WAR is coming to the Marvel Universe and with it a new Marvel Comics event: EMPYRE. Following the events of Incoming! published in 2019, EMPYRE will see Kree-Skrull Alliance ruler Dorrek VIII – previously known as Hulking and Teddy Altman – launching the “final war” on Earth. Hey, that’s where we live!
Luckily for us humans, the likes of The Avengers, The Fantastic Four, and The X-Men will be defending Earth, and the Marvel cosmic universe at large, in a series of tie-ins that run from the April Avengers #0 and Fantastic Four #0 to the end of the event in July. Captain Marvel is also along for the ride, of course, but things seem a little shakier there – her being the Supreme Accuser of the Kree Empire and all. Twists to come!
[Insert Star Wars-esque title scroll here – do we have the rights to that?] Feeling caught up? Good!
With all that said, WELCOME to the very first column devoted to Empyre — Empyre State of Mynd where column editors and Empyrical Emcees David Brooke and Forrest Hollingsworth pick the minds of the events creators, editors, and writers working diligently on the event – with your help! To start we had planned to discuss all things cosmic with editor Tom Brevoort, but alas, dear readers, scheduling conflicted and he could not attend to your questions. Thankfully associate editor Alanna Smith and assistant editor Martin Biro filled-in to dish – check out all their answers below!
And! as an added bonus check out an exclusive look at the Empyre #2 cover by Jim Cheung!
We start off with two questions from Forrest and Dave:
AIPT: How much research went into consolidating the timelines and storylines of the entire Marvel Universe to make Empyre work?
EMPYRE editors: Well, Tom Brevoort, Dan Slott, and Al Ewing are all encyclopedias for Marvel lore—so not as much as you’d think!
What was the selection process like for creators on certain titles? Obviously some, like Kelly Thompson, are working on their books already, but how did you go about picking the one-shots, new titles, etc?
EMPYRE editors: Really, it’s just about whoever we think can best tell a given story. And whoever has time to take on more work, of course!
AIPT: Three of the smartest minds coming together for an event that spans deep Marvel lore? Yes please. Our next question touches on what you might want to read to prepare for Empyre.
Not That Cringey asks, “Which events and storylines is Empyre building off of?”
EMPYRE editors: We’re pulling from the “Celestial Madonna Saga,” the Kree/Skrull War, obviously, the conflict in Fantastic Four between Bel-Dann and Raksor that we touched on in INCOMING!, and a healthy dose of Young Avengers! It’s also going to connect to current events in both FF and AVENGERS, but if you haven’t been keeping up with those books, we’ve made sure the Empyre story is a good jumping-on point!
AIPT: That’s a fascinating bit of detail and it’s highly recommended to check those stories — some reaching all the way back to 1971 — to enrich the story. Next we have two questions from Dano_Cosmic about planning.
Dano_Cosmic asks a bevy of questions starting with, “Really curious how long Empyre has been in the works at Marvel?”
EMPYRE editors: We started planning in earnest waaaay back in April 2019, and I think we had preliminary discussions even earlier than that in a creative retreat where we were discussing what would eventually become INCOMING! So it’s been in the works for almost a year now—and even longer, if you count all the stories we’re touching on here.
Dano_Cosmic follows that up with, “It seems that Empyre will touch many characters so very curious at what kind of coordination goes on between the multiple offices (X-Men in particular given the Blue Area of the Moon preview pgs)? Thanks!”
EMPYRE editors: Once we had concrete Empyre plans, we shared them with a bunch of our creators in our most recent retreat, so they were all able to chime in and add ideas and figure out where their characters might fit in. When we had the Cotati seed the blue area, it felt like a natural fit to get the X-Men involved, since there are basically a bunch of sentient weeds on their lawn now. So we all keep in touch and everything goes through the core Empyre team (Tom Brevoort, Al Ewing, Dan Slott, myself and Martin Biro) at the pitch and script stage. It’s definitely a lot to keep track of, so communication is very important—we’ve practically got a revolving door of people coming in and out of our office to check on stuff.
AIPT: “Sentient weeds” is an interesting way to categorize the lifeforms on Krakoa – is that Hickman Approved?! Next, a question about a few specific characters and whether or not they may show up in the event.
YoursTrulyBC47 then asked, “Any chance Hala the Accuser, Va-Sohn, Joras-Kyl, Tsu-Zana, Lyja will appear in Empyre?”
EMPYRE editors: I actually brought up Va-Sohn in the original retreat! But she didn’t quite fit—STARBRAND & NIGHTMASK was one of my favorite books to work on, so I’m still hoping she’ll show up again someday!
AIPT: Unfortunately no Va-Sohn — sorry, Sohn-nites! or…Sohn-heads..or… moving on! In our next question we learn a bit about the collaborative writing process between Dan Slott and Al Ewing.
Zachrabiroff asked, “Can you speak to the writing process that’s gone into this event? How have Dan Slott and Al Ewing worked together (and with you) to plot and craft the story, and how are each of them working to make it interact with their own books?”
EMPYRE editors: We had a retreat at the beginning of all this where me, Dan, Tom, Al, C.B. and a few more people from editorial got together to hash out all the big beats—not unlike what we did in the past for the two Avengers Weekly series. So it was a super collaborative process to begin with, which became even more collaborative when we brought it to the wider retreat and got a ton of great ideas from our other creators. Dan already had some stuff brewing in FF that fit into this really nicely, and Al’s been steering the ship like a champ. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t bring up Valerio Schiti, who’s crafted some absolutely killer designs to give Empyre its look. The new Cotati, the Kree/Skrull army, Quoi and Mantis’ redesigns, the ships, Hulkling’s badass regalia—that’s 100% Valerio magic!
AIPT: Once again the Marvel retreats continue to prove fruitful for idea creation and collaboration. Next, we get a question about the Avengers (you know them, you love them).
From LA72786919, “Can you tell us about the Empyre: Avengers lineup?”
EMPYRE editors: Jim Zub’s writing the Empyre: Avengers tie-ins, so you can expect to see some of our Avengers Weekly favorites back—the Maximoff twins, Wonder-Man and Doctor Voodoo, along with some wildcards like Ka-Zar, Shanna and Mockingbird—it’s going to be pretty rad!
Next, MaliciousGlee asked, “Will we see the wider Vell legacy explored at all? I know there’s really only alternate universe Phyla popping around now…but…” are there any other cosmic characters considered for the story but not included? Cool that Swordsman is getting a one-shot btw!”
EMPYRE editors: Let’s just say Hulkling’s family is a pretty major part of the story!
AIPT: In our final questions we have a little fun and talk a bit about the editing process.
AIPT: What special considerations go into editing Empyre?
EMPYRE editors: Keeping track of where all the characters are, but also making sure characters don’t get lost in the shuffle—it’s really important when you’re working on a big event that you prioritize human moments and character arcs, otherwise it just starts to feel like a bunch of action figures. So we’re digging deep on this one! Gonna give you some big feelings!
AIPT: Aliens are attacking Earth. Your best defenses are taking on the brunt of the force but danger still lingers. What’s the first thing you do?
EMPYRE editors: I’d rather be pals with the aliens than fight them! So I’d probably die trying to invite them to an AEW watch party, but that seems like a noble death.
What lasting impression do you hope Empyre has on the cosmic side of marvel and events at Marvel in general?
EMPYRE editors: I think the cosmic side can feel really big and abstract, and it’s hard to really feel the stakes of things that happen out in space. With Empyre, we’re really looking to make the cosmic feel intense, immediate and intriguing—so hopefully, we’ll hit our marks!