‘Empress #4:’ Comic Book Review

Well, that just happened...

Mark Millar's sci-fi shoot-em-up drops another strong shot into our mindholes this month with its fourth issue.  I had expected things to slow down a bit and give us some beats dealing with motherhood and the dangerous world of abusive relationships, but the galaxy as a whole is one hell of a dangerous place, too.  There's a lot more happening than Emporia may have expected being on the run, and the moments of solace have been very short lived, indeed.

So far, the intrepid, little band has managed to keep themselves relatively whole and marginally secure, but this issue will test them in new ways.  Having concocted a plan to use what they find around them to get off the world that Ship can't operate from, they're set upon by forces that don't know or care who they are; they're simply profit.  This series has been about the action of a space opera, hearkening back to the 1950s pulp stories with a new and modern approach, with the expectation that the audience will already have a working knowledge of teleportation and faster-than-light travel, not bogging down the plot with detailed and painfully repetitive explanations.  It's sci-fi that doesn't talk down to its audience, which makes it very exciting and refreshing.

Stuart Immonen has a solid handle on the style that Millar's script is working from and manages to make the future look shiny again.  The feel hearkens back to the old comics and artwork without dulling the modern aesthetic.  His character work is superb, and the expressions and postures are so rich and informative to the reader. There's a magic quality to it that's really beautiful to see, and as per usual there's one big set piece moment that's jaw dropping in its execution, and this one is the most audacious to date.

Whether you're hooked by the incredible action or the art, this is a series that's easy to get lost in.  I look forward to every issue, because there's always going to be a stunning piece of excellence for me to be struck dumb by, and it's all connected with a compelling story that celebrates sci-fi in a wondrous and inventive way.

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