The Empyre war has reached Earth and the heroes already have their backs against the wall. Plus, Hulkling has a weapon that can stop the war, but it’ll cost all of Earth. Kind of a big deal. Al Ewing, Dan Slott, and Valerio Schiti continue what I think is one of the better events for either the Big Two in a long time. In the third issue, the stakes are raised, enemy goals are established, and new complexities emerge.
Possibly my biggest gripe with this series has been its lack of understanding of what each party in the war wants and how the bad guys are attempting to win. It has held its hand very close to the vest so to speak, but they’ve finally at the very least shown a card or two this issue. The more important strokes help to reveal what’s at stake for Hulkling, Wakanda, and the Cotati, all of which are destined to take place, further messing with rational scientists like Tony Stark and Reed Richards. There are interesting complexities from top to bottom in this book, further creating dynamics across the board well worth reading.
This issue opens with Tony in distress over ever trusting the Cotati and reacting with rage. Mr. Fantastic, meanwhile, is trying to stay calm and work out a solution, but understands Tony’s anger. Other characters like Black Panther, Hulkling, and have key roles too. Slott and Ewing have done an exceptional job sprinkling the book with key players many different fans can gravitate to, which also adds importance to each scene and location.
Meanwhile, Invisible Woman is with Black Panther, and The Thing is off in Wakanda protecting the land as its location is the center point the Cotati need to do terrible things to the universe. Then you have Human Torch off in space with Hulkling. Sprinkling the Fantastic Four across the key locations helps create a sense of their importance on the event. Meanwhile, Avengers are everywhere and of course, their place also resides with the Cotati itself as Swordsman is the right hand of their Messiah.
This issue has plenty to dig into with twist reveals and shifting of resources. It’s very much a table setting issue though, so don’t expect a whole lot of turns in the battle or plot progression.
We do get one heck of a double-page splash by Schiti with Thing shouting his favorite catchphrase, a good cliffhanger that’s way more dramatic than most will give it credit for, and plenty of spot-on character acting throughout the book. From the top down, you can see why Schiti was given the reins of this title as he’s clearly fast enough to keep up and very good at the bombastic beats in storytelling. Paired with Marte Gracia, the book looks the part for fans of big events.
It’s also worth noting Joe Caramagna’s letters are some of the cleanest in the business. His lettering adds stability and confidence in every word spoken.
On the very first page, with a Dutch angle on Cotati attacking civilian humans, you can see the dynamic range. In the foreground a screaming plant thing cast in blue shadow, and in the background, the Eiffel Tower covered in roots and vines. It’s a page you could blow past, but if you give it a second you’ll see finer details in the chaotic battle in the middle ground and a wide range of story being told. And that’s just one page!
I’m a fan of fun, and this book has it in droves. While it took a while to get to the motivations and stakes, I have to respect how well the creators have built up the architecture of such a massive event. So often comic book events have one or two key players, but astoundingly, here there are many Marvel superheroes a part of the bigger story in some way. Empyre is big, loud, and brimming with characters to root for.