Saturday, March 11, 2017

Review EMPRESS #1

MARVEL COMICS/Icon – @Marvel

[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

WRITER: Mark Millar – @mrmarkmillar
PENCILS: Stuart Immonen
INKS: Wade von Grawbadger
COLORS: Ive Svorcina
LETTERS: Peter Doherty
COVER: Stuart Immonen and Wade von Grawbadger with Dave McCaig
VARIANT COVERS: Stuart Immonen; Stuart Immonen with Dave McCaig; Skottie Young; Steve McNiven with Ive Scorvina; Sean Gordon Murphy with Marte Gracia
28pp, Color, $3.99 U.S. (June 2016)

Rated T+

Empress is a new comic book series created by writer Mark Millar and artist Stuart Immonen.  The series focuses on the wife of a ruthless galactic conqueror and her bid to escape with their children.  Empress will apparently be comprised of three six-issue story arcs.  Empress is written by Millar, drawn by Immonen (pencils) and Wade von Grawbadger (inks); colored by Ive Svorcina; and lettered by Peter Doherty.

Empress #1 opens on Earth 65 million years ago during the time of Earth's first rulers.  This is a civilization lost to us when people lived in gleaming cities at the same time dinosaurs still existed.  King Morax is the merciless ruler who executes his citizens with impunity.  His wife, Queen Emporia, has seen enough of her husband's monstrous ways.  She plots to take her three children:  a brash teenage daughter, Aine; a bookish 'tween son, Adam; and an infant son, Puck.  Loyal Captain Dane Havelock will pilot their escape ship, but even his skills may not be enough to keep them from the reach of King Morax.

In press interviews to promote Empress, Mark Millar said that he wanted to do a sci-fi comic book that was fun.  He wanted Empress to be more in line with the original Star Wars (1977) and not like Ridley Scott's Alien (1979), a dark and edgy tale that has been influential on modern science fiction films.  And yes, Empress is fun – very fun.

With its dinosaurs, gleaming cities, a merciless ruler, and interstellar travel, Empress recalls Alex Raymond's comic strip, Flash Gordon, and Edgar Rice Burroughs' seminal planetary romance, the Barsoom series (also known as John Carter of Mars).  Both Flash Gordon and John Carter were obviously influential on the space opera, Star Wars, which informs Empress to some extent.

At this early point in the narrative, the characters are largely unknown, but Millar gives us a clear, basic explanation of the lead characters' motivations.  What really thrills at this point is the sparkly art by Immonen, von Grawbadger, and Svorcina.  The graphical storytelling is clean, spectacular though not complex, and, quite frankly, pretty.

So, yeah, I'm recommending Empress.  I enjoyed this first issue more than I did the first issues of other recent Millar comics, Chrononauts and Huck.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

The text is copyright © 2016 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


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