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Celebrate the Union of Two Marvel Heroes in Empyre: Avengers Aftermath #1

In the aftermath of the cosmic conflict known as Empyre, heroes will gather to celebrate the marriage of two of Marvel’s most beloved Avengers. Revealed at the end of Empyre #4, Teddy Altman, the Kree/Skrull hybrid Hulkling, and his longtime boyfriend Billy Kaplan, the powerful magic-wielding Wiccan, were married just before Hulkling took to the stars to fulfill his destiny of uniting the Kree and Skrull empires against the universal threat of the Cotati.

With plenty of twists and turns still to come in this earth-shattering epic, be there when the dust settles to celebrate this joyous union when Empyre: Avengers Aftermath #1 hits stands in September from writer Al Ewing, artist Valerio Schiti, and a cover by Jim Cheung.

Empyre: Avengers Aftermath #1

Preview: Empyre #5 (of 6)

Empyre #5 (of 6)

(W) Al Ewing, Dan Slott (A) Valerio Schiti (CA) Jim Cheung
Rated T+
In Shops: Aug 12, 2020
SRP: $4.99

• Love and war – in the midst of cosmic cataclysm!
• One fan-favorite Marvel hero reveals their secret – as another faces the ultimate showdown with a monstrous foe!
• Meanwhile, an outer-space jailbreak leads to a trial by combat you’ll have to see to believe…
• …but is it all too late to save Earth from two world-ending threats at once?

Empyre #5 (of 6)

Empyre #4 Gets a Second Printing

The war between the Kree/Skrull alliance and the vengeful Cotati escalated greatly in Empyre #4, but fans were delighted to see that amidst the conflict, love prevailed! Yesterday’s issue ended with a shocking twist when it was revealed that Hulkling and Wiccan married prior to the start of the intergalactic war. This landmark issue has already sold out, and Marvel has announced that it will be returning to comic shops for a second printing!

The pulse-pounding cosmic epic continues next week in Empyre #5, AND Hulkling and Wiccan’s marriage will be celebrated Marvel style in September’s Empyre: Avengers Aftermath #1. With second printings of Empyre #1-3 now available, don’t miss your chance to witness history in the making as the cosmic landscape of the Marvel Universe is reshaped forever! Stay tuned for more news about Empyre, including the reveal of the Empyre #4 second printing variant cover!

Empyre #4 features a story by Al Ewing and Dan Slott with art by Valerio Schiti.

Empyre #4

Review: Empyre #4

Empyre #4

Despite a rough first issue, Empyre has turned into one of the most intriguing events from Marvel in some time. Empyre #4 cements that with a further exploration of horrors of war and some reveals that’ll shock and excite.

Al Ewing and Dan Slott have been crafting the story with Ewing handling scripts and the team has really nailed this event. Despite its rather obscure origins, the series has really just used Marvel’s cosmic side of its universe to explore interesting philosophical topics and shake things up.

Things aren’t going all that great on the battlefront which puts Emperor Hulkling in an awkward decision-making spot. Does he sacrifice Earth and its 8 billion residents to save trillions? The issue hints at an answer and raises questions if this is really the Hulkling we know. The question feels a little groan-inducing with Secret Invasion within memory and the idea of “evil replacements” feeling a bit soap opera for an event that has raised some really interesting questions.

That questioning of Hulkling leads to so much though. It’s Ewing and Slott’s focus on the characters in the main story instead of the overall battle that makes the main series stand out and keep getting better. That focus extends to Tony who is having a crisis of confidence which might feel sudden but makes sense concerning his experiences in the first issue. The confident man has been knocked down quite a few pegs leaving himself questioning his decisions and abilities. This isn’t a series of confident brash characters saving the day but one of tough decisions and moments of doubt.

Slott and Ewing also use the issue for some major revelations that will have readers buzzing. Not only is a marriage revealed but another has been revealed to have died on the moon which immediately sets up a new series spinning out of Empyre when it’s over. Both are the shocking highlights within an issue full of contemplative moments and hard decisions.

Valerio Schiti’s art feels like it has gotten to be consistent from the inconsistent first issue. Characters have gotten their design down and there’s a focus on scenes using panels instead of splash pages delivering a big picture. A battle in Wakanda is depicted in chaotic panels instead of a two-page spread which would have worked. Schiti is joined by Marte Gracia and lettering by Joe Caramagna. The trio realize this is a character driven drama as a opposed to a summer visual blockbuster. It doesn’t mean there’s not moments to shine. The lack of splash pages works as a group of heroes confronts the Cotati leader in hopes of talking sense into him which morphs into a big reveal and action sequence.

