In Marvel Comics’ Empyre #3, on sale July 29, Al Ewing and Dan Slott present the next chapter of Marvel’s latest event and take it to another level by further muddying the waters. Two shocking returns and more deception turns Empyre into a spy movie-like thriller, and the writers also make us wonder if a sequel to Secret Invasion is on the horizon.
Story: Al Ewing & Dan Slott
Script: Al Ewing
Artist: Valerio Schiti
Color artist: Marte Gracia
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Empyre #3 instantly reminds readers how the Cotati are taking over planet Earth. In the opening pages, artist Valerio Schiti shows the invaders’ plant life covering the Eiffel Tower. It’s only a matter of time before the Cotati reach other iconic landmarks. Naturally, Marvel’s brightest minds join forces as they hope to counteract the potential conquerors. As a result, Reed Richards and Tony Stark come together in a scene that reminds us of the duo’s alliance in Civil War.
Richards’ team-up with Stark in that legendary event had disastrous consequences for the Marvel Universe. So seeing the two genius side-by-side doesn’t exactly fill the reader with joy. But Ewing and Slott make their reunion a compelling contrast between the two heroes. He juxtaposes Stark’s self-imposed isolation with Richards’ constant connection with his family. Stark is clearly struggling with his guilt for precipitating the Cotati’s onslaught, and Schiti brilliantly conveys just how far he’s fallen. Stark looks like a miserable college student during finals week, with bags under his eyes and stress lines all over his face. The sight of a coffee maker with multiple empty cups of coffee nearby completes the image of a man who’s burning the candle at both ends.
Richards tries to comfort his friend when Stark blames himself for believing Quoi’s lies. “Nobody could have seen this coming,” Richards says as he puts a reassuring hand on Stark’s shoulder. Seeing this reassuring gesture completes Richards’ return to the proverbial main event scene; after a lengthy absence, the Fantastic Four is back where they belong at the center of the Marvel Universe.
Still, Stark rejects Richards’ kindness. He snaps back at Richards’ claim that he’s not alone by saying that it’s easy for him to say that. Richards knows Stark is right because the Fantastic Four uniform is a reminder that Richards is always with his family. With this clear difference, Stark is at a crossroads; will he continue to isolate or will he lean on his allies? That decision could have major ramifications for the rest of this event.
Secret Invasion II?
The Kree and the Skrull empires have put aside their differences and united. This shift didn’t necessarily spell the Earth’s doom, but now it’s time to sound the alarm. Not only are the Cotati trying to annihilate all animal life on the planet, but now the Kree/Skrull alliance looms as a major threat. That may seem obvious, but the shocking return of a major Skrull supervillain at the end of the leaves us wondering if the next Secret Invasion is on the way. We’re only three issues into this event, but the writers have already shown us how the Kree/Skrull alliance is manipulating some of Empyre‘s significant players.
Deception abounds in Slott’s and Ewing’s story, and it’s fair to wonder how extensive the damage of this duplicity will be before it’s all said and done. The end result may be another attempted hostile takeover by the Skrulls. With the Kree empire by their side, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes may not be able to stop them this time.
Empyre hasn’t quite hit a level where you’re constantly on the edge of your seat, but this issue pushes the story forward in several fruitful directions. The potential of a Secret Invasion follow-up is promising, even if it’s ultimately just wishful thinking. The next installment might be make or break for this event’s ultimate success, as it’s about time Empyre becomes an all-out epic. Slott and Ewing have built a strong foundation through three issues; now, they just have to deliver the goods.
What’d you think of Empyre #3? Where do you hope to see the series go from here? Check out your local comic shop to see if you can get it there, or consider buying the comic online.