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‘Empress #3:’ Advance Comic Book Review

“..send someone to find us. We’re in Saskatchewan…Movin’ right along.”

Yeah, I’m a little hung up on The Muppets‘ cancellation, but it felt pretty right considering where Mark Millar’s Empress has us going in Issue #3 – which is pretty much everywhere.  Continuing the breakneck pace, our runaways (willing and non) find themselves bouncing from planet to planet in a huge galaxy that seems willing to kill them at just about every opportunity.  We do get a little downtime between catastrophes, and I’m hoping that the final statement of the issue is about dangling a hyperbole cliffhanger gag on us in the beginning of the next issue.

Millar is keeping anyone from getting comfortable, especially not his protagonists.  What drives the story as much as the action is the stellar cast of characters he’s assembled.  Emporia gives everything for her children, and as a recent father watching my wife and son interact, I know that he’s 100% on the money with his depiction.  Tor has become more than the comedic character but still manages to relieve the tension (which he seems to create), and I’m happy to say that his stature is not the main focus.  We do get a little more time with Morax, and though we already knew that he was “big, bad evil,” we get to see him a little more hands on this time, as well as delivering some baddie “this is why I’m good for things” lines which are appropriately terrifying in their logic. He actually makes a good case for the overall effect he’s had on the galaxy, and it’s possible to find yourself sympathizing a little bit with him before he gets all Mountain and Mother of Dragons on his minions. (Methinks Mr. Millar is excited for the season to be back.) I like that Millar is not letting galaxy hopping be easy, which is often how these sorts of stories tend to work. Instead, every move seems a little less planned than the last, and we see what kind of difficulty teleportation would actually cause.  Let’s just say that Doc Brown would be worried about the lack of fourth dimensional thinking going on.  My favorite part of this issue is the pause in the action, where we get to see Emporia taking time with her youngest and oldest, being Mom, and letting us get a sense of the inner struggle that she’s been dealing with.

I think that scene works so well partially because of the absolutely pitch-perfect work by Stuart Immonen; he captures a very believable aspect to it all, and it’s wonderfully juxtaposed from all of the mind-bending action surrounding this little eddy of peace.  He intentionally doesn’t give us any headway on interactions with Emporia while she’s feeding Puck, even to the point where her reactions aren’t easily readable to us, but her entire focus is on her son.  This is a stylistic choice that resonates with the theme and reinforces everything she’s saying to her daughter, and it works to an amazing degree.  Of course, the grand splash pages make their beautiful presence felt, and the dynamic compositions excite the eye while pulling you to the edge of your seat.

Again, I’m drawn to how well the styles of the creators complement one another, with the work fading into the whole of the story in a seamless blend, making for a book that even a critical eye can fall into without immediately pulling it apart.  This grand adventure takes the pulp sci-fi of the ’50s and makes it new again, with a compelling story, deep characters, and enough spectacle to make even Lucas happy.  Today is the final order cutoff for pre-orders at your local comic book store, so be sure to get this title on your pull list. It’s one you don’t want to miss.

Erik Cheski, Fanbase Press Contributor



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