Writers: Al Ewing & Dan Slott
Artist: Valerio Schiti
Colors: Marte Gracia
Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Earth is once again the center for intergalactic strife. After a millennium of warfare, the Kree and Skrulls have made an uneasy peace under the leadership of Emperor Dorrek VIII, aka the Young Avenger Hulkling, whose the son of the Kree hero Captain Marvel and the Skrull princess Anelle. The reason for this uneasy alliance is the threat of the Cotati, a plant based race that threatens both the Skrull and the Kree over a long lingering feud going back thousands of years. It’s the Cotati who have brought this conflict to earth. It’s the Cotati that threatens every life on earth. It’s the Cotati that are forcing the Kree/Skrull alliance to contemplate using the Pyre, a device that would detonate the Sun and in turn destroy earth and the entire Cotati race as well as all life in our solar system. Caught in the middle of this conflict are earths heroes, the combined forces of the Avengers and the Fantastic Four. But will these heroes be enough to save the earth?
Empyre #4 is the continuation of the Marvel’s latest event, an event they are now releasing in a weekly format due to its initial delay due to the publishing shut down because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Getting this event at such a rapid pace probably helps. Even though I am enjoying Empyre it’s not the deepest of events and while I find both Al Ewing and Dan Slott’s to be excellent writers their work on Empyre feels like it is just different groups of heroes fighting in various locales with call backs to classic Avengers stories and scenes reminiscent of the recent Avengers movies. Yet those groupings of heroes have been a fun part of the event and the large fight scenes have been a joy to behold. I’ve especially enjoyed Captain Marvel and the Human Torch who have been left to council Hulkling along with the Super Skrull and the Kree delegation. Hulking has approved the use of the Pyre, against Captain Marvel and the Human Torch’s wishes, forcing them to flee the battle cruiser and right into the hands of a friendly sorcerer deeply connected to Hulkling. Seeing Tony Stark and Reed Richards struggle with a scientific remedy for the entire conflict has been entertaining but Black Panther and his Avengers making a stand against the Cotati on the vibramium enriched fields of Wakanda has been the highlight so far. Even though Empyre hasn’t been the deepest of events it does hit a lot of fun beats and its action is modern but also drenched in the Silver Age history of the Kree-Skrull-Cotati. Centering this event around the legacy of Mantis and the Cotati Swordsman reminds me of the Steve Englehart era of the Avengers, which is one of the finest runs on that title. Empyre #4 also included several reveals that were fun and could have lasting impact as the Marvel universe comes out of Empyre.
Al Ewing and Dan Slott seem to be having fun with Empyre and they are really dipping their fingers into the Silver Age cosmic past. It’s great to see this collection of alien races and characters together in a new dynamic, especially the Kree-Skrull alliance, which seems doomed from the beginning. The Cotati feel like a forgotten aspect of the history of Kree that only pops up from time to time but is being used perfectly here, especially as their plant-based life draws connections to the current state of the X-Men and their new society on Krakoa. Valerio Schiti’s art looks fantastic as his style is reminiscent of Marvel’s other ‘new’ top artists in Pepe Larraz and RB Silva. Marte Gracia’s colors pop off the page and really highlight the mood, whether it’s the depths of space, the shadows of a lab in the belly of a dead Celestial, or the fields of Wakanda. We may have needed to wait a while to get to it but Empyre is definitely delivering and fun and interesting story with beautiful artwork.
Verdict: Empyre might not be the deepest of Marvel events but it is a fun read dipped in classic stories but with a modern take and interesting ideas. Empyre #4 continues Marvel’s latest event and continues to be a fun and exciting ride.