Empyre #4 Review: Big Character Reveals For Hulking and More

Empyre #4
6/10
A few surprising twists make this the best issue so far.

Empyre #4 is back with an issue that is packed with reveals. Hulkling gets a reveal, She-Hulk gets a reveal, Wiccan gets to hit Hulkling with another reveal! Writer Al Ewing is the Oprah of character reveals with this issue, but does it work to make this grass-fed event any better?

Empyre #4 contains a big Hulkling reveal. Credit: Marvel Comics
Empyre #4 contains a big Hulkling reveal. Credit: Marvel Comics

Actually, kind of yeah.

Al Ewing writes from a plot by himself and Dan Slott and does so with a sudden focus on character. Heroes and villains are given moments to make major decisions that will be, within the Empyre saga, defining moments for them. Does it all lack subtlety? Absolutely yes. It happens in much same way that, in Empyre #1, the Cotati were so openly evil and foreboding before revealing their plan that the Avengers being fooled by them was out-of-character. Here, Hulkling is so obviously not himself, in both his dialogue and the artwork, that it's cartoonish. Still, though, even though the writing is as subtle as a brick, it at least allows for — finally — some character drama in the midst of this weedy war.

Much the same as the first three issues, the art team of Valerio Schiti, Marte Gracia, and VC's Joe Caramagna carry Empyre. It's going to be very interesting to see what these creators do once they're done with this viney invasion. The depiction of Hulkling is, as mentioned above, lacking subtlety as mentioned above, but because Hulkling's appearance matches his suddenly arch dialogue, it's not something that can be blamed on the art team.

On a personal note, I've been critical of Empyre because I not only love Marvel characters, but I've also been defensive of events. Superhero Event Comics often get dismissed as big, dumb, plodding storylines that ruin what's going on in other titles all to cash in… but I've never seen it that way. When events come together right, they can create a beautiful connectivity in these comic book universes that wouldn't work in any other medium. Empyre has been weak because it lost sight of characters and was, from the beginning, the epitome everything that events get critiqued for… but this issue, Empyre #4, was far and away the best of the series. It's probably too late to make the event work narratively because it's built on the shakiest of foundations, but this was, for the first time in the series, at least not an unpleasant read.

About Theo Dwyer

Theo Dwyer writes about comics, film, and games.