Empyre: Captain America #2 Review: Johnson Should Write the Main Title

Empyre: Captain America #2
Empyre: Captain America #2 is a perfect embodiment of who Steve Rogers is. Phillip Kennedy Johnson could write the main Cap title.

Empyre: Captain America was the best Empyre tie-in thus far when it released its first issue, with writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson's depiction of Cap as a major standout. Now, it's back with Empyre: Captain America #2… and does it keep that same energy?

Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Ariel Olivetti's Empyre: Captain America has been a thrilling tie-in. Credit: Marvel Comics
Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Ariel Olivetti's Empyre: Captain America has been a thrilling tie-in. Credit: Marvel Comics

It's… it's just so good.

Empyre: Captain America #2 continues writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson's take on Cap, which sees the American icon team up with some soldiers on the ground to fight off the Cotati invasion. It has elements of sci-fi horror and even zombie fiction, as one the soldiers is infected and possessed by the vegetative invaders. The plot and the seemingly insurmountable threat is very interesting, but it's the characterization of Cap himself that makes this such a terrific read. Not only is he the heroic, patriotic, empathetic character readers have grown to love over the decades of publication, he's, at his core, a good man who sees the best in other people. This is shown during a story Cap tells about the sacrifice that soldiers make and why he, as an Avenger who has faced an apocalyptic threat, still feels that it is a worthy cause to fight alongside members of the military. Johnson would, when the current run reaches its natural close, be an excellent choice as the main writer on Captain America.

The art by Ariel Olivetti is very good, with colors from Rachelle Rosenberg that lose the brightness and gloss many Marvel superhero comics have for a flatter palette that elevates both the character-focused moments. The horror of the Cotati invasion comes in two forms: the assault on the world, and the body horror of the way the infiltrate people and use them as puppets.

Empyre: Captain America under the capable pen of Phillip Kennedy Johnson remains the best overall comic in the Empyre saga, but now one must wonder… with the climax of the series taking place in Mexico City, will this series cross over with another Empyre tie-in? We'll see next time.

About Theo Dwyer

Theo Dwyer writes about comics, film, and games.