In recent decades, we have seen a militarisation of the superhero in popular fiction. That's how some of them began of course, the soldier and the police detective pulp fiction transformed into superheroes like Captain America, while later iterations like Sergeant Fury joined the ranks of SHIELD. But superheroes stopped killing and became more like wrestler performances, in their bright costumes and revolving door of supervillains. It was the late nineties series The Authority that changed a lot of this and made this the norm, succeeded by The Ultimates, which also had a strong thematic and visual influence on the Fox X-Men movies and the Marvel Studios movies from Iron Man into Avengers and beyond. Costumes were replaced by uniforms. The characters killed their opponents like soldiers. The government got involved. And the Marvel movies were as effective at spreading Americana across the globe as rock'n'roll was – even if, as with pop music, many of the central figures were Brits. The comic book series Civil War underlined this and we have seen government focus in many event comics that followed, as the word 'War' became more and more ubiquitous. And so to Empyre.
The current event comic book from Marvel has seen the previously-peaceful Cotati launching an assault on all animal life, beginning with their closest neighbours, the Earth. With a literal War Of The Worlds (co-written by the biggest War Of The Worlds fan in the world, Al Ewing) it also plays up the concept of Empire building and the rightful fury of the oppressed, and how it can also turn into oppression of its own, the lesson learned over time.
So we take the character of Captain America, who has always been a solider but only carries a shield as a weapon, turn to army leader, and willing to kill – or at least lead the killing – of Cotati troops. Even seeing them celebrate in the slaughter of war.
While Captain Marvel, another soldier turned superhero, has Carol Danvers become Danvers The Accuser, fighting on behalf of the Kree and Skrull Alliance against the Cotati.
And in destroying their space ships, killing thousands of troops.
But it is in Empyre #3 we learn of The Pyre, the weapon that the Cotati could use to destroy animal life.
That's if the Skrull Empire didn't use it against a Cotati-infected Skrull world, with its own embedded history in the Marvel Universe, first. The Skrull system where they mirror Americana from the 30s, 40s and 50s for their own jollity is no more… for Skrulls, Kree and humans are at war with the Cotati, and difficult decisions must be taken. So Carol Danvers is a Kree warrior of note.
And Captain America demands action for the USA to help their Earth allies, let alone the Kree and Skrull.
Not that he gets any joy. This is a USA that can't see beyond its own borders, let alone its atmosphere.
Which sees Captain America appeal to a higher power…
There are quite a lot of soldiers disobeying direct orders today. But Mexico has its own defenders too…
Conan and Venom, not the greatest respecters of the chain of command either…
EMPYRE #3 (OF 6)
(W) Al Ewing, Dan Slott (A) Valerio Schiti (CA) Jim Cheung
• The tag-team action comes home!
• Wakanda is the battleground – as the Avengers and the FF unite to prevent a Vibranium-powered threat to all life as we know it!
• A long-lost Avenger returns to active duty – but will that be enough to turn the tide?
• And in space, interstellar intrigue threatens the fragile Kree/Skrull alliance…and the repercussions might just doom planet Earth! Rated T+In Shops: Jul 29, 2020 SRP: $4.99
CAPTAIN MARVEL #18 EMP
(W) Kelly Thompson (A) Cory Smith (CA) Jorge Molina
CAPTAIN MARVEL IS THE SUPREME ACCUSER!
In the throes of war, Carol finds herself with a bold new role – and a brand-new weapon – the Universal Weapon, in fact. When a Kree soldier bombs a unified city of the Empire, Emperor Hulkling sends his new Accuser to bring down the swift and necessary hammer of justice. But what at first seems like a relatively simple directive will end up challenging Carol on a personal level she had never imagined. Rated T+In Shops: Jul 29, 2020 SRP: $3.99
EMPYRE CAPTAIN AMERICA #1 (OF 3)
(W) Phillip Kennedy Johnson (A) Ariel Olivetti (CA) Mike Henderson
The invasion has made landfall! Captain America stands on the front lines – but when the threat goes global even he won't be enough to stem the tides! Will Captain America be able to find allies willing to fight alongside him – or will he fall in the face of this intergalactic incursion? Rated T+In Shops: Jul 29, 2020 SRP: $3.99
EMPYRE SAVAGE AVENGERS #1
(W) Gerry Duggan (A/CA) Greg Smallwood
In South America, Conan finds himself enslaved – which is typically bad news for those attempting to do the enslaving! But these enslavers come from beyond the stars, and they've got a singular and grisly end in store for the Cimmerian – one that only Venom can help him avoid! Rated T+In Shops: Jul 29, 2020 SRP: $4.99
I bought mine from Piranha Comics in Kingston-Upon-Thames. Piranha Comics is a small south London comic store chain with a small south-east store in Kingston-Upon Thames's market centre, which runs Magic The Gathering nights on Fridays, and a larger south-west store in Bromley, which also runs Magic nights and has an extensive back issue collection and online store. If you are in the neighbourhood, check them out.