With Skrulls, the longtime antagonistic extraterrestrial race from the Marvel Universe, poised to make their Marvel Cinematic Universe debut this week in Captain Marvel, Marvel Comics is following suit by launching a new miniseries with the aliens front and center. Written by Robbie Thompson (Silk) and illustrated by Niko Henrichon (Doctor Strange), Meet the Skrulls tells the tale of a sleeper cell family of Skrulls, disguised as a typical American family in the heart of suburbia. The five-issue miniseries will watch the family integrate themselves with human society in a bid to gather useful information in a wider infiltration and invasion of Earth... only their mission may not be as secret as they initially believe.
At first glance, with its family including teenaged children in high school and suburbs of Washington, D.C. setting, it may be easy to compare Meet the Skrulls with Tom King and Gabriel Walta universally acclaimed 2015 Vision. But while there are certainly superficial similarities between the two, Thompson and Henrichon's story appears to be more informed by the popular FX Cold War television series The Americans. Like the Emmy Award-winning show, which follows a Soviet family sleeper cell in 1980s America, Meet the Skrulls has its own family gathering state secrets while avoiding suspicion as they navigate their own complicated familial relationships.
Thompson's tight scripting introduces the series' eponymous cast of alien spies and their respective objectives as they infiltrate American society. The four-member family each gets their due, along with differences in infiltration techniques and personalities, setting the interpersonal dynamic moving forward. And with the Skrulls youngest daughter, Alice, experiencing her own high school woes, which is affecting her clandestine mission, Thompson's script adds plenty of teen angst and drama in the story, with the young Skrull serving as a P.O.V. character to the tale. That isn't to say it's all a somber, heavy-handed affair, fortunately; Thompson's wicked sense of humor is present, yet never obtrusive, making this first issue an entertaining read despite its sinister premise and foreboding overtones.
The other major factor is establishing the mood of the miniseries is Henrichon's artwork. Working with color assistant Laurent Grossat, Henrichon gives even the most cookie-cutter suburban settings an atmospheric, tense air. The homes and schools of Meet the Skrulls are immediately recognizably middle-class American, but the art team's work with shadows and hues makes it clear that all is not normal beneath the surface. Visually, the comparison to Vision and The Americans is still there, but Henrichon renders this subversive incarnation of suburbia as his own, a distinct continuation of his previous style on Doctor Strange, but playing up the natural suspense of this story.
Despite its paranoid, thriller storytelling sensibilities, Thompson and Henrichon firmly set Meet the Skrulls in the heart of the Marvel Universe. One particularly iconic superhero shows up during the proceedings of the debut issue, and his entrance doesn't feel at all out of place. With nods to previous tales featuring Skrulls throughout the first issue, this feels organically as part of the universe while building its own darker, standalone corner within it. As with any conspiracy thriller, there is always the danger of being exposed by external threats or disavowed by superiors, and this issue makes both of those possibilities palpably real, with the stakes strongly established from the outset.
Fans of both Vision and The Americans will find lots to love in the opening issue of Meet the Skrulls and, fortunately, readers do not have to be overly savvy on the extraterrestrial race to be able to follow along. The same pervasive sense of paranoia in the other two works drive this miniseries forward as Thompson and Henrichon blend teen drama, superhero action and espionage intrigue into an entertaining tale. And with the stakes and mission statement all established in its debut, the miniseries is poised to escalate intensely across its remaining four issues.
Meet the Skrulls #1 is written by Robbie Thompson and illustrated by Niko Henrichon. It is scheduled to go on sale on March 6.