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‘Empress #5:’ Comic Book Review

Who needs a whole seat when just the edge will do?

Mark Millar sets the galaxy on fire once again with the newest issue of Empress.  Having been separated from the children by slavers, Dane, Emporia, and Tor struggle to get out of a tricky situation, while the kids have to look to their own devices to figure a way out of their predicament.  This is the most action-packed issue yet, which is saying something if you’ve been reading the series, and the “Hell Yeah” moments are riddled throughout an issue which best exemplifies what we’ve seen so far.

We’re into the meat of the action from the first panel, and all there is to do is hold on.  Other than some background dialogue from the myriad antagonists, everything that takes place in this issue is the downhill insanity from the setup that’s already been given to us.  We get another moment with King Morax, mostly as a “Hey, remember how evil this guy is?” and to reiterate the reason that our protagonists have been bouncing along the galaxy.  Though the adults handle their situation with the aplomb and jovial snark that we’ve come to expect of them, the main thrust of the action centers on the children being given their own agency for the first time, and it becomes the heart of this issue and what I hope will drive the series going forward.  What I see is Millar giving the kids a chance to become as badass as the older characters, and, hopefully, when everyone joins up again (just guessing, but with hope that it will happen) they’ll make a more interesting whole than just being dragged along.  It’s nice seeing them accept their stake in the proceedings and how carefully the character development as a whole has been laid out.

The action is stellar visually, with crisp and clear panels kicking things into top gear quickly and never letting it drop.  The art team has a fantastic ability to find motion within the stillness of the page, and every moment lands perfectly.  I feel like there’s a Jim Jeffries situation here though, because the new ships that both sets of characters end up in just look like they’re going backward.  This might just be me, but it was enough to drive me a little nuts each time I saw them underway. I always thought that something had gone wrong when they were in normal flight.  It was only jarring to me because everything else I’ve so far encountered in this series had felt so right, and it might have been an intentional choice to break us from expectations a bit, to counter the old “but all of your aliens are bipedal and look like a person in a suit/makeup.”  Or I may just be obsessing.  Regardless, the book looks great as it has every issue, and the continued excellence in that respect make it a joy to page through each month.

This series is really lightning in a bottle. Every time I get to the back cover, I find myself craving more immediately.  There are a ton of action comics out there and plenty of other books with solid characters and great universes, but this one combines every element into a comic that satisfies a need that nothing else quite does.  One of the best sci-fi series going – it’s worth your time to jump in and hang on tight.

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