It’s time to put Empyre to bed. Empyre #6 was the last issue, but in many ways Empyre: Aftermath Avengers #1 is the final word for the event. It serves as an epilogue, closing out subplots while revealing a true end to Empyre you won’t see coming. It’s a great way to wrap up the series, since the event started with an Avengers one-shot and Fantastic Four one-shot and can be read in tandem with Empyre: Fallout Fantastic Four #1, which also wraps things up. So in that regard, this is a great read for those who loved and read the entire series, but for some, they may feel lost.
This is a meaty book told across three basic scenes. It opens with Hulkling coming face to face with his grandmother and coming to terms with her treachery. Like any good story, Al Ewing mostly closes the door on this story element, but also keeps it open just a crack. Future stories await us. That’s a running theme throughout the book, and it’s a big reason why it feels important to read. The second scene focuses on the celebration of the war’s end. Then in the third scene more is wrapped up in regards to Hulkling’s place as king, which leads into a cliffhanger that’ll have many talking for weeks.
This book has the same level of quality as the event itself, but isn’t a war-torn tale so much as it is more relaxed and taking time to reflect on where we are. That makes it read like the perfect epilogue and one that should allow folks to decompress from this event.
That level of quality is high due to Valerio Schiti’s art, which continues to be some of his best work to date. Backed up by color artist Marte Gracia, these creators are firing on all cylinders which is most apparent in comics when there aren’t splashy space ships and explosions which we see here. Instead, we get quiet moments speaking in the shadows, big open spaces of a party, and very good character acting throughout.
I simply love how Gracia splashes color into the space hanging outside the windows in this book. It creates a sense of awe, but also a sense of celebration one might liken to fireworks. Flashback scenes have a dirty glow distinguishing them from the present and establishing a sense of foul play that works well in the scene.
One downside of this book is the plotting doesn’t allow it to flow as nicely as one might want. Being basically three scenes and a cliffhanger, the book jumps from one scene to the next with mini jump-cuts to surprise. There is also a confrontation that seems sudden inserted here to get the ball going with a future plot. Due to the nature of a book like this, it isn’t surprising, but it does make the read slightly jarring at times.
Empyre: Aftermath Avengers #1 is the perfect coda to this summer’s Marvel Comics event. It closes the door on major plot points but keeps it cracked just enough to get your imagination going with where we go from here. This book looks as good as the event itself, which is actually uncommon for many events in Marvel’s history, but somehow Schiti and Gracia keep the quality level up to a high standard. If you read Empyre and enjoyed it, you must read this. And if you want to keep tabs on where Marvel Comics goes from here, you guessed it, you gotta read this.