Empyre #4 continues to improve the series which has decided to shift the big visuals to other series and instead, so far, focus more on the individual impacts of war and the difficult decisions that have to be made. There’s been twists and turns as things have become more complicated. What began as a stereotypical eye-roll of an event has evolved into something far more deep.

Story: Al Ewing, Dan Slott Script: Al Ewing Art: Valerio Schiti
Color: Marte Gracia Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Story: 8.10 Art: 7.75 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation:
Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: Empyre #3

Empyre #3

I was down on the debut issue of Empyre. The second issue was a large improvement on the first. Empyre #3 continues that trajectory with a solid story that focuses on the ongoing battle as well as the weight of wearing a crown and the political machinations that come with an empire.

Writer Al Ewing and Dan Slott deliver an issue with a couple of focuses. It feels like an attempt to take a step back a bit and give the wider picture of what’s going on, delivering details of tactics and glimpses of the various fronts.

The Cotati are waging war on multiple fronts on Earth using the planet against its inhabitants. Those battles though are feints for their true mission which relies on Wakanda. The focus on Wakanda, and Black Panther, continues to prop up the character in the Marvel comic Universe befitting his popularity outside of comics. It also tactically makes sense as far as the story. The downside is there are moments that feel directly ripped from Avengers: Infinity War and it’s hard to not be pulled out and distracted due to that.

Ewing and Slott’s story stands out when it comes to the cost of war. There’s a lot of debate around what individuals are willing to sacrifice. Is killing a billion people to save a trillion a worthy trade off? Are the roles of soldiers to sacrifice themselves if they need to? Or, is the goal to minimize casualties while maximizing victories? It’s an interesting debate and makes the issue, and event, stand out from the usual blockbuster battles that result in god knows how many deaths and how much destruction.

Empyre #3 includes a focus on Tony Stark who’s been shaken since the first issue. The above about acceptable losses is about the cost of war, there’s still a focus on the individuals impacts. Stark is having issues focusing on solutions and his time with Reed Richards shows a man no longer cocky and arrogant but one who’s faith in himself has been rocked. Just a few panels adds so much depth to the character.

Valerio Schiti‘s art has grown on me since the first issue. Along with colorist Marte Gracia and letterer Joe Caramagna the art is much tighter than the debut. Issues with individual characters are gone and instead, it feels like there’s more of a focus on groups but fewer characters allowing some tighter detail. Mr. Fantastic’s look is night and day compared to the first issue. The series continues to lack to truly sweeping visuals you’d expect from an event like that instead focusing things on important panels or characters. This isn’t an event overshadowed by two-page spreads.

Empyre #3 is an issue that adds the much-needed depth to the series. It has gone from just a summer popcorn event to one with some brains behind it. There’s some philosophical debates within and political machinations throughout. It also delivers twists and turns because by the end of the issue, it’s clear there’s a lot more to come.

Story: Al Ewing, Dan Slott Script: Al Ewing Art: Valerio Schiti
Color: Marte Gracia Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Preview: Empyre #3 (of 6)

Empyre #3 (of 6)

(W) Al Ewing, Dan Slott (A) Valerio Schiti (CA) Jim Cheung
Rated T+
In Shops: Jul 29, 2020
SRP: $4.99

• The tag-team action comes home!
• Wakanda is the battleground – as the Avengers and the FF unite to prevent a Vibranium-powered threat to all life as we know it!
• A long-lost Avenger returns to active duty – but will that be enough to turn the tide?
• And in space, interstellar intrigue threatens the fragile Kree/Skrull alliance…and the repercussions might just doom planet Earth!

Empyre #3 (of 6)

Review: Empyre #2

Empyre #2

I wasn’t a big fan of Empyre #1. It felt like a comic that could have been resolved, a conflict avoided, with just a sentence or two. Empyre #2 is a big improvement on that first issue as the damage is done and the Avengers, Kree, and Skrulls must fight back the initial onslaught.

The Cotati have played their hand and in one move they have destroyed the Kree/Skrull fleet and captured some of the Avengers. It’s a hell of a move and this issue the amount of devastation is clear. Al Ewing and Dan Slott use this issue to give the reader a wider scope that makes the Cotati feel like a real threat. They also allow the heroes to do what they do best, be heroes.

The issues of the debut issue are gone in Empyre #2. Instead those groan worthy moments give way to interactions that make sense. The Avengers have messed up and are on a recovery mission. But, why should the Kree and Skrulls trust them? Instead of continuing a needless fight, they allow Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to prove they have realized their mistakes. The issues where a simple sentence would have changed everything is gone. The trope of the “needless fight” is thrown to the side for actions that make much more sense.

