Marvel’s latest big blockbuster event is finally here in the form of Empyre. This new big event will be pitting the new alliance of the Kree and Skrull against the Avengers and Fantastic Four. This unprecedent alliance between the Kree and Skrull was brought about by the Hulkling, a former Young Avenger and Kree/Skrull hybrid, as the new emperor. Beyond this initial premise I’m coming in blind to what Empyre is about, with the return of the Kree and Skrull Empires to prominence in the Marvel Universe being what is driving my interest in reading this series. I want to see what plans Marvel has in reestablishing the greater cosmic part of their universe as the Kree and Skrull have always played a big role in that. Let’s find out how it all begins with Empyre #1.
Story Writers: Al Ewing and Dan Slott
Script Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Valerio Schiti
Colorist: Marte Gracia
Story Rating: 3 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 4.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: While on their way back to Earth after their latest mission, which included rescuing a young Kree named Jo-Veen and Skrull named N’Kalla from a fighting arena, the Fantastic Four run into the Kree-Skrull alliance armada.
Reed Richards immediately orders his son, Franklin Richards, to take Jo-Veen and N’Kalla to the escape shuttle and leave to a safe area. Franklin wants to help his family in fighting the Kree-Skrull alliance, believing that this is what he should use his remaining power for. Reed says that Franklin needs to be the one to protect the young Jo-Veen and N’Kalla along with his sister. Franklin relents and goes with Valeria to take Jo-Veen and N’Kalla to safe spot.
With the kids gone Invisible Woman uses her powers to cloak the Fantastic Four’s ship so they can sneak onto the main ship without being detected.
As the Fantastic Four enter the main ship they are surprised to find Hulkling sitting on a thrown. Kl’rt, using his own power of invisibility, detects Invisible Woman’s using her powers and de-cloaks the Fantastic Four’s ship.
On the Blue Area of Earth’s Moon the Avengers meet up with Swordsman, who leads them to where Quoi, the leader of the Cotati, is located. Quoi thanks the Avengers for coming to help the Cotati in their time of need as the Kree-Skrull alliance is looking to destroy them. As a reward for their help Quoi offers a spot for the Avengers on the Blue Area of Earth’s Moon and helps She-Hulk gain control of her powers.
Iron Man detects the Kree-Skrull armada approaching and opens up a communication channel to the fleet. Captain Marvel tells the Kree-Skrull armada that the Cotati are under the Avengers protection as they are part of Earth’s jurisdiction.
Mr. Fantastic hears all this and is surprised the Avengers are with the Cotati. Iron Man wonders why the Fantastic Four are with Hulkling and the Kree-Skrull armada. Given what he is seeing Mr. Fantastic tries to piece everything together and concludes that Hulkling is being used as a figurehead by the Skrull leadership.
Hulkling defends himself by saying he was the one who was able to end the Kree-Skrull war with the sword he wields and that the reason they are going after the Cotati is because that race is a threat to the entire galaxy. Iron Man tells Hulkling he is just being used by the Skrull to make him believe that he is the emperor when all he really is just a puppet. Hearing this Hulkling becomes unsure of himself.
Iron Man tells the Avengers on the Quinjet to deploy with Ghost Rider using his powers to transform the jet into the Ghost Quinjet.
Seeing the Avengers heading towards the armada for an attack Hulkling tells the Kl’rt and Captain Glory to get ready to defend the armada. Invisible Woman tries to stop the Kl’rt and Captain Glory from deploying but is tricked by Mur-G’nn illusion powers, who created fakes while Kl’rt and Captain Glory already left the ship.
Outside Captain Glory tackles the Ghost Quinjet at full speed and starts ripping it apart. The Avengers all get their space gear on immediately and head out to take on Kl’rt and Captain Glory. Captain Marvel goes to fight Captain Glory one-on-one while Black Panther, She-Hulk and Swordsman deal with Kl’rt.
Back on the Blue Area of the Moon, Iron Man finishes fitting a special device on Thor’s hammer. Thor then throws Mjolnir as far as he can.
Mjolnir is able to go through all of the fighting and makes it to the Kree-Skrull alliance’s main ship. Hulkling is able to stop Mjolnir with his sword. Iron Man’s device that’s on Mjolnir then activates and sends a virus to the entire Kree-Skrull armada, shutting all the ships down.
With this done Quoi takes this as an opportunity to declare that the Cotati will now be the Avengers and will be taking over the universe while punishing all those who wronged them. Quoi then activates the large bloom at the center of the Blue Area of the Moon to create countless vines and attack the Kree-Skrull armada, including the Fantastic Four, who are on Hulkling’s main ship. Quoi then declares that the Cotati’s new Empyre will begin now. End of issue.
The Good: Al Ewing and Dan Slott do their best to not waste time and get right into the heart of the conflict with Empyre #1. Unfortunately they bite off more than they can chew with the start of Empyre as there are several missing pieces to this opening chapter. In the process this series quickly becomes something that will not attract new or casual Marvel readers and will only be for fans of both the current Avengers and Fantastic Four comics.
