23rd Jul2020

‘Empyre #1: Directors Cut’ Review (Marvel Comics)

by Dean Fuller

Written by Al Ewing | Art by Valerio Schiti | Published by Marvel Comics

So we’ve had the foreplay of Empyre #0, along with a few hints and pointers in titles along the way, and Marvel’s Summer crossover event now stands before us in all its glory. Event it most certainly is, as to read it all you will need to pick up an eye-watering 50 plus titles. It’s almost as though Marvel want to flog you an Omnibus at the end of it all… I’ve said elsewhere that of late DC have been killing Marvel with their big events. Marvel has fallen flat a few times, whereas DC have been bringing new ideas to the table. At first glance, Empyre doesn’t look too promising, as it smacks a little of the huge Annihilation event a few years back, which they seem to want to emulate due to its huge success. It really was very good though, so there are worse things to look to. The Kree/ Skrull dynamic has also been fertile ground in the past, but can Al Ewing produce anything new this time round?

Let’s take a look.

A handy text page at the beginning brings us up to speed nicely. The Kree and Skrull Empires have been united under the former Young Avenger Hulkling, himself half Kree, half Skrull. I guess he brought balance to the Force. He wants to eliminate the plant like race The Cotati, currently living in the Blue Area of Earth’s Moon and led by the Celestial Messiah, son of former Avenger The Swordsman. You can see how this is going to get messy…So enter the Fantastic Four, who’ve flown smack dab into the middle of the Kree/ Skrull invasion fleet en route to Earth. Just what is Hulkling doing, they ask, leading such a force, with the Super-Skrull as his lieutenant too. With his ties to The Avengers, Reed wonders, are they involved somehow?

Turns out they are, but not in quite the way Reed thinks. The Avengers are currently in the Blue Area of the Moon, called there by Quoi the Celestial Messiah. The Cotati have been enemies of the Kree for millenia, and he knows they are on their way to wipe them out, this time with the Skrulls. A nice simple good guys vs. bad guys scenario. Or not. The fleet arrives, although with Reed and the Fantastic Four in tow. Turns out Hulkling took on the throne to end bloodshed, not cause it, and the Kree and Skrulls had already united before he accepted. He’s no bad guy, so why the invasion? Hulkling has been persuaded that the Garden, a part of the Blue Area, is a threat to the universe. Is he right? wrong? The Avengers say yes, and prepare to fight. The FF, not sure. Still, time for a throw down and that’s what we get, several pages of fighting.

Tony Stark, as we know, is not just about the brawn, he also brings the brains. He’s also seen Independence Day, as he uses Thor’s Hammer Mjolnir to transport a techno virus that shuts down the Kree/Skrull fleet. Job done. Bad guys beaten. Actually not so much. Turns out Quoi is not quite the nice plant guy he made himself out to be, and the Cotati both are far more powerful than everyone thought and also have their own agenda. Avengers. Then Empyre. Didn’t see that coming. If you buy the Directors Cut of the book you also get a load of bonus stuff, character designs, all the alternate covers, dialogue free coloured and uncoloured pencils, and Al Ewing’s script pages, fascinating in their own right, especially with some redacted bits in there. Nice extras.

There was something lovely and old school about this. Had the feel of a Bronze Age adventure, albeit with a modern widescreen art twist. Al Ewing’s script was spot on, some great scenes, nice plotting, great dialogue, and spinning a whole load of plots at the same time. Kept me on my toes working out who was doing what to whom, that’s for sure. The art and colours by Valerio Schiti and Marte Gracia respectively were spot on. Big, expansive panels, frequent two page spreads, and making sure you understood the scale of Ewing’s story. This was sci-fi epic ‘see it on a IMAX’ scale art. The story has obviously got a long way to go yet, but as starts go, this is pretty darn good. Marvel might pitch a successful Summer event yet.

The plants are taking over. Meat is murdered. Who’s to blame?

You can call him Al.

**** 4/5

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