Written by: Mark Waid
Art by: Ransom Barry Kitson (penciller), James Pascoe (inker), Alex Blayaert & Chris Sotomayor (colourists)
Empire Vol.1 collects the first seven issues of Mark Waid and Barry Kitson’s superhero epic and I’m pleased to say that it is pretty much perfect. I read the entirety of it in one sitting because I couldn’t put it down—it is that damn good. Empire tells the story of a world where the villains won the fight between good and evil; Golgoth is a superior despot that has managed to take over the world—ironing out the final pockets of resistance and finalising his plan to earn complete control of Earth with the help of his vast array of ‘ministers.’ With victory in his sights, it is the hostility and corruption in his own ranks that is causing him the most problems and with these liars, traitors and rogues in his mist, Golgoth must decide who to trust and who to kill if he wants to keep full control of everything he has fought so hard for.
There is no denying that it shares similarities with Watchmen—not in story but more in the dark tone and human connections the characters share with each other. It is clear that Mark Waid has put a lot of time and effort into writing intricate relationships for these villains—especially Golgoth, who not only has to keep his own people in order but his teenage daughter, Delfi. I found this notion of a supervillain with a daughter unique; it gives this evil being a heart and at times you identify with him and his decisions—even though he is a full-blown psychopath—which makes you feel awkward and uneasy all the way through. The focus is spread evenly through the supporting characters as well and there isn’t really anyone who feels insignificant; I found myself thoroughly entertained by all of them and each one had something distinctively fascinating about them—whether in their personality or their powers, I was intrigued and it never went away. As for the story itself, you feel completely engrossed from start to finish. The pace remains at the perfect speed and nothing feels rushed; from the deep conversations to the explosive action, Mark moves the plot along smoothly, giving us the upmost respect as a reader to understand what is happening without labouring a point. The dialogue is crafted superbly—giving the plot and characters depth with flawless grace. Alan Moore had a history of giving great amounts of detail in the conversations between his characters and Mark seems to have taken this ethos with Empire. Some of the greatest moments are in the quieter moments, such as when Golgoth is conversing with his daughter and the fallen hero, Endymion (which is one of the best moments in ANY comic for me).
The artwork is stunning. There is so much detail in the Empire’s base of operation—the Citadel feels alive and each area of the city is varied and distinguishable in its own right. Golgoth stands out as a great villain that doesn’t compare to anyone out there already; the blue, yellow and red works well and helps him to stand out and have a similar presence to Darth Vader whenever he emerges. The panels throughout keep you alive and excited; every one of them is full to the brim with colour and the variety is breath-taking—it is rare to see such a range that never gives up throughout.
Empire Vol. 1 is a great read. The story is thrilling with a real emotional backbone. I can’t talk about some of the revelations later in the volume but they are phenomenal and I never saw any of them coming—hopefully neither you do. Buy it, read it and get ready for the next chapter of Golgoth and the ministers’ story. You won’t be disappointed, I promise.