The Avengers betrayed!
The Kree / Skrull Alliance armada crippled!
The Fantastic Four under siege!
The Cotati have shown their true faces and have become the titular Empyre, starting a war not just against their Kree and Skrull enemies, but against all animal based life forms. Now the Avengers must correct their mistake and help the Alliance and the Fantastic Four stop the Cotati before they can dominate the galaxy. Let’s see how they fight back in Empyre #2!
We find our intrepid heroes captured by Sequoia, the Celestial Messiah and the once thought ally of the Avengers. He gives Cap, Iron Man, and Thor a final chance to join him and spend the rest of their natural lives in the garden...or die. The Avengers are still a bit struck by Quoia’s heel turn, with Thor crying out as to why he would do this. He is, after all, an Avengers Baby (in fact the first Avengers baby), but the Avengers only kept in contact with him for a short time. Sure, “Uncle” Thor came by and checked in with him for a bit and Mantis started to raise him but after a while they simply left, leaving him in the hands of his dad, the resurrected part-Cotati, part-human Swordsman. Swordsman teaches young Quoia of how their species was betrayed and almost wiped out of existence because of the Kree and Skrull, how their people need to be avenged, and how they’ll be redeemed through the death of animal based beings.
(Editor’s Note: I wasn’t sure what they were saying when they mentioned Thor’s “visits” but to me it seemed like they were suggesting Mantis and Thor had a “thing” while Swordsman got to play Daddy…)
Meanwhile, right outside the disabled Alliance armada, the space-bound Avengers (Captain Marvel, Black Panther, Ghost Rider, and She-Hulk) try to capture Swordsman but he’s too fast and makes his escape through a plant-based portal device which is very similar to the tech that the X-Men use with Krakoa.
As the Celestial Messiah starts to arrange Cap, Thor, and Iron Man like a shrubbery, Iron Man kicks himself for believing in Quoia. Tony ignored the signs when the Avengers found the dead body of the Skrull Raskor with a tree bursting out of him. Quoia intimidates Tony a bit for all the “Avengers Baby” talk but does confirm that the Cotati killed Raskor, along with a few planets in Kree and Skrull space where Quoia and Swordsman tested their power amplifying death seed. Sequoia explains how the Alliance came into existence in order to stop the Cotati’s plans. Raskor and Bel-Dann were murdered to stop the Alliance, and the Cotati enlisted the Avengers in their fight after Hulkling came to power as Emperor. Sequoia gives the Avengers one last chance to join the Cotati and not die at their hands, but while he was on his super-villain monologue, Thor was able to call out to Mjolnir, freeing himself and his compatriots. Quoia portals out of there and the Avengers decide to regroup on Earth so that they can better fight the Cotati and their killer pant invasion.
Over at the Alliance armada, the remaining Kree and Skrull join with the Fantastic Four to fight off the Cotati infestation on their ships while Reed Richards tries to help rid Ben Grimm of the plants that are attaching to him. Luckily for the ever-loving, blue-eyed Thing, Emperor Hulkling is able to de-weed him with the Sword of Space, a sure-thing magic sword that kills the Cotati dead like pesticide. Seeing the first hand effectiveness of the weapon, Dr. Richards thinks that the heroes can use the weapon to absorb and redistribute its energy. Enter Captain Marvel, whose power is exactly that! To get the energy she doesn’t get to hold the sword or get hit with the energy though. Hulkling plunges the sword into her chest, turning out a large blast of energy that kills all the plants on board as well as Carol for about a couple of minutes. Reed is able to stabilize her and use Tanalth’s accuser hammer as a defibrillator of sorts. The hammer actually belongs to the late Ronan the Accuser (he died in Death of the Inhumans) but Tanalth has been keeping it. She could never harness the full power of the hammer but now it looks like Carol is “worthy” of possessing its power. With a quick okay by Emperor Hulkling Carol is bequeathed the weapon and given a place in the Accuser Corps. We end the issue with a look at Captain Marvel’s new Accuser suit and a tease to what’s coming: the Pyre or the destruction of a world by the hands of Hulkling.
The second entry into Marvel’s big summer blockbuster event Empyre was a worthy continuation of the story and a great reconfiguration of the characters’ roles. It’s great to see the Kree and Skrulls be the good guys while the Cotati were actually the villains of this whole piece. The entire issue is basically a reaction and digestion of what happened in the first issue. We get a little bit of backstory regarding why Sequoia decided to act more like a celestial conqueror and less like the Celestial Messiah. I find it funny that Swordsman’s human nature got Quoia on the vengeance path for his people as it is a bit hypocritical. I suppose that’s what makes it so morally questionable for someone called the Celestial Messiah. We also get to tie up a few strings that started back in Incoming #1. I find it really insightful into the thought behind making the Kree / Skrull Alliance less petty and war-like by making their inception related to the Cotati’s rise and that Sequoia’s machinations spurred the two races to finally call for peace and join together.
While it was good to catch my breath with the story and figure out where to go from here, this issue did feel a lot like a set up for tie-ins. The second the Avengers free themselves they go to Earth and we probably won’t hear a whole lot from them...unless we pick up The Avengers tie-in that also came out this week. They mention how the Cotati portal tech is very similar to the Krakoan portal tech that the mutants use, so we’ll be checking in with the X-Men for that. I did read Empyre: X-Men #1 and all I have to say about that is Alien Planets vs. Mutant Zombies. ‘Nuff said. Finally, while Captain Marvel and her new accuser digs will play some role in the event, it will most likely be fully explored in her solo book.
Overall I enjoyed Empyre #2 as a nice addition to the story so far and a great breather issue before we get down to business. Al Ewing and Dan Slott continue to make a new cosmic epic for the modern Marvel age. Valerio Schiti and Marte Gracia continue to dazzle on art duties. Looking forward to more Empyre!
Verdict: 7.5/10 New Accuser Corps Members
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