Don’t forget to read our column Empyre State of Mynd filled with details and insight into the series from the creators themselves.
This is a non-spoiler review of Empyre #1, which kicks off this week after Empyre #0: Fantastic Four and Empyre #0: Avengers lead into it. Both of those issues did a lot to set things up, and that lets Empyre #1 knock it all down. I don’t think you need to read the zero issues to understand or enjoy Empyre, but I will say the thrill is greater if you do. It’s gearing up to be an interesting event because of the number of species in play between Kree, Skrull, Human, and Cotati.
When I put this book down I felt satisfied that the war underway is worth reading. Frankly, I was surprised I didn’t see the cliffhanger coming given Incoming! #1 and solicitations, but that surprise added to my enjoyment of this issue. Considering other comic book events involving war haven’t felt necessary or given me a good reason to care about the stakes in play, I’d wager this is one of the best starts to a wartime comics event ever.
The book opens where we left the Fantastic Four in the Empyre #0: Fantastic Four and begins to get certain things in order before confrontation takes place. That makes the opening a tad slow, leaving you wanting more oomph in the story upfront, but once things get going the politics of Empyre begin to come into focus.
As far as politics, Hulking obviously plays a part, and the Celestial Messiah does too — who we saw in Empyre #0: Avengers — but it’s in the natural way writers Al Ewing and Dan Slott situate the Avengers and Fantastic Four that makes developments interesting. Mistakes are made, choices are enacted, and with war looming it’ll be hard for anyone to catch their breath. That sets up exciting character dynamics for a fast-paced war story to unfold alongside.
Since this is an event, you can tell the creators are dialing things up quite a bit. I won’t say what, but there are some big fun ideas only superhero comics could pull off. The kind that make you think, “Why didn’t anyone think of this before?” All I’m going to say is Ghost Rider fans won’t want to miss this issue. It’s in these clever ideas that the book truly sings if you’re a longtime comic book reader.
The art by Valerio Schiti and colors by Marte Gracia are fantastic, — the story is seriously enhanced thanks to the visuals. There are impactful moments throughout the book as well as smaller visual ideas that work splendidly. You’ll get a crack out of an Iron Man emoji and fear for the characters when an army begins to rise. Schiti does a fantastic job with Mr. Fantastic and his abilities, and Ghost Rider may be the showstopper in this issue thanks to the vivid colors in the fire and attention to detail.
This is a book that creeps up on you with its very clever final page. As far as first issues in event comics go, this will likely make many who didn’t even know who the Skrull or Kree are want to keep reading. The opening salvo for Empyre reminds us superhero comics are fun, stakes are high, and clever ideas prevail.