‘Empyre: Fantastic Four’ #0: The Conskipper Review

The Kree-Skrull War storyline holds a special place in the hearts of longtime Marvel fans, as it was one of the first series of comic books that expanded the Marvel Universe and set up material that writers and artists have been using every since.

And since 1971, Marvel has been using the same formula to unite their most popular teams of heroes to battle cosmic level threats to Earth and beyond. In fact, Marvel has had more company wide crossovers in the last thirty years than the combinations a Skrull can morph into, leading some fans to fear the multi-comic events. If you are one of these fans (or a fan that goes all the way back to when Avengers #89 would have cost you 15 cents), you will be pleasantly surprised that Empyre: Fantastic Four #0 (by Dan Slott, Sean Izaakse, and R.B. Silva) provides everything that Marvel fans have always craved: world-building, action, humor, and pathos.

Slott opens the story in a surprisingly mundane place for the team that he has been working on over the last few years, but also one that it is refreshing, with the Fantastic Four stranded in space due to their ship “running out of gas”. This simple set-up is true “less is more” storytelling and it is all the reader needs to become immediately invested, as Slott’s deft use of family dynamics (the most important piece of any FF story) gets the ball rolling towards the inevitable conflict and excitement.

While Marvel’s first family hitches a ride to the nearest inhabitable world, the actions on that world’s arena take center stage and introduce a new Elder of the Universe, The Profiteer. The Elders of the Universe have a long publication history and influence (naturally) on major conflicts and the inclusion of the previously secretive sister of the Grandmaster is an added bonus for long-time fans. This section is where the action heats up, as gladiators representing both the Kree and Skrull battle it out for the benefit of The Profiteer.

The gladiatorial battle scenes is where both Izaakse and Silva shine, as the art captures the frenetic and exciting aspects of the life-or-death struggles, streaming across the page and through the panels, alternating between long screen shots and close-ups like a Marvel version of Super Smash Brothers. Each artist is equally adept at capturing the non-combat scenes, placing the Four (six if you count Val and Franklin) in lush, exotic backgrounds and locales such as an interplanetary casino. The colors really pop throughout the book as well, so Marcio Menyz and Marte Gracia also deserve credit for making the world jump off the page.

As a prelude to this summer’s big event series, Empyre: Fantastic Four #0 does more than whet your appetite for the upcoming cross-over; it also allows fans who haven’t picked up a comic in years to enjoy a classic Fantastic Four story with all of the elements that they remembered from their favorite Marvel era. With callbacks to classic storylines and characters, as well as the introduction of a few who are bound to have an impact on the FF and Marvel Universe in general, Empyre: Fantastic Four #0 is a satisfying experience for those seeking nostalgia and those seeking the jumping-off point for another adventure.

Empyre: Fantastic Four #0 is currently available at your local comic store. If you are seeking more of Slott’s run on Fantastic Four, the first four volumes are also currently available, with volume five (Point of Origin) due out on August 19, 2020.

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