REVIEW: Empress #5 – Whole New Worlds

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Empress kicks butt

Empress #5 by Mark Millar

EMPRESS #5
Written By: Mark Millar
Art By: Stuart Immonen (Pencils), Wade van Grawbadger (Inks) & Ive Scorcina (Colors)
Lettered By: Peter Doherty
Release Date: 8/10/16
Price Tag: $3.99

With only seven issues to tell their story, Millar and Immonen’s Empress moves at breakneck speed. While this is a review of the latest issue specifically, I will break down the plot so far. The first five issues are out now, and they’re easy to consume for anyone who is interested.

Plot:

The action takes place on Earth, but sixty-five million years ago. Queen Emporia ran away from her dictator of a husband, King Morax, with the help of her bodyguard Dane. She left in order to secure a better life for her children: 15-year old Aine, 10-year old Adam and baby Puck.

Emporia's kids search for a way out.

Unfortunately her children were kidnapped by slavers, and she, Dane and their mercenary friend Tor must rescue them. They’ve crashed onto the planet of Nakamoor and need to escape the inhabitants who wish to sacrifice them. The kids aren’t helpless, though. They just might find a creative way out of their predicament… Or get themselves in even more trouble.

Story:

Empress launched right into the action from the start, which makes sense because there’s limited time to tell the tale. And early on, the characters revealed their personalities through their choices. Emporia immediately proves herself willing to do anything for her children, while Dane will do anything for her. We quickly learn Aine is rebellious and suspicious, wanting to stay with her father because she doubts her mother’s motives. We see that Adam is soft but intelligent, ready to leave because he understands his father’s darkness. And we know King Morax himself is cruel, possessive and unconcerned with collateral damage.

King Morax will kill anyone to find his kids

After a strong introduction, though, our heroes lack enough the internal conflict that comes with a more character-driven story. They’re all focused on the same task of escape, and with good reason. This lends itself to the epic nature of the tale, but I wish there was time to go more in-depth. Previous issues have successfully touched on the uneasy truce between Emporia and her daughter. Tor, meanwhile, provides comedic relief with his quips and inability to control newer technology.

This issue, however, spends its pages getting characters out of the frying pan and into the fire. Each scenario they encounter is interesting enough to warrant its own arc, so it’s a shame to see them compressed.

Adam turns his cell into a workshop with mechanical prowess, and Aine demonstrates her fighting skills. But there isn’t room to delve  into what makes them tick, only to watch them overcome obstacles in their path.

Adam has the brains, but Aine's got the brawn

The world Emporia, Dane and Tor land in is rich with storytelling possibilities. The setting reads more like a sampling for the future, though, than a fleshed-out plot.

If there’s one thing Empress does very right, it’s leaving me wanting more. I want to know more about Morax’s Earth, as well as the other planets our heroes have visited. I only hope the concluding chapters get a chance to fulfill that potential.

Art:

Immonen, Grawbadger & Scorcina are a brilliant team and Empress‘s art captivates at every turn. The colors pop out, and the background details enhance the reader’s imagination.

The land of Nakamoor

The art style is especially important because of the bare bones nature of the storytelling. I learn what’s necessary to move the plot forward in the dialogue, but the artwork imbues that plot with history.
A whole new world to discover

The color palette distinguishes one planet from another, even without the helpful captions. I have to say the art is primarily what draws me to series, and makes the world-jumping even more exciting, as Immomen once again proves that he is one of the best.

Verdict:

Empress #5 is a beautiful and creative endeavor. My only complaint is that there’s so much more I want explored. But there is a dense tapestry in place that I think will entice any fan of sci-fi, fantasy and strong women.

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