The recovery is actually kind of cool. There’s some solid action and moments where you really do feel like it’s a recovery and not just a needless fight. You really do get a sense the Avengers know they’ve messed up. The issue also drops a lot of hints as to how the X-Men will come into play in this event with some not so subtle hints about Krakoa. This continues a bit of the set up and if this were released with the first issue as an oversized start, it’d feel like a much better beginning.

Part of what helps is Valerio Schiti’s art. Gone are the off panels of Mr. Fantastic. Instead we get some muted but cool moments and wide views of the destruction. Marte Gracia’s colors are key mixing the coldness of technology and space with a warmth of the organic. But, the color is important as that organic also has a sense of foreboding evil about it. Joe Caramagna’s lettering also helps emphasize some point adding to the art. What’s interesting is the lack of use of splash pages to deliver awe inducing visuals. Instead, there is a greater emphasis on interesting perspectives and panels on the page.

Empyre #2 is much improved over the first. It features intelligent aftermath from the attack and also a good explanation of the Cotati’s planning of it all. The issue is still a lot of set up and organizing as the forces of good come together but it feels like it’s a more focused narrative that avoids moments we’ve seen over and over.

Story: Al Ewing, Dan Slott Script: Al Ewing Art: Valerio Schiti
Color: Marte Gracia Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Story: 8.05 Art: 8.15 Overall: Recommendation: Buy


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Preview: Empyre #2

Empyre #2

(W) Al Ewing, Dan Slott (A) Valerio Schiti (CA) Jim Cheung
Rated T+
In Shops: Jul 22, 2020
SRP: $4.99

• Three Avengers are trapped on the moon as war breaks out on Earth – and an ancient enemy reveals a scheme decades in the making!
• Meanwhile, the Fantastic Four fight against a creeping horror that might destroy them all – starting with the Thing!
• Captain Marvel is their last, best hope… But if Carol Danvers survives, what will she become?

Empyre #2

Review: Empyre #1

Empyre #1

After a lot of delays and build-up, the real kick-off to Marvel’s big 2020 event, Empyre is here! Empyre #1 kicks off the event that will run through Marvel’s series this summer. And the issue is just filled with predictable twists and the usual plot issues that lead to moments like this. For those who haven’t been paying attention, the Skrull and Kree empires have unified under one leader. Their first campaign is to wipe out an alien race called the Cotati who they have a history with.

While the concept on paper sounds interesting, disparate groups uniting to commit genocide, the story by the end is so much different. And, what’s in between that beginning and end is just frustratingly bad in both storytelling and art.

The issues with the story is the conflict itself. The Avengers have been summoned to the moon by the Cotati while the Fantastic Four have stumbled upon the Kree/Skrull fleet. Hulkling, of the Young Avengers, is now in charge of the Kree/Skrull empire. The Avengers and Fantastic Four think he’s flexing his muscles and shedding blood to cement his rule. When in reality, it’s something else. The entire battle that explodes would easily have been avoided if Hulkling just explained why they planned on wiping out the Cotati. But, in superhero story shorthand, that can’t happen and the misunderstanding results in an epic battle. It’s frustrating to read knowing that the whole misunderstanding would be avoided if just a sentence or two would have been spoken. But, that’s too easy and would be too adult for a comic series it feels like. Diplomacy isn’t as exciting as giant battles.

But, it’s not just the conflict of the comic that’s frustrating. Valerio Schiti‘s art too is just odd at times. The Fantastic Four kick off the issue and Schiti’s depiction of Mr. Fantastic is so beyond off. Numerous characters feel like they are getting the short end of the visual depictions while other aspects look great. It’s an inconsistency that runs throughout the issue and is too noticeable to not be frustrating. And that frustration is a shame as there are some truly amazing moments in the comic. There are memorable moments without memorable visuals.

Schiti does have a difficult task of packing a lot into the panels and having a lot of variation of what’s on the page but there’s some key characters that need to be gotten down in style and they fall short. Then there’s the Cotati themselves whose imagery towards the end feels a little off and adds some uncomfortable, and odd, layers to the storytelling. By evoking Native American imagery, the design of the Cotati at the end creates even further complications to the story. The colors by Marte Gracia and lettering by Joe Caramagna though are solid throughout the issue.

Empyre‘s lead up issues generally have been really solid setting up the situation and catching readers up. Empyre #1 though feels like a letdown in a very basic and silly plot and visuals that aren’t up to snuff. Marvel’s cosmic side of things have been getting exciting but Empyre #1 feels like it’s a step back from all the gains that have been made in recent years.

Story: Al Ewing, Dan Slott Script: Al Ewing Art: Valerio Schiti
Color: Marte Gracia Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Story: 6.0 Art: 6.5 Overall: 6.0 Recommendation: Pass


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