Writer: Jonathan Hickman and Tini Howard
Art: Matteo Buffagni and Mike McKone
Release Date: July 22nd, 2020
As we push onward in the seemingly never-ending amount of Empyre books, we make our way to Empyre X-Men #1. Is this tie in worth spending your hard-earned dollars on, or should you just give it a pass? Read on for a SPOILER-FREE review!
Short answer, yes! I truly believe this issue is worthy of picking up. It builds on not only what’s going on in the Empyre event, but also the X-Men main books. We’ve got Genosha, plants, and zombies!!
How we get there, and the story that is crafted by Jonathan Hickman and Tini Howard needs to be read to be believed. The first 16-18 pages of this book are the most fun I’ve had reading any of the X-books since the Hickman and Company relaunch. We get a brief recap of a “major” X-men event from the past. This leads to a major choice made by a mutant that is fueled by guilt, and the yearning of forgiveness and redemption. How that ties into the Cotai and the so-called plant life theme that is seemingly in every X and Empyre book is told in fine fashion. We get maps and introductions to characters and their powers etc… We also get some “laugh out loud” humor. Seriously! More than once! Even the issue title is funny. And the amended issue title that shows up later! After the first half of the book though, things come to a bit of a roadblock. A roadblock built out of words. LOTS of words.
Words can be good, or not, depending on the writer. I’m not sure who wrote this second half of the book, but I’d guess Tini did. This isn’t meant as a criticism of Tini per se. Just that I, among many many others, find her writing extremely confusing. Perhaps the extra words were meant to make things less confusing. Angel says at one point that “mutants love meetings”. Well, unfortunately, these meetings are boring and seriously bog down what had been up to this point a spectacular issue! We also get some cringe-worthy “trashy” jokes and some jokes that just miss the mark. Completely. Magik comparing her soul sword to a weed whacker. Really?? I NEED to see that as a variant cover!! And while I’d checked the page count many times by this time, it is not without merit. Charles finally lets on that while the premise of Krakoa is a novel one, it presents its own set of very dangerous possibilities, and he’s going about making sure that the best interests of Krakoa and mutant-kind, in general, are being looked out for. Wether Angel and company like it, or not.
I do have a couple of minor gripes as to the structure and layout of the issue in itself. I try to be as positive as possible, but they deserve mention. Do we really need 5 pages of title pages/info dump/roster recap pages?? The extra dollar for extra pages doesn’t really work for me if there are that many pages with no art or story. That’s just me though, perhaps.
The other is the roster page in itself. Not everyone is an X-Men “Xpert”. See what I did there?? If a mutant goes by multiple names in the book, both names should be on the roster page in my opinion. Not doing so can create some confusion and multiple trips to google. Reading these books can be a chore unto itself occasionally, and having to do research just to find out who’s who doesn’t enhance the experience at all by any means.
What does enhance the experience is good art! The art and colors are done in a way that clearly defines locations which I appreciate. And Marvel always looking ahead to their next event have prominently put Magik with her SWORD on both covers. This is the variant by Esad Ribic
While the first half of this book is far better than the second, it’s still well worth picking up. Whether you’re in it for the X-men, Empyre, or both, it’s worth your money for sure! And while it does get bogged down in its own wordiness, the good far outweighs the bad. Plus we do get some actual progression in the story as far the X-books. What has felt like being on a runaway train at times now feels like a more focused book. And I’m SO down for that!