Previously on Empyrean Evaluations: Captain Marvel got stabbed with a magic space sword while Quoi narrated the whole Empyre story so far. In Empyre #3, will we leave all exposition behind and move forward with the story? Maybe.
Story: Al Ewing and Dan Slott
Art: Valerio Schiti
Colors: Marte Gracia
Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Reed Richards: Knows Your Password
Good news: we’re finally done with picking up the pieces after Empyre #1. There’s hardly any exposition here. Bad news: we’re just setting up the rest of the story.
There are a lot of moving parts here so things aren’t as slow as you’d expect from an issue where everyone just talks except for a few glimpses of super-heroes fighting plant people.
That’s not to say all the talking isn’t interesting, though. We follow every member of the Fantastic Four who are scattered across Earth and space. We get some funny and some genuinely surprising exchanges between members of Marvel’s first family and other characters.
We start with Reed Richard, Mr. Fantastic, at Avengers Mountain where he bears witness to Tony Stark’s self-loathing and pity party. They’re supposed to be figuring out how the Cotati’s plant-control powers work, but instead, they’re having a debate on how everything is or is not Tony Stark’s fault.
Plant people are wreaking havoc across the globe and there’s another alien armada right outside Earth’s door. Way to make everything about you, Tony.
This doesn’t really contribute much to the larger Empyre story, but it’s a nice little moment between two of Marvel’s biggest brains.
Also, Reed Richards probably knows all of our passwords.
Ben Grimm: Not a Linguist
Over at the Wakandan border, we get a short but cute exchange between Ben Grimm and Shuri about knowledge and language. We finally know what “Yibambe!” means and it’s not what Ben Grimm thinks.
I feel like they just inserted these couple of pages with The Thing and Shuri so they could say there’s some action in Empyre #3. We’re halfway through the main series and they’re still holding back on big moments beyond the first issue’s heel turn.
Everything still looks pretty, though. Valerio Schiti and Marte Gracia are still killing it on art whether The Thing is punching some poor plant people in the face or characters are just talking about things they’re going to do next.
Speaking of which, we take a short look at Quoi and the Swordsman being nefarious and vague before going to the next Fantastic Four member.
Sue Richards: Diplomat-ish
The Invisible Woman is with Black Panther and Hulk (the Jennifer Walters one) at the palace of Wakanda, playing welcome party to Mantis, the mother of Quoi. The plan is to use diplomacy to end the conflict. Seeing that this is a comic book crossover event, I don’t see it ending with people politely saying “Oops, sorry about trying to kill you!” and moving on with their lives.
Following the setting-up-the-rest-of-the-story motif, we get a bit of exposition here before everyone vaguely announces what they’re going to do next. Definitely not the badass return of Mantis I was expecting.
Johnny Storm: Voice of Reason
The planning and the talking continue IN SPAAACE with the Human Torch, Captain Marvel, and the Kree/Skrull Alliance gang.
It’s good to see some character work on Hulkling here since he’s one of the focal characters on the event and we barely know what he’s thinking or feeling, particularly in these past couple of issues. Now he’s showing some balls and even a heroic stance, which finally makes him an interesting character, especially for people who haven’t been following the story of the Young Avengers.
Speaking of showing a surprising amount of character, Johnny Storm plays the adult in the room. You know you’re in big trouble when the main voice of reason in your space armada’s group of leaders is the Human flamin’ Torch.
Space is where the meat of the story is in Empyre #3 mainly because of a couple of shocking reveals. More shocking than Johnny Storm being everyone’s mature uncle is the horrific actions of one of the characters. I can’t imagine that terrible act not having any consequences down the line.
The other shocking reveal is the true identity of one of the members of Hulking’s crew. Not going to spoil it here, but it’s a doozy. Things are going to get really interesting now. Hopefully.
Empyre #3 is not as full of exposition as Empyre #2, but it still dangerously feels like the series is treading water. Ewing and Slott drop some fascinating hints about where we’re going next, but for now, we’re still waiting for things to pick back up again.
We’re going to save the ranking of Empyre in The List once the whole series is done. For now, this third issue gets 3 stars.
Empyre #3 is available now wherever fine comic books are sold.