Previously on Empyrean Evaluations: Our heroes got fooled again by the Cotati and the Kree/Skrull Alliance. In Empyre #5, will they be able to get back on their feet, turn the tide, and prevent catastrophe? SPOILER: No, they will not.
Story: Al Ewing and Dan Slott
Art: Valerio Schiti
Colors: Marte Gracia
Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna
I believe this is the first time a gay relationship has been featured prominently in a major Marvel event and it’s refreshing.
It turns out Wiccan and Hulkling had a Vegas wedding before all of this went down and it’s cute as hell. It’s well-written, charming, and wholesome. It’s a bright spot amidst all the doom and gloom that is not just happening in this series but outside of the comic book panel as well.
With that touching, lighthearted moment between two people who clearly love each other, we go right back to people punching each other in the face with the intent to kill.
The Immortal Thing
Empyre #5 brings us possibly the best moment of the series so far. The Cotati jerk inhabiting the dead body of Jennifer Walters Hulk is beating the living hell out of The Thing as the Invisible Woman and Mantis watch in horror.
Good ol’ Ben Grimm looks like he’s a goner — until Plant Zombie Hulk suggests he should just give up. And folks, if there’s one thing we should know about Benjamin J. Grimm, it is that he never ever gives up. Especially if you killed one of his friends, threatened his family, and implied that he can’t fight for the little guy. He will fight you. Hard.
Bleeding and beaten badly, The Thing punches back, stands up, and gets ready to fight some more. Because Ben Grimm never gives up.
The Thing has been one of the most entertaining parts of Empyre so far with his funny one-liners and quips. However, in this moment, he becomes the heart and soul of the series. If you’ve been reading Empyre and have been looking for a reason to care, this is it.
Black Panther’s Last Stand
I gave Black Panther a hard time in my Empyre #4 review because we were led to believe that he had a brilliant plan and it turned out it was just to fight the Cotati with the Star-Sword. I’m not taking it back.
That’s a pretty straightforward, underwhelming plan for a master strategist. It’s no surprise that it doesn’t work. Here, Black Panther suffers a devastating loss and fails to protect the Wakandan mound. The Cotati take the mound and they’re now about to take control of all non-sentient plant life in the galaxy.
How can you fight the forest? Not alone with a magic space sword, apparently.
The Hulkling in the Iron Mask
Over at the Kree/Skrull Alliance flagship, we get a Man in the Iron Mask moment as Wiccan, Captain Marvel, and the Human Torch arrive with Hulkling who they just rescued from a holding cell off-panel. They confront the pretender Hulkling before finding out that Pretender Hulkling has actually just pulled an Ozymandias (the Watchmen character, not the weird X-Men villain made of stone).
He has triggered the Pyre, which means the Earth’s sun is about to overload and burn everything to a crisp.
Time is running out. The Cotati is on the brink of galactic supremacy. The sun is about to explode. Iron Man and Mr. Fantastic have about 10 minutes to figure out how they can save everyone from both threats. Things are about to get interesting.
Empyre #5 makes up for the lull of issues #2 and #3 by presenting the Cotati as an actual threat, setting up a final showdown between our heroes and the Kree/Skrull Alliance, and giving The Thing an iconic heroic moment.
The Avengers and the Fantastic Four looked like chumps in the last four issues, but now they’re ready to remind everyone that they never stay down long. They’re getting ready to get back up, make a stand, and challenge all these alien jerks to put up their dukes.
We’re going to save the ranking of Empyre in The List once the whole series is done. For now, this third issue gets 4 stars.
Empyre #5 is available now wherever fine comic books are sold.