Empyre comes to an end this week, and it has been an exciting summer event. Issue #1 dropped a huge surprise, issue #2 showed how deeply it was tied to history, issue #3 tied a lot of heroes into the narrative, issue #4 has huge heroic moments, issue #5 brings the love story full circle, and now it’s time to wrap it all up with issue #6. And wrap it up it does, in a surprisingly coherent way.
I have to give Al Ewing and Dan Slott props for making all the many subplots and pieces come together. The book opens with a good in-story recap to get us up to speed with the stakes and characters in play. Iron Man and Mr. Fantastic are figuring out what to do and how much time they have to do it. I’m not certain Tony Stark’s crisis of faith really worked in this event (maybe a canceled tie-in would have fixed that?), but there’s enough here to explain his behavior.
There are a lot of locations and characters trying to save the world, and each party has a part to play in the fight. In a curious way, most aren’t completely aware of what everyone else is up to, but the goals of each group make sense. It’s impressive how well the creative team has pulled this off.
Valerio Schiti’s art keeps it all moving along and making sense. That’s a huge feat, to move from three characters having a quiet moment to all-out war in an easy to follow way. The amount of art in this book, like the number of characters drawn and scene changes, might trump anything that came before it. This book could have easily fallen apart, but the art never confuses. A lot has to happen in this book for it to work, and it works to the very end.
The colors by Marte Gracia are exceptional, too. The number of effects is only rivaled by how many characters are drawn in this book. Form and depth are conveyed wonderfully throughout. A stunning scene takes place near the sun and the sun effects are so warm and realistic you’ll believe what you’re seeing.
The main conceit in this book is twofold: First, “Avengers Assemble” and the second, to show heroes rising up when there’s a call to action no matter the odds. Both work wonderfully. This is a Fantastic Four meets Avengers event, and if you pay close attention as to who says “Avengers Assemble,” you’ll see how that works. Much like in the fourth issue heroes get to rise up and show off their real power is courage. It’s the kind of rousing heroic moments you rarely get in action and adventure storytelling.
This isn’t quite the perfect finale, but it’s close. It feels a bit decompressed, juggling so much that it ends up being a bit watered down. I almost think a seventh issue would let it breathe better. It has to cut between so many scenes, so not every one works to full effect. I will say a scene with a trio of heroes is one of the best and works splendidly, but others can’t quite pull things off perfectly.
Perfect is a high bar though, and I found much of this works. I have to cry foul on the final page, which is revealed on a page turn right next to a full-page ad. The ad takes away from the heroic joy of the final moment, making it ring a bit false as if we’re seeing the final page as an ad itself.
Empyre #6 is considerably ambitious superhero storytelling that works. It’s impressive how many characters and situations are pulled together into this finale, and it’s satisfying when you understand how hard a feat that is to pull off. Overall, Empyre has earned its right to stand amongst some of the best Marvel events in history. Empyre is a spectacle in more ways than one.
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