It took extra time, but Empyre is out on July 15th after the COVID-19 hiatus. The prelude already begun in Empyre #0: Avengers, and today Empyre #0: Fantastic Four sheds light on the two-part opening salvo. Now that we’re caught up on what the Avengers are up to, Dan Slott, R. B. Silva, and Sean Izaakse will be taking us on a journey with the Fantastic Four as they try to fix a flat tire. However, said flat tire is fixed on a spaceship!
First off, this is a long read as the issue is 30 pages long. That’s extra action, focus on character, and twists and turns for every reader to enjoy. It needs every page of it, and you do too, because it’s a fun single-issue read delivering on the action, classic Fantastic Four family interactions, and supplies new sights and sounds that’ll likely be added to the Marvel universe going forward. As it stands this is highly enjoyable whether or not you’re going to read Empyre, but it adds a little something extra to the event.
You’re greeted with Marvel history on the very first page, but it means something by the end in a big way. Slott and company are introducing a major new player who we have seen in unlettered previews. She’s a new kind of villain, one that is tied to the monetary system of the cosmos, and she’s very conniving. It adds a new layer to comics in general — how often is an entire monetary system in peril? — and it gives this villain an angle that’s relatable but oh so evil.
Much like with war profiteers, this character is pitting Kree vs. Skrull in a gladiatorial ring every night for monetary gain. This not only reminds us of the historic value of the Kree/Skrull war, but it puts the epic Avengers battle into perspective. This helps add weight to the war in Empyre that’ll turn everything upside down and gives everything cultural context.
This issue also does a good job reminding us the Fantastic Four are hugely important. They’re well known, their past acts are part of history and we can see it as they venture forth in the issue. That’s a nice way of reminding readers of their value to the larger universe. They may have been gone for many years to us, but they’ve never been forgotten in this universe.
There are a couple of great references in this issue. The standout has to be the reference to the fantastic Valérian et Laureline by Jean-Claude Mézières, Pierre Christin, which you might be most familiar with in the movie Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. Dan Slott is very good at humanizing characters (just read literally any issue of Spider-Man), and he does it again here with great nods to pop culture. Not familiar with Valerian? That’s okay, there are more recent references in this issue!
The artistic team has done a great job with the visuals, especially the colors by Marte Gracia and Marcio Menyz. The book is as bright as you’d expect from the cosmos in a Marvel comic. There’s a richness to the color that is eye-catching, too. Just look at the two pages below and look around the woman’s head. See the texture?
It comes alive thanks to the colors, but also via the texturing, which creates a flashing light look by artist Sean Izaakse. Izaakse plays with angles well too, never letting us forget the gravity-defying environments in the space casino. I’m saying it right now, Izaakse may be in the top three artists when drawing the Thing. He’s equally monstrous and heroic whenever on the page.
R.B. Silva draws the introduction of the Fantastic Four to the issue and there’s a great sense of space being used to show each member as they stand around their broken spaceship. The use of color in this scene is also exquisite, creating a sense of wonderment in the cosmos above them. This scene helps create a sense of warmth amongst the team, but also the camaraderie of the family.
Letters by Joe Caramagna are as clean as the colors helping to keep things straight and emphasize where it needs to be. He’s one of the best for a reason!
When I put this comic book down I had a big smile on my face. It was a great journey in itself, but it puts in place important pieces as we enter Empyre #1 on July 15th. That makes it a joy to read, but also an important puzzle piece to the larger story. It also seems to be adding to the wider Marvel universe. By my count, that’s three big reasons why this is a must-read comic book if you’re a Marvel Comics fan.
If ever there was a comic that made me feel like we’re in good hands with Empyre, this is it. Run, don’t walk, to purchase the epitome of comic book fun.