The week that Diamond Comic Distributors closed its doors to new comics and stopped shipping out new product, was the week that Marcel Comics was due to debut its first Empyre comic books. Empyre: Fantastic Four #0 and Empyre: Avengers #0 are currently being held at Diamond Comic Distributors warehouses and Marvel did not publish the titles digitally. It seems Bleeding Cool were among the very few to somehow end up with copies – as well as Empyre #1 which would have been coming out in a week's time.
The big new event from Marvel Comics, masterminded by Dan Slott and Al Ewing, with some very A-list artists on call, including the zero issues drawn by Pepe Larraz and RM Guera from House Of X and Power Of X, with Valerio Schiti kicking off #1. Right now, Marvel could have been entering its biggest promotional activity, but the opposition of events entered the scenario. Empyre was to have told the story of a Skrull/Kree Alliance after the ending of the war, under the leadership of Hulking, heading to Earth for a bit of a barney.
The Cotati were involved, as well as the Skrull family from Meet The Skrulls, the Celestial Messiah and the Swordsman from Avengers, and the Skrull and Kree team seen in Incoming #1. And all this will still happen when the project is finally published and distributed in a few months time. Which is why Bleeding Cool has been rather reticent with spoilers.
During the shutdown, creative teams are continuing to work on the series, which might help improve on the tardiness that some big events have suffered in recent years. But how will Marvel be pimping it out when it is finally published?
Retailers will also receive a free folded poster with the legend Join the Alliance for display in stores, included in the next available shipment of new product from Diamond. Whenever that may be. Which means it is also currently being held in a warehouse, awaiting release. They also have a promotional issue called Empyre Magazine originally planned for release in April. Which really sounds like something Kieron Gillen might have come up with.
Retailers will also receive one free copy of a secret variant cover for each of the six issues of Marvel Comics' Empyre. One per store, with a print run of around 2000+. that might sell for three figures on eBay. The first secret variant will be shipped with copies of Empyre #1 and more details will be revealed in coming weeks. We also have the covers to the second printing of Empyre #1 and 2 below. Which are both being published on the same day as the first prints. The logic here has yet to be adequately explained.
They also promised to release the following teasers – some of which came out, others that are still lined up. Empyre Logo Teaser, Four Empyre "Build Up" Teasers, Kree-Skrull War, Celestial Messiah, Hulkling's Destiny, Kree/Skrull Aftermath, Empyre House Ad Teasers, Join The Alliance, Emperor Hulkling's Call to Action and more. Then a series of video trailers, again some released, others waiting in the wings. Incoming Trailer, Redacted Empyre Trailer, Empyre Revealed Trailer, Kree vs. Skrull Creator Video, Empyre #1 Pre-FOC Trailer (to be released), Reasons to Read Empyre Video (to be released), Hot Seat Video with Dan Slott (to be released), Empyre #1 Post-Release Video (to be released). They also have a special Empyre #1 trailer to be aired on MeTV. But not yet.
Then there were the covers. So many variant covers. And they hadn't even got to releasing the retailer exclusive variant versions yet either. They also lined up creator PR interviews and exclusive first looks for both the main series and tie-ins featured on Comicbook.com, SYFY Wire, Screen Rant, AV Club, CBR, Newsarama and an Empyre State of Mynd column every week on Adventures in Poor Taste. Midnight launches from comic book stores (which now seems an impossible luxury) would have including promotional postcards, exclusive variants, and sets of Empyre pins to be given away.
There were also large discounts given to retailers who ordered plenty of copies – but what ended up happening is that this extended discount was applied to every Marvel comic book that retailers had ordered, as a result of the current global situation. The only problem was, that none of the comic books have, as yet, been distributed to stores. Still, at least we can have a look at the cover variants still waiting to be published. Especially the 'Skrull Green Cover' with optimistic pre-sales for over $200 on eBay.