Empyre: Avengers #3 Review: Does Ka-Zar Survive?

Empyre: Avengers #3
Empyre: Avengers #3 follows up on last issue's cliffhanger, which saw Ka-Zar seemingly killed. How does this Marvel tie-in end?

Empyre: Avengers left off with a deadly cliffhanger in the last issue that saw Ka-Zar stabbed with what looked like a fatal wound. Does the man who embodies the Savage Lands survive Empyre: Avengers #3, the final issue of this event tie-in?

Empyre: Avengers #3 concludes Jim Zub's tie-in. Credit: Marvel
Empyre: Avengers #3 concludes Jim Zub's tie-in. Credit: Marvel

While Empyre: Avengers was overall a fun read now that the whole thing is complete, the set-up was far more interesting than the payoff. The first issue was a roller coaster ride of action, showing the immediate fallout as the Avengers split up to fight off the Cotati invasion in various parts of the world. The second issue added some emotional depth with Ka-Zar, Shanna, and their son, leaving the issues with a startling cliffhanger that, because this is a tie-in series, pretty obviously wouldn't stick but still provided a shock. Unfortunately, Empyre: Avengers #3 feels less like a climax and more like it's rushing the characters out of this situation so they can go back to the main book for the finale. The battles don't have any really huge moments of clarity that lead to victory, no huge hero moments… the good guys just win, quickly, either due to their powers or something mystical, as in the Savage Lands. It speaks to the size of the cast, which made for a fun set up but left writer Jim Zub unable to service any of the characters or their situations well enough to provide a sufficient ending. Three issues is a short time to essentially handle three stories with three different casts going on at once, but it's clear that Emprye: Avengers would have been better without the Quicksilver portion of the story. Zub is a good writer, and it would have likely improved this series greatly if he was able to devote more pages here to both the Savage Lands story and Luke Cage's defense of New York so that both would've felt more complete.

The art of Empyre: Avengers #3 is gorgeous, with Espen Grundetjern's light, almost misty colors working beautifully with Carlos Magno's hyper-detailed lines. The Savage Lands scenes, in particular, lend themselves to this style of art, which is detailed without being too liney, avoiding that look that the comics of the New 52 popularized as the definitive superhero style for some time. Marvel's house style has gotten cleaner in recent years, leaning more Coipel and less Jim Lee in style, but Magno offers something here that feels in-line with the other Marvel titles while still looking unique.

Empyre: Avengers #3 is still worth a read for those who enjoyed the first two issues, but this rushed finale ends up making the whole affair seem less of its own story and more supplemental.

About Theo Dwyer

Theo Dwyer writes about comics, film, and games.