The latest crossover from the house Akira Yoshida built grapples with issues of genocide and distraction in equal measures, using only two brief action pieces to punctuate its pontifications. Unfortunately, these deep ideas come with a cost that may not be worth paying. There are two noteworthy things that happen in Empyre #4. The second one, which happens on the last page, is an emotional beat that informs the decisions of the newly minted ruler of two pan-galactic civilizations. That's an interesting character moment that seems to add pathos to some moments that have occurred, as well as giving a little light for a disenfranchised community, so that's worth noting.
There's one other thing, though, that's less satisfying not only because it continues the truly exhausting trend of weaponizing heroes to fight other heroes, but also because it plays upon victimizing a trauma soaked character. Likewise, it does so without doing more to make the antagonist's pretty sketchy, Krikkit-esque motivations any more weighty.
The production values, of course, are very high. This is a premier level big publishing event, so Valerio Schiti, Marte Gracia, and Joe Caramagna imbue every panel with fantastic quality and visual clarity, be they a battle or a conversation. However, Empyre # 4's ratio of spectacle to story is off-balance, which makes this a less than gripping read. Likewise, the core ideas here are only "jerks come from space to blow up the Earth because it's in the way," which was barely enough of a motivation for the Vogons, so with so much more at (publishing) stake, this should feel like it's something. It doesn't. As such … RATING: MEH.
EMPYRE #4 (of 6)
AL EWING & DAN SLOTT (W) • VALERIO SCHITI (A)
Cover by JIM CHEUNG
THE GRASS IS ALWAYS GREENER…
• Tensions mount as the action heats up!
• As the attack on Wakanda intensifies, the heroes find themselves under attack from their enemies — and their allies!
• In a war where nobody can be fully trusted, betrayal cuts deep — as the alien invasion claims its first casualty!
• In this issue: The shock ending you never expected! You'll want to frame it for your wall, True Believer!
Hannibal Tabu is a writer, journalist, DJ, poet and designer living in south Los Angeles with his wife and children. He's a winner of the 2012 Top Cow Talent Hunt, winner of the 2018-2019 Cultural Trailblazer award from the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, his weekly comic book review column THE BUY PILE can be found on iHeartRadio's Nerd-O-Rama podcast, his reviews can be found on BleedingCool.com, and more information can be found at his website, www.hannibaltabu.com.
Plus, get free weekly web comics on the Operative Network at http://bit.ly/combatshaman.