Mark Millar and Stuart Immonen take us back to Pre-Human Earth in EMPRESS

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EMPRESS #1

Written by: Mark Millar
Penciled by: Stuart Immonen
Inked by: Wade Von Growbadger
Colored: Ive Svorcina
Lettered by: Peter Doherty

Published by:Icon
Cover Price: $3.99

Warning! This review contains quite a few spoilers!


Empress takes place on Earth, 65 million years ago. King Morax runs a technologically advanced society on Earth before humans evolved there. He rules with an iron fist, executing not only dissenters, but even those who don't work hard enough to stop dissenters. His wife, Queen Emporia, decides that she has had enough of this. She has been plotting with the Captain of the Royal Guard to help her and her children escape. Her eldest daughter still supports her father, but the Queen insists that she has to come along. Obviously, King Morax isn't thrilled by this change in the status quo. He orders her and the children brought back.

Mark Millar continues his streak of terrific series. MPH, Starlight, Chrononauts, and Huck were some of my favorite series over the last few years, and Empress is off to a real strong start too. I loved how quickly everything is laid out for the reader, without ever feeling exposition heavy. Millar is the master of the strong first issue. He builds an entire universe, populates it with compelling characters and stories. In many series, you don't get as much from an entire trade as you do from one of Millar's first issues.

I also like how much characterization you get here. The comic is a fast read, and not particularly exposition or dialogue heavy, but by the end of the issue, you understand exactly who all the players are real quickly and clearly. From the tyrant king to his former stripper wife to the Captain of the guard with his mixed loyalties to the King's daughter who thinks her mother is making a huge mistake here. By the end of this issue, you feel like you have known all these characters for a long time.

One thing I was real curious about is what happened to these one-time rulers of Earth. Going in, I had no idea that this story took place on Earth, 65 million years ago. I just assumed this was going to be some far off alien empire. But instead, Millar sets it very close to home, which leaves the readers with a lot of real compelling questions. This was a nice twist that helped make an already exciting comic feel like something very new.

On top of that, Stuart Immomen's art is stunning, as usual. I've loved Immonen since Superman: Secret Identity. His work always has a lot of detail to it and stands out as being real unique. This "pre-human" Earth as a lot of interesting technology and Immonen manages to create a very alien look at our own world.

When I had read the solicit for EMPRESS, I kind of expected something similar to Mark Waid's EMPIRE. But as usual, Mark Millar puts plenty of new twists into the story. Millar seems very comfortable creating strong new series, especially with terrific first issues. I have been critical of some of Millar's more mainstream work (like Ultimates or Civil War), but when it's creator-owned, he puts out some excellent comics. Usually I can find at least some small thing to complain about in any comic I read, but EMPRESS #1 was pretty close to flawless.

EMPRESS is definitely worth checking out!


Title: EMPRESS #1
Written By: Mark Millar
Art By: Stuart Immonen
Company: Icon
Price: $3.99
Pros:
  • Real well developed characters
  • Terrific setting and story
  • Stuart Immonen's art is gorgeous as always
  • Pretty damn near perfect first issue
Cons:
  • None
Is it worth your $3.99? Yes. Mark Millar has had a string of really good new series over the last few years.  Empress definitely belongs on that list.
Grade: 
5.0 / 5.0