Published on May 8th, 2016 | by Dana Folkard
EMPRESS Issue #2 Review (Millar/Immonen)
Summary: Empress is shaping up to be an epic space fantasy adventure!
Welcome to 65 million years ago. Earth is inhabited by an advanced race of beings that possess grand technologies and live alongside dinosaurs. Intergalactic travel is commonplace and worlds bustling with exotic alien life are in abundance. This is Empress, the new comic from the mind of Mark Millar with art by the dynamic Stuart Immonen. In the previous issue we were introduced to Earth’s tyrannical ruler, King Morax and his wife Queen Emporia. Morax is a cold-blooded dictator who rules his empire with an iron fist. He annihilates his enemies, oppresses his followers and dominates his wife with absolute, unwavering control. Emporia plans to escape from her husband with the help of the very dashing Captain Havelock, her ever-loyal bodyguard. Just from this first issue we could already see that Empress is setting itself up to be an epic space opera of grand proportions. How exciting!
We are launched straight back into the fast-paced action where the first issue left off. Emporia, her children and Captain Havelock are still on the run after their desperate escape from the sinister King Morax. The safest option is for them to travel incognito to the planet where Emporia’s sister lives. Their only hope of bypassing immigration and getting there undetected is by the use of a very rare and powerful transporter. All of this all climaxes with a brazen and cunning plan that is filled with swashbuckling action sequences and edge-of-your-seat intensity. Readers are really drawn into this all-or-nothing escape plan and the survival of a determined woman, trying to protect her beloved children. The tone is tense, time is of the essence and the stakes are high and you can feel it bleeding through the pages.
Acclaimed artist Stuart Immonen has done a great job at creating a very believable and functioning alien society. The alien tech and city that he has designed has a very Blade Runner and Moebius vibe about it. The streets are drenched in torrential rain and fog, which are penetrated only by bright neon signs and video streams. There is a gritty murkiness about it all and you can’t help but feel completely transported into this cosmopolitan alien city, filled with exotic wares and curious creatures. Immonen doesn’t waste any of the page and everything that he draws needs to be there. There is a dynamic fluidity to his art and a real sense of confidence and every panel captivates and looks amazing. It’s also refreshing to see Immonen draw a science fiction landscape, filled with unique and vibrant characters. I also should mention Ive Svorcina’s colouring, as it really drives the overall tone of the alien landscape. Svorcina helps to enhance the otherworldly atmosphere and you really do feel transported to a strange alien world, bathed in neon light. You really do get a sense of infinite variety and this gets me excited for what’s to come!
Already at this early stage, we start to get a grasp of a real sense of depth and scope to the story and the characters. We have been introduced to a fast-paced, action-packed adventure and right at the heart of it all is a story about a toxic relationship and a mother wanting the very best for her children. You really feel for Emporia, as she tries to grapple with the desperate position she is in and the courage she needs to muster in order to deliver her children to safety. Millar has made Emporia very relatable and I find myself caring about the plight of this family and the horrible situation that they are in. So far we have been thrown headfirst into a frenzied adventure, which has taken us trekking across the galaxy at an alarming rate. The jarring action sequences appear rather abruptly and are juxtaposed nicely alongside the tender moments of motherly love and protection. It sometimes feels like when you’re starting to get a feel-good, optimistic vibe from the story, you’re thrown right back into a tumultuous action adventure.
So far Empress has delivered a story that has got my attention and it’s shaping up to be an epic space fantasy adventure. I’m keen to keep reading to see where it takes us and I’m curious about this familiar, yet alien universe that we have been introduced to. I just hope it continues to deliver.
I’m giving it 4 out of 5 stars!
Creative Team: Millar/Immonen
Publisher: Icon Comics
Reviewer: Dana Folkard