With Empyre #1 out of the way, it’s time to get to the tie-in comics, starting with Tini Howard, Jonathan Hickman, and Matteo Buffagni’s Empyre: X-Men #1, which is out this week. The complexities between the mutants, Krakoa itself, and the politics holding it all together come into focus in this issue while the plant baddies unleashed in Empyre #1 come down on their heads.
This is a spoiler-free review, so understand this book goes deep into certain aspects of X-Men history. The preview didn’t go there, but it’s there at the start of the issue. That adds a deeper purpose to the tie-in, which will run four issues. This issue is a promising start as there is a real reason for this tie-in outside of being created to sell books for an event.
What makes this issue work so well is how it breaks up into three focuses: 1. Angel as the leader of X-Corp and what that means to him and the politics on the island. 2. The alien plants they’ll be fighting and a complication that creates a whole new kind of threat. 3. How it connects to previous X-Men works. To avoid spoilers, I won’t be talking about #3, but know if you’re an X-Men fan, there is a lot here to enjoy.
As far as this intro issue, Howard and Hickman do a good job establishing a few fundamental dynamics with X-Corp like Magic and Angel (which we saw in the preview) and Angel’s role as a leader. There’s a crucial scene midway through the book that puts a lot of weight on Angel, which helps clarify his importance on Krakoa. You’ll feel for Angel, who is written well throughout. Really, all the characters feel lived in and true to their nature in this book.
The second focus works thanks to the groundwork laid to make the alien plants an organized and believable crew. They aren’t mindless by any means, further helping convey a threat that shouldn’t be taken lightly. There’s another conflict at hand too, which creates an exciting twist on the enemy that we won’t likely see in the main event. This further gives the tie-in an excellent purpose to read on its own.
Matteo Buffagni’s pencils with Nolan Woodard’s colors have an assuredness that’s well done. Like a police procedural, the characters are rendered in a realistic and edgy way. The action, and enemies depicted in this issue, are drawn well in Buffangni’s style which reminds me of his work on Hunt For Wolverine: Weapon Lost #2. There is certainly a darker edge to the art that suits the horror aspect in the baddies.
Without getting into spoilers, I have to say I liked this issue quite a bit. It can read a little heavy on the dialogue side, but there are key scenes that set things up so the book can go HAM with the action in later issues.
The Empyre event is a smart one to coincide with the X-Men since Krakoa is a plant lifeform, and yet this issue builds on that. This issue proves in multiple ways, it’s not only worthy as a tie-in but as a standalone X-Men adventure in its own right. A properly sharpened X-Men tie-in series with a blend of X-Men history and action thriller underpinnings.