By Mark Millar, Stuart Immonen, Wade von Grawbadger & Ive Svorcina
Mark Millar finally returns to Marvel (or rather, their Icon imprint) which published the title that launched Millarworld, Kick-Ass. With this new comic, Millar returns to space (read Starlight) with Empress, where the regal Queen Emporia risks everything to escape her ominous and oppressive husband, King Morax. Honestly, that’s really all one needs to know going in because that’s basically all the issue is.
Obviously, there are a couple beats within the book that don’t pertain to Emporia’s escape, but they’re only around two pages. The flashback of when Morax and Emporia met was well placed and very intriguing. It builds a grounded tapestry for the characters. Millar doesn’t waste any time with the plot and throws readers right into the thick of it with little exposition. In all honesty though, the setting, specifically the time period, for Morax’s kingdom is a bit of stretch even for science fiction, so he probably chose the best course of execution for the story.
Despite the lack of depth in the plot, some very provocative seeds are planted that will most likely hook readers for the follow-up issues, myself included. Millar writes sharp narration and dialogue, there is no question of that, but some of the elements of the story are reminiscent of other popular current comics in the same genre. It would be fine if he were paying tribute to an influential work personal to him such as Starlight, but this is the person who wrote something as original and heartfelt Superman: Red Son. Millar is capable of a much more intricate tales and perhaps the later issues will provide the audience with the much needed originality and depth.
The latest all-star artist added to Millarworld, Stuart Immonen, brings incredible detail and ingenuity to the design of Empress. This is my introduction to his artwork and style (shame on me, I know) and I was extremely impressed. He has a clear command over character facial expressions and body gestures and isn’t afraid to use close-up panels, even when juxtaposed against stunning full-page shots. The inking by Wade von Grawbadger accentuates the work so well and allows all the details said expressions to really pop when the page is completed. With the color work of Ive Svorcina, the comic really comes to life. Svorcina also collaborated on Mark Millar’s other space opera comic, so he’s no stranger to this type of material. The color choices made for characters and creatures are nothing short of bold. There is an awesome blue T-Rex…that is all I’ll say. Also, the choice to make Morax’s body red is genius. He channels Hellboy and Thanos all in one form. The artwork truly sells and saves this comic!
This may have been a fairly bare-bones premiere issue, but Millar allows for many avenues to traverse in this world, set ages in the past. It’s worth picking up for the marvelous artwork alone. For readers who love this genre, this is a no-brainer. Basically, don’t go in with the expectations of an in-depth, thought-provoking comic, but expect a solid thrill ride.