Tomorrow will see the publication of Empyre #4, the fourth issue of Marvel Comics series that has seen the Avengers and the Fantastic Four deal with a combined invasion of Skrull and Kree alien empires together – that turned out to be an assault on the seemingly-peaceful plant-like Cotati race. But then it turned out that the Cotati were the genocidal ones and the Kree and the Skrull were just there to help out. The armadas were led by Teddy Altman, or Hulkling, a member of the Young Avengers and a child of Kree and Skrull parents. Now that he has ascended to the throne, he is also known as Dorrek VIII.
As part of becoming joint emperor and leading both fleets, Hulkling had to rid himself of Earthly concerns, including his long-time boyfriend, son of Scarlet Witch and the Vision, Billy Kaplan, also known as Wiccan. He did so, with Wiccan's blessing, who know their union was strong enough to withstand such an official separation. In Empyre #4, we get an idea of just how strong it is. The issue is full of twists and turns, including the death of an Avenger – but that's not why it will make the big headlines. At which point it is necessary to bring in the first of a number of spoiler warnings.
This is the solicitation for Empyre #4.
EMPYRE #4 (OF 6)
(W) Al Ewing, Dan Slott (A) Valerio Schiti (CA) Jim Cheung
THE GRASS IS ALWAYS GREENER…
• Tensions mount as the action heats up!
• As the attack on Wakanda intensifies, the heroes find themselves under attack from their enemies – and their allies!
• In a war where nobody can be fully trusted, betrayal cuts deep – as the alien invasion claims its first casualty!
• In this issue: The shock ending you never expected! You'll want to frame it for your wall, True Believer! Rated T+In Shops: Aug 05, 2020 SRP: $4.99
Because Empyre #4 ties into something that might have been suggested a while ago in the Marvel Comics #1000 special published a year ago, in August 2019. We saw Teddy and Billy then, with the rest of the Young Avengers, for one page by their creators Allen Heinberg and Jim Cheung attending a celebration dinner. And we suggested what that might mean at the time.
Then there was also the silhouetted cover for the Avengers: Empyre Aftermath epilogue comic book.
No, that's a spoiler warning again.
That's better. And Incoming #1 from Christmas also underlined the love that Bill and Ted have for each other.
And it suddenly all comes together in Empyre #4 at the very end, If you haven't worked it out here is yet another Spoiler Warning.
Ladies and gentlemen, a flashback to the wedding of Hulking and Wiccan. Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure together. And what that celebration dinner was clearly celebrating. Empyre #4 features the first Marvel Comics marriage of two gay superheroes. Northstar got married to his non-super boyfriend, and there have been other Marvel gay marriages before, but this is the first between two of their superhero characters. In comparison, Mark Millar got DC Comics/Wildstorm to let Midnighter and Apollo marry back in the early noughties, but they have done a lot to hide that over the last couple of decades.
One way or another, quite a few people may be looking for Empyre #4 in their local comic book shop tomorrow. Maybe two copies, so they can cut out and keep the final splash page. There is no way retailers have ordered enough or Marvel have printed enough. Might even get people running to pick up copies of Marvel Comics #1000 or Incoming #1 too…