After putting Empyre #2 down, the first thought that came to mind is this event gives a lot of bang for your buck, even priced at $4.99. This event is bringing together a lot of deep Marvel histories, like Kree, Skrull, and more recent developments in a concise and easy to follow way. I can’t say I know every detail about say, the Swordsman, but enough info is given in each issue so that you don’t have to. This issue resolves a lot of the trouble in the first issue while setting in motion an epic battle on Earth itself.
The last issue ended with our heroes duped by Quoi, the prophesied Celestial Messiah, and his father, the Swordsman. They thought he was a good guy–they have a long history with the character–but Quoi used the Avengers to help strike out at the Kree/Skrull armada now lead by Hulking. This issue is a direct result of that mistake, as the preview shows the Marvel trinity (Thor, Cap, Iron Man) are captured.
This opens up the book to some speeches, explanations, and a wider lens view of what is going on. It’s obvious who the players are in the battle, but this issue gives much-needed context as to why they battle at all. This issue reads similarly to Empyre #0: Avengers thanks to the postulating going on, and while it slows the first half of this book down, I’d argue it helps convey the rich history being rooted in this event.
The second half of the book is devoted to resolution and a little victory for the heroes. This opens the book up with action, heroic moments, and a coming together of characters. It also sets the stage for a new direction for a popular character as well as further details about crucial tools in the war. It comes together in an effective way.
This second half, along with much of the narrative being speeches from the bad guy, does reduce the conflict and stakes of the book. Yes, an army willing to kill all of humanity is near Earth, but there hasn’t been enough done to make us believe the heroes are at a disadvantage. The epic nature of the book is well done as far as destiny is concerned, but we need more showing of power to back it up.
The art by Valerio Schiti and colors by Marte Gracia are stronger here than in the first issue. Cool spaceships, well laid out montaged flashbacks, and a color palette that’s rich in blue, purple, and pink bathe the book in cosmic awesomeness. Schiti has always been a workhorse capable of drawing a lot on the page as aesthetically pleasing as humanly possible. He does so here.
Empyre is turning out to be an epic space saga with the complexities of a novel, delivered in the bright glory of the comic book format. It also has deep roots in Marvel’s history that longtime readers will respect. Empyre is shaping up to be a book that lives up to Roy Thomas and Neal Adams’ Kree/Skrull War.