The end of the Cotati invasion has finally come with Empyre #6. From the start, Empyre was a messy event with poor characterization, but the last issue saw a major improvement in the writing. Will that carry over to the finale, or is this destined to be Marvel's worst event?
Al Ewing pulled out all the stops with these last two issues, which went a long way to redeem Empyre in its final hour. Now, with Empyre #6, many of the series' problems still remain, but characters are given their time to shine with major moments. There's even a bit here where Reed Richards addresses Tony Stark acting out-of-character (seems like Reed would agree with this take on the first issue), to which Tony gives a fairly compelling speech. It doesn't excuse the poor characterization in earlier issues, but it does make for a powerful moment that harkens back to the forging of Iron Man. There's a lot of speechifying in this issue, and more than a little "Let's explain the situation all of the characters already understand to remind the reader." Still, the writing overall is much better than the first half of the event. The climax gives the key characters major hero moments, especially Black Panther, who shines as the ultimate victor of the event. This solid ending may not save the entirety of Empyre, which was still ill-conceived from the start, but the improvement is stunning in and of itself.
Artist Valerio Schiti and colorist Marte Gracia, along with letterer VC's Joe Caramagna, have been carrying Empyre from the start, and Empyre #6 is their most beautiful issue yet. Throughout, the characters look great, and the battles are gripping, but the visual peak of the whole series is Black Panther's final triumph. There's a The Creation of Adam quality to the panel where T'Challa saves the day, creating an awe-inspiring portrait of a man triumphing over a seemingly impossible challenge.
Overall, Empyre won't be an event that will leave a lasting legacy like Civil War, nor one that will have emotional character ramifications like Siege, but it impressed with the way it gave Marvel's icons their due with this finale.