Writer: Al Ewing, Dan Slott
Artist: Valerio Schiti, Marte Garcia, and VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Price: $4.99
Release Date: August 12, 2020
The penultimate issue of Empyre is upon us, so why am I still looking for the hook that will reel me in? I just haven’t been able to get into this story, especially this main book that seems to only be around for a lot of yakety-yak and the next “surprise” reveal. I was looking forward to this issue after the last issue’s cliffhanger showing the wedding of Hulkling and Wiccan, so I jump in here with high hopes for once. So, how was the issue? Let’s find out…
We open with a flashback to hours before Teddy joined the Kree/Skrull Armada, and we do get a wedding! I was still doubtful and afraid it was a dream or nonsense like that, but it happened! I wish it felt more significant. As this issue continues, it feels more and more like a forced plot device to save time and effort on the characters and the writer’s part.
One of my complaints with this main book has been that everyone talks a good game, but we never get to see much happening. We rarely (a couple of panels at best so far) observe the effects of the Cotati invasion on regular people around the world, so it hasn’t felt as big as Ewing and Slott seem to think it does. I’ve read recent issues of Avengers and Fantastic Four that had me more nervous and on the edge of my seat than anything in Empyre so far, and that’s a shame.
That extends to the heroes involved as well. This should be a no-holds-barred battle royale with all hands on deck, but the main title only deals with a handful of heroes, and the tie-ins don’t make it feel that much bigger either. We get Thing fighting the Cotati She-Hulk, but it’s so quick and generic that there are no residual feelings at all about Jennifer’s death, leading to this and, oddly, hardly even a reference.
This issue feels so rushed to put all the pieces in place for the next issue’s big finale. Wiccan easily can find Teddy (off-panel, by the way) who then blurts out the “big twist” that even I saw coming, only to find out they are too late. While that’s going on, the Cotati get what they want, and I am starting to see that Hulkling giving T’Challa his sword is just another forced bit to set up a “shocking surprise twist” in the finale. Black Panther’s big plan for the Star Sword was to use it to chop Cotati, but it got it away from the other set of bad guys in the meantime.
The issue ends with Earth’s fate resting on Reed and Tony’s shoulders. You know, the guys who have spent the whole event bitching and moaning and feeling sorry for themselves. It’s as if characters are waiting backstage for their cue to come on out, say their lines and hopefully save the day!
This issue puts the pieces of the puzzle together for the big finale. Al Ewing and Dan Slott don’t care if they have to force some of them together along the way, and because of that, I just am not invested in this story. They keep telling me it’s enormous and galaxy threatening, but I don’t feel that reading it. I end up feeling bored. I do like Valerio Schiti’s art, which has been the saving grace to an already forgettable “event.”
Empyre #5 is the penultimate issue to an event that should have been nothing more than an Avengers/Fantastic Four crossover. Al Ewing and Dan Slott have tried to convince readers otherwise, but their big talk can’t hide their little story. We do get a nice bit here for fans of Hulkling and Wiccan, but it felt more like a plot device than something to celebrate, and while I did like Valerio Schiti’s art, I can’t recommend this to anyone.
I am looking forward to the next issue, but only because it’s the last one.