'Road to Empyre: The Kree/Skrull War' #1 narrates Marvel's complicated history of the two empires succinctly
The comic does a great retelling of Kree/Skrull origins and the lead-up to 'Empyre,' but falls short of making either the Kree or the Skrull interesting again
Spoilers for 'Road to Empyre: The Kree/Skrull War' #1
'Empyre,' Marvel's big crossover summer event, is almost here, and there's a lot of very complicated backstory to be checking up on. Fortunately, Marvel has you covered in this area - though there are still a lot of questions left afterwards. While the issue does a great job of covering the complicated history that the Skrulls and the Kree have in Marvel continuity, told with as much heart as possible, it's still a stark reminder that neither the Kree, nor the Skrulls, have ever really been that compelling.
The problem with the Kree and the Skrull is that both of their entire races have been so heavily militarized that it's hard to see them as anything but antagonists. There have been notable exceptions - Captain Mar-Vell, and Lyja, and the various other "good" Skrulls; they tend to be the kinds of exceptions that prove the rules. The Kree's genetic experiments have been responsible for a lot of messes in the Marvel Universe, but even with their planet destroyed, it's hard to see them as sympathetic.
This issue does an admirable job of trying to accomplish just that. Picking up where 'Meet the Skrulls' left off, the suburban Skrull family spies, now reunited with their long lost daughter Ivy, are once again out performing missions for the Skrull Empire against the Kree, hunting down the Kree soldier who attacked them - only to find out he has a family of his own, a discovery made just in time to hear Teddy Altman's speech declaring peace between the two Empires. Interspersed with that story are explanations of Skrull myths, beliefs and history, all catching up on the most relevant stories that you need to understand the story 'Empyre' will be laying out.
The 'Present Day' arc, written by Robbie Thompson drawn by Mattia de Luis, looks incredible. There's the minor flaw that it can be very difficult to tell the Skrulls apart, but Luis sells some very poignant moments of the Warner family, as people who have been at war for as long as they can remember, going back millenia, who nonetheless hold out hope for peace - even if it is buried deep inside of them. The present-day storyline grounds the 'Empyre' epic in a single family of Skrulls, which may be the only chance we get to relate to the Skrulls before event crossover madness takes over everything, and the problem is that it's just slightly too little, too late.
Javier Rodriguez and Alvaro Lopez join Thompson in retelling the history of the Kree/Skrull Empires. While there are some great myths and stories woven in, displayed imaginatively by Rodriguez's skill for making heavy exposition fun, it's still a solid reminder that nothing about the Kree or the Skrull is particularly relatable, resonant, or even all that interesting. They have been at the center of some very complicated and weird storylines, but given the fact that the most interesting Kree and Skrull are those who stand apart from their respective empires, the people themselves don't come out looking so great.
There are still some unanswered questions - the issue doesn't explain WHY Teddy Altman chose now to unite the species, or why he's attacking Earth, but at least we know why plants and trees will be playing an important role in the conflict to come.
'Road to Empyre: The Kree/Skrull War' had a formidable task in front of it: to catch readers up on relevant history, and make both the Kree and the Skrull feel like their stories matter. While it succeeds on the much-needed exposition front, it falls just shy of giving readers a reason to care about the two ever-warring races now joining up to attack Earth.
'Road to Empyre: The Kree/Skrull War' #1 is out now, wherever comics are sold.