Empyre: Avengers #1 is tasked with the unenviable goal of creating something for the Avengers, who have been the core players in the main Empyre title, to do that adds to the overall title enough to make it feel worth the read, but not enough that those only reading the core book won't understand the narrative without it. The logistics aside, Empyre itself is a flawed narrative that hasn't given its cast of characters enough attention for any of its losses so far to feel earned. All of this has Empyre: The Avengers attempting to build a miniseries on a shaky foundation.
Jim Zub is one of the best writers in comics and has been since the release of his hilarious indie comic Skullkickers back in the year it was supposed to all end… 2012. Now, eight years later, when it all actually is ending, Zub is one of Marvel's go-to writers. Zub excels with action, humor, and character moments, and he manages to put his skills to work to make the events of Empyre seem a bit more interesting. The narrative casts a wide net and is essentially a series of vignettes of different Avengers battling in different areas for the entirety of the issue. It may not satisfy those who aren't already reading Empyre because the sprawling cast leaves little time for readers to catch up. However, it tells a more coherent than the main series simply by depicting the Avengers consistently, and true to their characters. The sheer amount of characters we see who get the spotlight here, from Doctor Voodoo to Quicksilver to Luke Cage to Doctor Nemesis and on, evokes Brian Michael Bendis's Avengers events when the supporting characters would get the spotlight rather than the A-listers of the time.
The art is the most interesting of the Empyre books I've read so far. Artist Carlos Magno and colorist Espen Grundetjern create a hyper-realistic vision of the Marvel Universe together with a slight painterly touch. It feels a world away from the artwork and especially the colors we've come to expect in these events, but it's a welcome departure.
Empyre: The Avengers may have started out with a disadvantage, but it still scores by making the Avengers feel like themselves.