A criticism I’ve had with Empyre‘s short run thus far is how slow it has been to bring the fight to Earth. Well, buckle up, as Empyre: Avengers gives us that and more. This is the first look at the war beginning on Earth’s hot spots. This three-part tie-in series aims to show us the battle on the front lines of Earth, from New York to the Savage Land. It should be noted you should read this after Empyre #2.
Written by Jim Zub, this series has similar vibes to his series Black Panther and the Agents of Wakanda, featuring a large cast of often underused heroes splitting up to help as many people as possible. The preview doesn’t give us much, but you can see Vision and Dr. Negative are on the scene in Manhattan assessing the threat. From here, the book jumps around between headquarters and other locales doing a good job establishing the battle is taking place nearly everywhere on Earth.
The strength of this book is how it uses characters who don’t usually get a lot of page time. It’s a breath of fresh air, since it allows for more exciting interactions we don’t usually see. A character like, say, Wonder Man, also has a unique perspective on fighting as he’s a pacifist. Zub keeps the tension high, too — as with the start of any war, both sides are trying to get their bearings and don’t yet have an edge.
The art by Carlos Magno is very clean and appealing. The opening page of all-out war is impressive, and the detailing on the aliens is good. Paired with color artist Espen Grundetjern, the art never lets you forget the wonderment of these heroes. It looks otherworldly and fantastic to see Vision floating around impossibly, for instance. Also, attention to detail is a huge aspect of the art, like Cap’s chainmail costume or the leaves in the alien enemies.
I could see a reader’s interest weaken if they aren’t super into the heroes selected as main characters here. I know I’m not entirely familiar with every single one, but rooting for a character sometimes stems from your own history with them. I also found the chaotic nature of the war hard to zone in on as the leading players on the bad-guy side have yet to be revealed. There is a big surprise for sure on their end of the battle, but a little more of the enemy would go a long way so that it wasn’t mindless bad guys battling.
I liked this issue for its ability to use lesser-utilized heroes and how it creates a sense of total chaos with the war on Earth starting. I’m still waiting for motivations to become more apparent on the bad guy side, but it’s still early yet.