The ages old Kree/Skrull was has given way to an alliance between the ancient enemies, now on a collision course with Earth - but how did it come to this? While there have been clues in the lead up to Empyre, Marvel's upcoming summer event in which the Kree and Skrull team up, writer Robbie Thompson and artists Mattia De Iulis and Javier Rodriguez will set the stage with Road to Empyre: Kree/Skrull War, a one-shot setting the stage for Empyre.
Along the way, Thompson is bringing back the Warners - the family of Skrull agents at the heart of his Meet the Skrulls limited series - to show the history of the conflict from the perspective of the Skrull empire, and to add in a few twists along the way.
Newsarama spoke with Thompson ahead of Road to Empyre: Kree/Skrull War's March 25 release to get the big picture on the Empyre build-up, the skinny on how the Warners play into the conflict, and to talk about how decades of Marvel history have led to this story.
Newsarama: Robbie, you’re delving into some crucial bits of Marvel Comics history for Road to Empyre: Kree/Skrull War. How does this one-shot set the stage for the combined Kree/Skrull invasion?
Robbie Thompson: In Road to Empyre, we're going to be focusing on key events from what started the Kree/Skrull War to key players from that ongoing conflict, as well as a few surprises that will lead directly into the upcoming Empyre event. It's a fun journey through the cosmic side of Marvel's history, and it's all personalized through a Skrull family's point of view.
Nrama: You’re bringing back the Warner family – a family of Skrull agents on Earth with mission that just keeps getting more complicated – for this story. What’s it like reconnecting with them after your Meet the Skrulls series?
Thompson: I am so grateful Editor Tom Brevoort asked me not only to write this one-shot, but to bring back the Warner family in the process. Tom wanted this issue to remind faithful readers as well as welcome new ones of some of the epic cosmic events from Marvel's history, in order to set the stage for Empyre. But what I loved about his idea was that he didn't want it to feel like a history lesson. He wanted to personalize the events as well as ground them in the future by filtering it through the lens of the Warner family, a complicated bunch of Skrulls that have lived among humans on Earth for a long while.
I had really been hoping to revisit the Warner family after the mini-series Meet the Skrulls ended, and it's been an absolute joy to write them again and push their narrative further. In the mini-series, we got to know each member of the family, with an emphasis on Alice. In this story, we get more insight on Ivy, who was missing for years and presumed dead. I was thrilled to get to explore the family's dynamic in context of events that are going to change their status quo significantly.
I was just at C2E2 this past weekend and it was really exciting to see readers of the Meet the Skrulls be so excited to check out this new chapter in the Warners story, as well as new readers who had checked out the mini in anticipation of the one-shot and the event. If you haven't checked out Meet the Skrulls, you still have time! And in classic Marvel style, we of course make sure to bring everyone up to speed in the one-shot itself.
Nrama: Can we expect the Warner family to play a continuing role in Empyre?
Thompson: I certainly hope so! I would love the chance to tell more stories about these characters... but they have to survive this issue first!
Nrama: There are some clues as to how far back this story goes in the solicitation, which says it all starts “a millennia ago.” How deep does this secret history go?
Thompson: Our history will start at the beginning of the Kree/Skrull war. We get to see Emperor Dorrek of the Skrull Empire on his journeys through the universe, meeting Morag and the Kree. From there we touch on other classic characters from the Celestial Messiah to Hulkling.
Nrama: The original "Kree/Skrull War" was one of Marvel Comics’ first big blockbuster style stories. What key elements of that story are you bringing in here?
Thompson: For the Warners, this history is personal. The parents fought in the Kree/Skrull war, sacrificed a normal life to come to Earth, raised their kids here. As a result, their kids are more open to questioning that history. So, the events we bring up, whether its the war itself, or the Celestial Messiah, or Raksor and Bel-Dann battling on Earth, each event is used to explore the complicated feelings the kids have with their history, and the ways in which their mother is dedicated to this never-ending war that began far before they were born.
Nrama: You’ve got two artists working on Road to Empyre: Kree/Skrull War – Mattia De Iulis and Javier Rodriguez. How are their contributions split through the book? What do you see as their big strengths for their specific parts?
Thompson: Editors Tom Brevoort and Alanna Smith cast this book perfectly. They wanted one artist for the present day, and one artist for the past/history. Mattia is drawing the present and Javier is drawing the past. The contrast is absolutely stunning.
I've been a fan of Mattia's for a while and it's been a privilege watching how he builds his pages and creates so many emotional moments. He grounds the characters in each scene, all while delivering fantastic suspense. In his pages, in the present, we follow the Warners on their current mission: trying to track down who was behind the conspiracy in the mini-series. To their surprise, they discover it was actually a Kree. Mattia delivers amazing cinematic action, but never loses sight of the emotional drive of the characters. He's amazing.
As that game of cat-and-mouse escalates in the present, they discuss and debate the history of the endless battle with the Kree, and that's where Javier comes in. I've had the good fortune to work with Javier previously and he is an absolutely brilliant artist. He takes what's in the script, and honestly creates magic! He's a student of Marvel history and has a clear love of the cosmic side of the House of Ideas. He devours these scenes with his unique style, bold layouts, and inker Alvaro Lopez works his signature magic on each page. Javier's recent work on the History of the Marvel Universe was so gorgeous and inventive, and it's been a joy to see him have so much fun with these pages.
Nrama: What are the advantages of having two artists with different styles on a story like this? What narrative devices does that allow you to employ?
Thompson: I think the biggest advantage was being able to play with scale and scope. It's only one issue, but because each artist is pushing the emotion on each page, it feels like a much bigger comic. The weight and size of the events are so clear in Javier's pages, and Mattia then can play in contrast the emotional weight it takes on individuals like the Warners. When editor Martin Biro sent me the assembled pages I was blown away. It's both big and intimate and that's all thanks to Mattia and Javier's brilliant work.
Nrama: Empyre is a massive story with cosmic implications. What’s it like stepping into that playground through the lens of Marvel history?
Thompson: So. Much. Fun! There's moments in each storyline that really resonated me. From a fan perspective, what Javier does with all of these toys is breathtaking. And from a personal standpoint, these characters that Niko Henrichon and I created, mean the world to me. So, to get to see Mattia push their story into new emotional depths has been so rewarding. I'm grateful for the chance and I can't wait to see what readers think of the book!