They were foils for the X-Men in the main Jonathan Hickman title, and now the Hordeculture, a team of foul-mouthed old ladies (and one who never swears), joins the Marvel mutants to fight back against the Cotati invasion happening as a result of the Empyre series. The first issue of Empyre: X-Men was one of the best tie-ins to the series, but with a change in the creative team, will Empyre: X-Men #2 live up to the debut?
Tini Howard and Jonathan Hickman wrote the first issue of Empyre: X-Men, which saw Scarlet Witch mistakenly create an army of zombies in an attempt to do penance for her No More Mutants moment. It was a poorly timed failed resurrection because, as the zombies rise, so too did the Cotati invasion. The whole thing made for a compelling read, but unfortunately, that emotional through-line is gone this issue. Empyre: X-Men #2 writers Gerry Duggan, Ben Percy, and Leah Williams craft the story with this issue, which shows Magik and the Hordeculture fighting back against the forces of evil while constantly bickering. The dialogue, especially compared to the first issue, felt off, with characters bending over backward to deliver poorly written quips.
Magik is a great character who should've been a scene-stealer in this issue of Empyre: X-Men, but the dialogue just made her grating rather than someone to root for. The Hordeculture were the best part of the issue, with Opal being the standout, but even her non-cussing shtick was overdone when she tells someone to watch their "d-word mouth." Unless she was going for a way stranger insult than the sentence structure would suggest, it seems like the script could have used a bit of a stronger editorial hand.
The artwork from Lucas Werneck and colorist Nolan Woodard is good, managing to capture the chaos of a busy battle scene without making it seem messy. Empyre: X-Men one of the better looking of the event's tie-ins, and even as the story goes off the rails a bit, both the artwork and the lettering by VC's Clayton Cowels make Empyre: X-Men at least visually consistent.
The way that the current X-Men titles are written has been described as having the collaborative style of the E Street Band. Even so, it's surprising how much of a drop in quality the second issue is from the first, but with the talent of the next group of writers set to continue the story with the third issue consisting of Ed Brisson, Vita Ayala, and Zeb Wells, all is, thankfully, not lost for Empyre: X-Men.