If you’re like me, you thought the “Lord of Empyre” Hulkling was the bad guy in the Empyre event. Marvel clearly wanted us to think so, as he sat on his throne all morose and looking to kill Earth. Surprise, he’s a good guy and has always been one! Empyre #1 proved Hulkling is in a tough spot, sure, but he’ll never hurt his friends or even kill in the name of his people. Anthony Oliveira, Chip Zdarsky, and Manuel Garcia aim to shed more light on Hulkling and how he got into the throne in Lords of Empyre: Emperor Hulkling.
This issue does a great job showing and not telling as far as Teddy aka Hulkling’s pure of heart nature as well as steadfast leadership. It also fills in the blanks for anyone who doesn’t know his tragic backstory and how he got onto that spaceship in Empyre. It ties in well with Incoming!, checking a lot of boxes and helping to explain details that might have nagged you when reading the main event. So all told, these are good reasons for why this book succeeds as a tie-in to the main event.
This is also a good love story. Wiccan plays a big part in the issue and there are some very sweet scenes with the two characters. Oliveira described Zdarsky’s contribution to the book as a mentor and like the “project’s comic-dad” in our Empyre State of Mynd column. That explains why it feels every bit Oliveira’s work. One reason why the love story works is thanks to how the plotting gives Hulkling time alone away from Wiccan. I’ll hold off any details to avoid spoilers, but the absence of a lover can help convey the longing and love between two characters. That works here.
Art by Manuel Garcia with inks by Cam Smith and colors by Triona Farrell come together wonderfully throughout. Epic moments, like Galactus tearing down buildings (see below), help add weight to the epic saga surrounding Hulkling’s life. Really, all the full-page splashes add up to event-caliber visuals. Hulkling’s powers also look great throughout and more importantly Teddy’s humanity is never lost. Moments of fear, doubt, and worry come through well.
This book goes a long way in showing how much Teddy has to give up while this war rages on. The main event hasn’t done enough to show this, which makes this book a must-read if you’re at all invested in the character.
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