‘Empress #1:’ Advance Comic Book Review

Sci-fi and fantasy stories are well supplied with evil dictators; these guys and gals are usually the worst, giving rise to the heroes that oppose them. (Whether they succeed or not is another story entirely.)  Usually if the big baddie has a spouse, they either present a unified front or the “lesser” is seduced away from the worse of the two by the actions of the hero.  Mark Millar takes a much different route with his new title, Empress.  What if, one day, the consort decided to take their leave on their own accord?  This is the idea that sparks what promises to be a very cool and intelligent space opera; our titular protagonist is clearing out from what seems to be a very, very bad man, taking their children with her.

I’ve long been a fan of Millar’s storytelling. He manages to take old tropes and look at them with fresh eyes, breathing life into tired clichés and making them shine.  Turning the space opera into an examination of a toxic and abusive relationship, Millar explores the courage necessary to leave the most dangerous man in the galaxy, which is only raising the stakes slightly from the reality that any abused partner faces, because that person is exactly that for them.  Hidden within a truly enjoyable story is the reality of that kind of relationship, and within the first few pages we are pretty certain of just how bad a dude the Emperor is as he metes out singular justice on those he would lead.  We’re shown no physical mistreatment of Emporia by King Morax, but the mental domination and games come through all too clearly through the small amount of scenes they’re in together.  Most of the issue is action packed; with exposition in cutaways and on the fly, we are given a great deal of detail in an amazingly short span, and the rest of the time we’re on the edge of our seats.  This will sound odd, but this book really feels like some of the Star Wars prequels, if they had been really good.

Some of that feel comes from Stuart Immonen and the art team. Though the material that I reviewed was not the final art, everything is already spectacular.  Dane, the Empress’ bodyguard, reminds me a lot of McGregor’s Obi-Wan mixed with a bit of Peter Quill.  Emporia is arresting in every panel and is a chameleon of her various sides: mother, wife, badass . . . the list goes on.  Oh, and the beast. There’s a splash page fairly early on that will win you over in a heartbeat, and just after it is when the action really kicks into gear.  I can’t wait to see the final book. There’s so much detail already that I think it’s going to be truly beautiful.

If you need a good, smart, and action-packed adventure, then this is most certainly your book.  Dealing with complex issues at a lightning pace, this intro hits all the right notes for a series that has the potential to be something really special.  There is the promise of a great, big world with characters who are rich and deep. There’s just so much good here that I can’t wait for you all to check it out.

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Last modified on Monday, 31 December 2018 20:12

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