Creating a crossover in the medium of comics can be tough, and it can be even tougher making it succeed when it comes to telling an actual story, but I'm happy to say that Empyre #1 has successfully sown the seeds for Marvel's next great crossover under the pens of writer Al Ewing and artist Valereo Schiti. The Avengers and the Fantastic Four join forces against a union that, for the first time ever, sees the Kree and the Skrull joining forces to eliminate a group of flora living on the moon; Empyre does a great job in setting the stage!
Following the story of Empyre #0: Avengers, the first issue of this developing saga suffers from the same issues as its previous entry but to a lesser degree. Ewing sets the stage fantastically here and, in doing so, throws you for a loop with the premiere issue's final page—one that turns the tables on just what exactly "Empyre" is all about. One of the biggest successful Marvel crossovers that I like to use as a standard for what a summer blockbuster can be is Jonathan Hickman's Infinity, a universe spanning maxi-series that saw the heroes of the world uniting against a celestial threat and Empyre's similarities to that are a notable addition here.
When weaving a crossover, there's obviously going to be many different moving pieces to consider and, luckily, Ewing is able to take dozens of characters and give almost all of them at least one unique moment to shine. From Ghost Rider turning a Quinjet into an extension of his spirit of vengeance to She-Hulk reclaiming her often-missing humanity, the creative team finds a splendid balance between wide screen set pieces and quiet, character moments.
With Dan Slott adding his creativity to the mix in the formation of the story, readers can easily see his love of the Fantastic Four shine through in the opening pages. Where one might have thought this story line was set to become "Avengers Vs The Fantastic Four," Ewing once again surprises us by taking a left turn from where readers expected the story was heading. As a fan of the Young Avengers myself, placing Hulkling into this role as the sacrificial glue that holds the Kree/Skrull alliance together is inspired. The creative team possesses a comprehensive knowledge of the universe they're working with here, and it shows.
One of the big issues I've seen in the past with Marvel crossovers is that in order to have heroes perhaps fight one another, they often behave out of character to manufacture a conflict. Luckily, in Empyre, every character acts precisely as they would elsewhere and before the fighting starts, nearly everyone involved is attempting to de-escalate the situation. It's a nice touch to get the ball rolling on what is sure to be an action-packed ride.
Empyre is looking to be a summer blockbuster that plays on the strengths of the Marvel Universe, weaving continuity seamlessly into this event series.
Published by Marvel Comics
On July 15, 2020
Written by Al Ewing
Art by Valerio Schiti
Colors by Marte Gracia
Letters by Joe Caramagna
Cover by Jim Cheung and Frank Martin