Marvel’s anticipated, and delayed event, Empyre draws nearer. Empyre: Fantastic Four is the prelude comic introducing the Fantastic Four into what’s to come. Much like its Avengers counterpart, the comic feels like a nice walk through the history of the key players and teases the upcoming event and its impact.
Stranded in space, the Fantastic Four are given a lift to a gambling planet where they learn of a gladiatorial combat that relives the Kree/Skrull War but the wording indicates the war is officially over. The galactic credit system has collapsed as well leading to a bartering system. It’s all tied together but the Fantastic Four must put the pieces of the puzzle together as well as figure out a way to pay for their ship repair to get home.
Written by Dan Slott, Empyre: Fantastic Four is a decent transition for the team into the event. You get a good sense of the history of the Kree/Skrull War as well as the Fantastic Four’s involvement with both. We’re also introduced to new concepts in Marvel’s cosmic landscape that fit right in and feel at home.
Slott mixes in some comedic elements and action within the pages keeping a nice pace throughout the issue. While it’s not quite as good as the Avengers lead in issue, it does a decent job overall of catching readers up and leaves them on a “what the hell is that?” cliffhanger, though without the dread like the Avengers issue.
Where things get a bit weird is the revelation of who’ battling in the arena. SPOILER: It’s two children who the Fantastic Four liberate from their oppressor. While this is overall a good thing, this, along with the Future Foundation, is making the team feel like they’re collecting wards quicker than Batman. They’re also as questionable when it comes to the kids’ safety. Still that detail provides some humorous and cute moments of interactions between the kids, the Human Torch, and the Thing.
The art by R.B. Silva and Sean Izaakse is solid work. Along with color by Marte Gracia and Marcio Menyz and lettering by Joe Caramagna, the art is really interesting with a lot of small details to tell the story. The art really plays well into the gambling world as we get a sense of the wonder and alien nature of it all but it also feels familiar. There’s a sense of excess without it being over the top and exploitation without it feeling too grimy. It feels like Vegas. Despite some of the weightier aspects of the story, the art helps keep it light too befitting the tone of the Fantastic Four.
While Empyre: Fantastic Four doesn’t quite have the excitement of Empyre: The Avengers, it does add in some more details about the current state of the cosmic Marvel Universe and how things are shifted. It’s a transition to get the team into the action without using up an issue of their main series. But, as is, this is a prelude issue that’s more interesting to read than a must get.
Story: Dan Slott Art: R.B. Silva, Sean Izaakse
Color: Marte Gracia, Marcio Menyz Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Story: 7.0 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Read