So another week passed us by, which means another week of Empyre books from Marvel that are…genuinely and surprisingly good? I’m as surprised as you are! This week’s Marvel Rundown has a review of the first issue of Empyre: Captain America! Plus, Dawn of X welcomes another new title to its ranks in the highly-anticipated X-Factor!
We’ve got reviews of those books, plus a Rapid Rundown of other new titles for the week, all ahead in this week’s installment of The Marvel Rundown!
Empyre: Captain America #1
Script by Phillip Kennedy Johnson
Art by Ariel Olivetti
Colors by Rachelle Rosenberg
Lettering by VC’s Ariana Maher & Joe Carmagna
Cover by Mike Henderson
After years and years of Captain America being thrown around for a myriad of convoluted (and often fruitless) stories, this first issue of Empyre: Captain America felt like a breath of fresh air. I admit that I went in skeptical, but by the end I was 100% onboard.
As American military forces are trying to fend off the impending invasion of the Cotati — reaching a fulcrum of chaos after the arrival of the mightiest of their kind, Sci Qaanth — Captain America swoops in to save the day. Despite one soldier taking some mighty wounds and erm…infections…from the fallen Cotati sage, the squadron heads to the Pentagon after a gunfight and some kind words from Cap to his comrades-in-arms. Once there, Cap gets to do what he does best: explain how badly the rest of the world needs his help, and that the fight isn’t just about defending America. The story ends with a bloody, leafy end, with a cliffhanger that is sure to leave fans wanting more.
More than anything, this book succeeds in setting readers up for the fun and horrors they can expect in future issues. The issue stays true to the climbing-point storytelling format, ending on a note that is just full enough to make a point, but not enough that you’ll know what is coming next. And furthermore, we get to see Captain America being Captain America in his purest form — making it very clear to some other “patriots” that standing for justice and protection does not solely mean defending America…even if that debt is never repaid.
Subversive! Timely! Look, all I’m saying is — there are a lot of people that could stand to read this comic.
Final Verdict: Buy. As far as Captain America comics go, we’ve seen a lot happen over the past few years; and this comics feels like a kick back to the Steve Rogers we all know and love from the old days willing to put himself on the line for those who need it. Not only that, but this is a great big bag of potential for where the horrors of the Cotati on earth could go.
Script by Leah Williams
Art by David Baldeón
Colors by Israel Silva
Lettering by VC’s Joe Carmagna
Cover by Ivan Shavrin
Back once again as an entertainment powerhouse is the team-up of Leah Williams and David Baldeón, who have graced us with their wit, comedic timing, and fluid artwork back with Gwenpool Strikes Back. Luckily, these two have brought that same energy to the X-Men universe with X-Factor and it is proving to be an absolute joy.
Baldeón, as always, delivers jokes as well in art form as Williams does in script, and the facial expressions of the characters are enough to draw the eye across the page — let alone the full-page swaths of detailed line work. Backing that up is Williams who is — as always — more than happy to tell a story that sticks to the integrity of the original characters, pumps it up with some high-key horniness, and makes it all stick together with subtle emotional nuances and some killer jokes. More than anything else, this book succeeds in bringing X-Factor back into the fold of the current X-Men continuity; meeting somewhere between a particularly episode of The Real World and a really messed up version of The Hardy Boys. You can’t go wrong.
Final Verdict: Buy. Like I said, this is horny Hardy Boys. Reader, you need no other explanation, I assure you.
- Amazing Spider-Man #45
- After a series of filler arcs, things are ratcheting up again with Kindred’s machinations finally coming into play. His latest ploy? To resurrect the Sin-Eater, one of Spider-Man’s deadliest foes. This is a decent and intense look into what his resurrection means for Peter, and this is all brought to life by Spider-Man alumni Mark Bagley’s energetic pages. I don’t know where the story is going but I’m tentatively excited to read more. —HW
- Empyre #3
- This issue brings us to the midpoint of the crossover, and it’s still holding my attention fairly well. The Cotati have made landfall on Earth and the battle rages on multiple fronts (hence all the tie-ins, naturally), but the focus here is mainly on what appears to be their ultimate objective in Wakanda, and on Hulkling’s continued struggle to come into his own as ruler of the united Kree/Skrull empire, a culture he still knows fairly little about. Al Ewing‘s scripting is sharp as ever, and Valerio Schiti and Marte Gracia continue to work wonders in the art department. This latest issue may not be as strong as the two the preceded it, but it’s still pretty damn fun. —JG
- Empyre: Savage Avengers #1
- And speaking of fun, here’s a completely unnecessary tie-in that features Conan and Venom teaming up against Cotati invaders in Mexico City. Gerry Duggan takes a relatively light tale and still manages to wring some pathos out of it on Conan’s part, and the banter from Venom is really delightful. But Greg Smallwood‘s art is what drew me in here, and it didn’t disappoint. He captures the terror in the eyes of the Cotati as they face Conan’s wrath so effectively that I found myself feeling bad for them. Sure they don’t all have to die, right? Again, this is totally unnecessary as far as tie-ins go, but it’s still really entertaining. —JG
- Star Wars: Darth Vader #3
- I’m not a… fan… of the Star Wars prequels, but I think Greg Pak and Raffaele Ienco are doing some interesting things by bringing the prequels so heavily into focus with this run. In all honesty, Pak is dusting off some old cobwebs in my brain. He’s tackling themes and characters that I have completely forgotten about and I’m surprised to not have seen any of these characters show up again in other stories. I highly recommend this to prequel fans; here ye will find much absolution and acceptance for those weird movies you like. —HW
Next week, Empyre marches on, and a new Giant-Size X-Men one-shot features the fantastic Fantomex!