Cosmic war has broken out, and the Avengers and the Fantastic Four are on different sides! Your Major Spoilers review of Empyre #3 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: July 29, 2020

Previously in Empyre: Wakanda is the battleground, as the Avengers and the FF unite to prevent a Vibranium-powered threat to all life as we know it! A long-lost Avenger returns to active duty… but will that be enough to turn the tide? And in space, interstellar intrigue threatens the fragile Kree/Skrull alliance… and the repercussions might just doom planet Earth!


After the shocking swerve of the Cotati invasion, the Avengers and Fantastic Four have split their forces in order to better manage the four-fold crisis. Reed Richards and a demoralized Tony Stark work the scientific angle, searching for way to neutralize the aliens’ plant-control powers, while The Thing and the Agents of Wakanda have dug in to defend the Vibranium Mound there, whose soil the aliens seem to be after. On the Kree Throneworld, Captain Marvel, Super-Skrull and Tanalth the Pursuer each try to convince Emperor Hulkling that their plan is the way to save lives, only to have him give his mystical sword to The Black Panther, who has a plan of his own. As for the Invisible Woman, she and an Avengers contingent are on hand to welcome a new player, one who may have some influence over Quoi, the Cotati leader: His mother, the long-absent Avenger Mantis!


This issue is all setup and maneuvering, giving us some depth on the characters response to this unprecedented crisis, and while that sort of plotting can sometimes seem like stalling, it absolutely works here. Tony’s crisis of faith rings true, while Sue and Mantis discussing Quoi, wondering if Sue would try to save her own child in such a situation is wonderful. Perhaps my favorite part is a reveal about Tanalth that throws another wrench into the question of Kree/Skrull motives, and reveals Captain Glory to be the biggest jerkface in the Marvel Universe (and that’s saying something.) Schiti once again makes every page a glorious tapestry, even though there’s a lot of plotting and planning. The reveal of Super-Skrull’s secret is a gorgeous space “landscape” and even The Swordsman, who has NEVER looked cool, looks cool. I especially appreciate Tanalth’s look of utter disgust at Hulkling’s seeming weakness as leader, a truly impressive amount of “acting” delivered in one perfect panel.


In short, Empyre #3 is another in a series of strong issues from Slott, Ewing, Schiti and company, taking the universe-spanning danger and making it feel cosmic while still being understandable, using a huge cast to perfect effect and taking an issue that could have felt like filler and using it to deliver a couple of big surprises and some amazing art, earning a well-deserved 4 out of 5 stars overall. There’s a lot of crossover issues coming, so things might lose their focus, but the first three issues of Empyre stand as one of the strongest big crossover openings in recent memory.

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A Cosmic Conundrum

Well-drawn and ingeniously plotted, this issue once again surprises me. It reminds me of the original Kree/Skrull War and that's a good thing.

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Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

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