it good?
This is a great read for anyone who hasn’t read a Skrull comic or wants to catch up on their early history. As a longtime reader, it was quite fun to read this as well though since there are some stories here I missed. The collected format Marvel Comics keeps putting out is like a close friend in the know who has slapped together a bunch of single issues that end up being a great read in one sitting.