Marvel’s Empyre event is behind us, and while it satisfied my need for a blockbuster crossover event, it ultimately felt limited in its narrative promises. That isn’t to say the arc wasn’t worth reading; in fact, if you were looking for some good old fashioned superhero action, it satisfied on all fronts. Some of the industry’s best talents did some excellent work bringing the cosmic battle between the Cotati, Kree and Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to life, providing excellent art that will keep folks coming back to the series in years to come.
This undeniably adheres to the Empyre: Captain America and the Avengers trade paperback, collecting both books’ tie-in runs from last year. These types of minis seem like difficult books to craft; on one hand, you get to play with some of the most iconic heroes in the Marvel Universe, teaming them up with a slew of supporting characters. Both writers (Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Jim Zub), act like kids in a candy store, finding entertaining and ridiculous ways to get characters like Scarlet Witch, Black Knight, Ka-Zar and Man-Thing integrated into the larger Empyre story. On the other hand, the runs collected here stand entirely on their own, letting the main miniseries carry the plot forward. This book, like many of its kind, is expendable and ultimately not necessary reading to grasp the larger story.
That should not be seen as a reason to avoid the book. In fact, this was one of my favorite tie-ins to Empyre, as the writers embraced the frivolousness of the endeavor by gleefully throwing some fan-favorite characters into the mix. Once you appreciate that the main story will not be told in your book, you might as well have some fun with the characters and premise, turning the extra-terrestrial action up to 11 and delivering on the fan-service.
With this being a fun, superhero romp, the art is given center stage and it does not disappoint. The Captain America issues are done by Ariel Olivetti with colors by Rachelle Rosenberg, serving the patriot character well in his battle against a giant plant monster. The work created by Carlos Magno and colorist Espen Grundetjern for The Avengers stands as some of my favorite art done for the Empyre run. The characters are rendered big, bold and expressive with vibrant, psychedelic colors to complement the endless action packed into the pages. The teams give the roaming dinosaurs and plant monsters so much vitality, delivering a superb series of panels. I will definitely be checking out their work in the future.
Do you need to pick up this trade to understand the Empyre run? Definitely not. But it is still worth your time. Empyre was good old fashioned superhero crossover action, and this trade delivers that in spades. It’s a collection of issues that requires very little background knowledge of the extended Marvel Universe to enjoy and gives the reader some outstanding art and action along the way.