The interstellar conflict claims its first casualty! Your Major Spoilers review of Empyre #4 from Marvel Comics awaits!
Writer: Al Ewing & Dan Slott
Artist: Valerio Schiti
Colorist: Marte Gracia
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $4.99
Release Date: August 5, 2020
Previously in Empyre: Tensions mount as the action heats up! As the attack on Wakanda intensifies, the heroes find themselves under attack from their enemies AND their allies! In a war where nobody can be fully trusted, betrayal cuts deep, as the alien invasion claims its first casualty!
WHAT IS A KING?
In orbit around the Earth, the flagship of the Kree/Skrull alliance becomes host to one of the most dangerous decisions of all: How to remove the Cotati from Earth once and for all. With Captain America unable to unite the forces of humanity, Captain Marvel is forced to listen to Super Skrull’s plan to detoniate the Sun itself, destroying the threat to the galaxy and the low, low price of a couple billion deceased humans. When she and the Human Torch refuse to acquiesce, Emperor Hulkling steps in and orders the deployment of the Pyre weapon, then has his lieutenant teleport Marvel and the Human Torch away. But, she only had one spell prepared, leaving Carol and Johnny on Earth, in Hulkling’s home, where Wiccan is waiting… and he’s sure that the man who banished them is NOT his husband. In Wakanda, Mantis finally confronts her son and her ex, trying to convince Quoi to give up on his plans for conquest, but the Celestial Messiah isn’t interested in parlay. When She-Hulk advises Quoi to press his attack, The Thing is stunned, only to have her reveal her true nature: She’s actually possessed by a Cotati who can use She-Hulk’s might for their own uses… and killing the real She-Hulk.
“THE JEN YOU KNOW IS VERY, VERY DEAD…”
This issue doubles down on a couple of the most important bits so far, with a broken Iron Man working with a concerned Reed Richards, while The Black Panther rallies his troops to fight off Cotati invaders after the Wakandan Vibranium pile, but the focus of this issue is a couple of hard decisions and two cases of mistaken identity. Schiti’s art is once again top-notch throughout the issue, especially in the subtle moments (like the facial expressions that prove to Wiccan that Hulkling has somehow been possessed or the body horror transformation of Cotati/She-Hulk) and it even makes up for the fact that the story does flag a little bit here. With so many moving parts, this issue isn’t quite as compelling as the previous three, but it’s still got a lot of good ideas in play, and the continued separation of the Avengers and Fantastic Four will make their eventual assembly even more powerful. I’m also happy to report that the depiction of Wiccan and Hulkling’s wedding shows their pals from the Young Avengers in attendance, the kind of continuity nods that these sort of stories often gloss over or forget.
BOTTOM LINE: A COUPLE OF BIG TWISTS
In short, Empyre #4 ups the ante with big story moments, but the plotting is slightly less tense than it has been, with excellent art and enough going on that I’ll still absolutely be back for next issue and the big finale, earning 3.5 out of 5 stars overall. I’ve read people complaining about this book and labeling the worst thing ever, but the truth is simple: It’s that rare big cosmic event that hinges on character, builds on continuity and doesn’t force the same players we’ve seen in the last six crossovers to the forefront, and you should really give it a chance.
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