Writer: Alex Paknadel
Artist: Thomas Nachlik, Marco Menyz, and VC’s Ariana Maher
Cover Price: $4.99
Release Date: August 19, 2020
I have not any bones about it, I think this whole Empyre story is cross-over worthy, but as far as Events go…well, it’s a bit lacking. That said, some of the better issues have been the tie-ins and Alex Paknadel’s Lords of Empyre: Celestial Messiah was one of my favorites. So, I was looking forward to the fun to continue with his Swordsman #1. Did it? Let’s find out…
The problem with the whole Empyre story, for me at least, has been I am just not that interested in the villains, especially the Cotati. It’s not that I hate Quoi or Swordsman, it’s just that we haven’t dealt with them enough to get an excellent feel for them or anything but the surface level motivation of “Meat Bags Bad.” Of course, readers with more prior knowledge may be more in tune with everything, but the main Empyre book seems way more concerned with the Kree/Skrull alliance, Teddy, etc., than the Cotati two (I am calling them that from now on, by the way). That’s why I think I liked the Celestial Messiah one-shot and also why I do like this issue, but with a couple of nitpicks thrown in.
The issue is a father-son road trip to earth where Quoi learns the true barbaric nature of humans, while Swordsman wants to be accepted and loved. He couldn’t find that with the Conclave on Tamal, and when he found himself getting jealous of his son, it was off to earth to fix the sitch.
Along the way, we see how Swordsman got back his sword, the Cotati connection with Alchemax, and a bit of the Cotati tradition and ceremony. We also see a son who loves his father and a father who may not be sane and will do whatever it takes to get what he wants. It frames the relationship well and gives the little we’ve seen in Empyre more of a focus and purpose. Instead of being told it, we see it here, and that is big for me.
The issue ends with Swordsman getting the acceptance he wanted, even if Quoi had to force the issue, and we go off understanding a bit more why the Avengers Baby would do what he has been doing in this Event.
I already said it; I like this issue. I may not like it as much as Celestial Messiah #1, but I think it is more of a timing issue than anything else. We are getting the background of a Big Bad right before the finale. I know that’s not any fault of Alex Paknadel or Thomas Nachlik and was undoubtedly a shutdown issue, but it’s still a bit of a problem. I can get past that, though, and I still enjoyed the story and the art and can recommend it to any reader that wants the Cotati two (!) more fleshed out, even though they would probably kill me over that term.
Alex Paknadel again does a good job giving readers of Empyre a more in-depth look at two of the Event’s villains, and as someone new to the Cotati, I appreciated it. Sure, the release’s timing feels a little off, but the story and art made up for it. If you want to get a peek into the Cotati Swordsman’s mind and see why Quoi would go along with his plan, check this out.