Empyre #2 Review

by Charles Martin on July 22, 2020

Empyre #2 Review
Story: Al Ewing & Dan Slott
Script: Al Ewing
Artist: Valerio Schiti
Colourist: Marte Gracia
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Publisher: Marvel Comics

By this point, the cat's out of the bag both inside and outside the comics: There isn't (or shouldn't be) any hero versus hero conflict in Empyre. This event doesn't feature two morally-grey sides, each with their own compelling points.

There're the Cotati and their messiah Quoi, who want to burn all animal life in the universe. And there's every other Marvel character, all of whom count as animals. Simple!

(It's a shame this event doesn't include the Guardians of the Galaxy, because "What about Groot?" is the "what if?" that most intrigues me.)

Anyway! Before Quoi disappears to allow the heroes to regroup (which is damned sporting of him, eh?), he treats Cap, Iron Man, and Thor to a lengthy lecture on his backstory and how honoured they should feel to receive his exceptional "the Avengers don't have to get killed" offer.

It's the last gasp of the Big Dumb Event Stupidity™ that sapped my enthusiasm for Empyre #1. Of course the Avengers' power trio isn't going to take an offer like that. And it's up to Thor to deliver their response. With a hammer.

Captain Marvel fills the rest of this issue's action quota by rushing to the Kree/Skrull command ship and linking up with Hulkling and the FF. Their struggle to purge the ship of Cotati plants is exciting, though the outcome is never in serious doubt.

It also leads up to a Big Moment for Carol, which amplifies her stake in this event and will/should have long-term repercussions for her character. (I had hoped, while reviewing Captain Marvel #17 last week (SPOILER LINK), that this would happen in that title. But no, it's here.)

Valerio Schiti delivers another impressive art performance. His bias for prioritizing characters over settings once again becomes an advantage. In the early pages, it opens up space for Quoi's flashbacks. Later on, the action on Hulkling's ship is scripted in line with the artist's strengths -- where the characters are isn't half as important as what they're doing, and Mr. Schiti is scrupulously clear about showing that.

Marte Gracia's colours are powerful throughout the issue, and I'm most impressed by the organizational role they play. They keep the visual flow clear. In the first part, it's by sticking with a single colour theme (orange) for flashbacks. Then, he uses strongly-contrasting colours for individual panels, which keeps the dynamic layouts from getting confusing. But the overall effect harmonizes nicely, and the vibrant pages never suffer from colour clash.

Al Ewing's script strikes a sound balance between cosmic action and apt characterization. The full scope of the upcoming war is clearly conveyed, but there's room for a lot of good, personal reactions to it, too. Mr. Ewing's take on Captain Marvel lines up pretty well with her solo -- but spare a little appreciation for the contrition he puts into Tony Stark's mouth. Iron Man got bamboozled but good in the run-up to this event, and he's rightly embarrassed about it.

Empyre #2 wraps up the introduction to the event and buries the last hints of hero-vs-hero conflict. As far as I'm concerned, that's entirely a good thing. With the battle lines drawn along more rational and less contrived lines, readers are free to stop and smell the death blossoms (i.e. quality storytelling), as it were.

Our Score:


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Charles Martin's picture
Who'll take my bet that That Thing That Happens with Swordsman and She-Hulk in this issue is an important Chekhov's Gun? Anybody? No?