The one thing I will give Ewing and Slott credit is not wasting time getting right into the conflict between the new Kree-Skrull alliance and Cotati. We are thrown right in the middle of this conflict and see how both sides can be viewed as the antagonists while the Avengers and Fantastic Four are stuck in the middle as the main protagonists. This all allows the stakes to be made clear as we do get a good idea of how the results of Empyre can have an major impact on the entire Marvel Universe rather than just Earth like is normal for Marvel events.
Empyre #1 also sets up multiple angles for Ewing and Slott to continue to explore. As we see with how things end in this issue, things will only get more complicated for the Avengers and Fantastic Four before they can find a solution in how to save Earth. Keeping both our heroes and readers guessing will help drive interest for this series.
Valerio Schiti got the job done when it came to the artwork for Empyre #1. Schiti’s artwork was at its best when he drew all of the action and characters using their powers. Once things broke down to the usual superhero fighting is when Empyre #1 came across as a big event that was underway. He made all the characters involved from the Avengers, Fantastic Four, Kree, Skrull and Cotati look like a big deal.
The Bad: As someone who is not reading the current Avengers and Fantastic Four comic books Empyre #1 did not do much to become invested in what is going on. The entire time I was reading Empyre #1 I felt like an outsider who was not very welcomed into this new big event. Even as I do read many other Marvel comic books that involved a number of the characters involved there was nothing here that drew my interest. I would not be surprised if that is the case for most casual or new Marvel readers who are just looking to dive into a fun big event comic book.
The reason for not feeling welcomed with Empyre #1 is that Ewing and Slott throw us right into a story that came across as already half-way into its development. Save for some throwaway line there was no point that Ewing or Slott slowed things down to catch readers up on why the Avengers and Fantastic Four are in the spot they are in when Empyre #1 begins. We are just thrown into the adventure with it being expect from Ewing, Slott and Marvel that we know exactly what and why everything that takes place is happening.
Which makes the constant inner monologue from Iron Man and Mr. Fantastic be even more problematic. All the inner monologue these two characters are given is supposed to inform readers of what is going on. Instead Iron Man and Mr. Fantastic’s inner monologue quickly grows boring and distracting as they end up dominating many scenes. You get to a point that you wish that Ewing and Slott trusted Schiti to tell the story with his artwork rather than continuously bombarded by inner monologue.
An example of this is towards the end of Empyre #1 when Quoi and the Cotati turn on the Avengers and Fantastic Four to declare their goal for universal domination. This should’ve been a major turning point that launches the rest of Empyre forward. But instead of that happening Ewing and Slott continue to give us more Iron Man inner monologue to try to get over the shock of this turn. When in fact that inner monologue was needed. All that was need was seeing the Avengers and Fantastic shock and horror while Quoi made his grand speech. Its an instance where you do want writers of a comic book to place the full trust on the artist to get over the impact of this major scene. That just does not happen and it makes the ending of Empyre #1 less effective.
That is especially problematic when it comes to getting over the Kree-Skrull alliance and the fact that Hulkling is their new emperor. At no point in Empyre #1 do Ewing and Slott convince the reader why this alliance happened and that Hulkling deserves the elevated spot he gets. Anytime Hulkling is on screen he comes across as a kid over his head who was handed everything. Maybe that was Ewing and Slott’s intention but all it ends up doing is making Hulkling look like a weaker character.
Even if Ewing and Slott wanted to make Hulkling look like he was over his head as emperor there should’ve been a moment thrown in to show the confidence the character has. Even when Hulkling does stop Thor’s hammer that impressive feat is quickly undone as it was shown that it was part of Iron Man’s plot to infect the Kree-Skrull armada with a virus. So the cool thing that Hulkling is shown to do is just another instance where he gets punked out by our heroes.
It was also odd that at no point do the Kree or Skrull try to back up Hulkling when he is being called out by Iron Man and Mr. Fantastic. Instead Ewing and Slott just don’t even try to make it look like the Kree and Skrull are trying to have Hulkling’s back. Because at the end of the day developments like this are only as strong as the person placed in the leadership position. But since Hulkling looks so weak as a leader throughout Empyre #1 the entire Kree-Skrull alliance is given an appearance of fragility.
All of these problems made the entire turn by the Cotati even less exciting. Given that the Cotati were already minor characters in the Marvel Universe this issue needed to make them look as strong as possible. But that just is not the case because even with how Quoi took down the main vessel of the Kree-Skrull alliance it was only done after the Avengers defeated Hulkling’s crew. Nothing about this act makes the Cotati look like they can defeat the Avengers, Fantastic Four, and all of the other Marvel Universe heroes. Ewing and Slott will need to put in more development to get over Cotati as characters deserving of the spotlight they are being given in Empyre.
Overall: Empyre #1 was all noise and not much substance. Things definitely take place in this opening issue but none of it is as intriguing as it should be with a lot of poor character development. Add in the fact that Empyre #1 is not at all welcoming to new or casual Marvel readers and you have a start of a big event that just drops the ball. Empyre #1 is definitely only for hardcore Marvel fans who feel like they need to have a complete Avengers and Fantastic Four run. Hopefully the second issue makes vast improvements over what we got with Empyre #1.
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