Skrulls have finally stepped into the public eye after they featured as antagonists (and protagonists) in Captain Marvel earlier this year. To tie into their appearance in the film, Marvel decided to publish a 5-issue miniseries about a family of Skrulls, written by Robbie Thompson with art by Niko Henrichon. Marvel’s attempts at miniseries or events designed to tie into or piggyback off the popularity of their films and TV series have been fairly lackluster in quality, notably with Civil War 2 as well as other, smaller-profile books. Meet the Skrulls, however, is a major exception to that trend — it’s a stylish, meaningful exploration into identity and humanity in a way that could only be told with shape-shifting aliens.
The series focuses on a family of Skrulls working as spies for the Skrull empire, using their shape-shifting abilities to blend in with humans and use their trust against them. It delves into the dynamics of a family whose entire purpose revolves around lying to people, as well as immigrant culture and the desire to fit in. It’s a setup that’s reminiscent of the FX show The Americans but in the Marvel Universe, and it’s incredibly fun from the very beginning. The father of the family works for Tony Stark’s company as a scientist, and gathers intelligence about Stark’s resources and facilities. The mother is involved in politics, giving her an insider’s view of the government. The two daughters are both in school, the older one being a perfect manipulative popular teenager, while the younger one struggles far more heavily. Alice, the youngest child, struggles to be like the rest of her family — she’s timid and shy, and doesn’t like being mean to people. She’s the target of bullying rather than the bully herself, and her relationship with her race as well as her family is interesting and meaningful. Alice’s struggle with conformity is a thread that runs from the beginning to the end, as she grows into someone almost entirely different from who she was at the start.
Niko Henrichon’s art is a perfect fit for this book. Each individual character design is distinct, and the effect of the Skrulls transforming is really well done. When the main characters can look like anyone, a lot of the storytelling has to be done through body language and facial expressions, and needs to be even more precise than is standard in a comic, and Henrichon absolutely nails it. No matter who they are pretending to be, each character is easy to recognize under their facades. The page layouts are not hyper stylized or unconventional, but they do everything they set out to do extremely well. The whole book may not be conventionally pretty, but Henrichon’s art is far more interesting and well-designed than a house style could manage.
As a whole, this volume is well worth reading. It’s a unique story within the Marvel Universe that doesn’t affect anything and isn’t affected by anything. It’s a story with low stakes for the universe, yet high stakes for all the main characters, and is incredibly compelling from start to finish. Thompson and Henrichon have crafted a delightful small story that makes the entire universe feel just a bit bigger, and whether or not you’ve seen Captain Marvel, it’s a fantastic read.
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