After kicking off the latest Marvel comic event with a disappointing start in Empyre #1, the team behind this Avengers and Fantastic Four-led crossover are back for another installment. Can this tale of two warring races allying themselves to take on a plant-based threat get any better, or is it doomed from the start? Let's find out.
Al Ewing writes from a plot by himself and Dan Slott, and the wit that made his Loki run such a must-read is worlds away in this comic. Instead of buckling down and focusing on character now that the inciting incident has flipped the Marvel universe upside down, this issue falls back on lowest-common-denominator ideas and the most boring superhero tropes: villain explains his motivation at length, character receives a power-up without any emotion or character relevance attached. It's a shame to see such an expansive casts of dynamic, interesting heroes explaining a very simple situation to each other ad nauseum and then allowing themselves to be manipulated by villains who are being obvious villains. The exact same issues that made Empyre #1 a tough read are out in force in the second installment, which, considering the heights Marvel hit with previous events, makes the title difficult to read.
Empyre is not difficult to look at, though. Valerio Schiti, Marte Gracia, and letterer VC's Joe Caramagna create a beautiful Marvel comic. The stunning visuals unfortunately can't save the narrative, but they at least give the patient reader some eye candy along the way. From their creepy alien vegetation to their brilliant bursts of sci-fi action, the art team has exactly what is necessary to make a blockbuster Marvel event.
It seems the stakes have rarely been higher for the heroes of the Marvel universe, as the Cotati lay siege to Earth, covering the world with malevolent vegetables. With such a dangerous and seemingly impossible job, you'd think it would leave the reader intrigued as to what will happen next. Instead, all I can think about is that I'm excited to see what the other writers can do with this concept in the tie-ins, because the main event is failing to do the bare minimum of treating the Marvel icons with justice.