Evil Empire Vol.1 Review

Written by: Max Bemis

Art by: Ransom Getti & Andrea Mutti

Publisher: Boom!

Evil Empire Vol.1 is an intelligent read that looks at the current state of America and employs many of our fears and believes to be the focus point; at its core, Evil Empire Vol. 1 is an epiphany—one that is a hair’s breadth away from becoming a reality.

The future of the country hangs in the balance after the incarceration of a corrupt politician is found guilty of murdering his wife. The comic’s protagonist, Reese, is a female rapper that has very strong feelings about the state of the country and doesn’t shy away from including it in her lyrics. Unfortunately, her words become twisted when the murderous politician, Kenneth Laramy uses them in his address to the country and flips the whole of America on its head, leaving Reese in turmoil and forced to act against the uprising that is almost ready to erupt.

Max Bemis has created a thriller that’s blended with a darkly humorous view of modern America, claiming that a dystopian future doesn’t have to be at the hands of nuclear war or an alien invasion but now—in the hands of a government powered by greed and authority—when America stands at the precipice of revolt. The story gives us a lot in plot and character development. Reese is a woman with a fierce heart and is passionate about her beliefs; she ‘stands by what she writes,’ even if it threatens her own life. As I read through Evil Empire, I really started to care for Reese. In the beginning, I didn’t automatically connect with her but as it progressed, I began to see her for what she was—not an annoyingly opinionated musician but a respectable and strong woman who wants what we all want for our country: peace and democracy, even if it means risking your life in the process. When she gets involved with Sam Duggins, a candidate for US presidency, things begin to get complicated and Reese begins to struggle with her priorities as an activist, role model and a lover. These factors build on Reese’s character and flesh it out, making her more than what she first appeared to be in the beginning. There is a definite comparison to Mark Millar in Max’s style of writing; there are numerous pop culture references and an equally dry wit that serves the story well, all whilst giving us a detailed and developed plot that has a beguiling charm to it.

Without giving anything away, Max takes you in one direction, only to force your jaw to drop, making you slap yourself for being so naïve; twists and turns are fruitful and you can never settle on what you think you know because you’re almost certainly wrong. Along with the story set ‘exactly right now,’ we get a glimpse into the future when an Evil Empire has America in a state of decay; murderers working for the powers that be are roaming the streets and eradicating the one who oppose them: something I found deeply disturbing. The two storylines merge well and towards the end, you start to see the bigger picture and work out that something huge is afoot.

I can’t finish the review without praising the art direction in Evil Empire. A great attention to detail doesn’t go unnoticed; even in the wider panels where there doesn’t need to be so much visual information, we are treated to a wide variety of colours and shading that greatly compliments the story. It is similar in shading and definition to one of my favourite artists of all time, Andy Kubert. Like Andy, both Ransom and Andrea make the most out of every panel and it really is a marvel to behold.

Intelligent, witty and emotive, Evil Empire Vol.1 is one of my favourite comics of the year so far and I will most certainly be getting my hands on the second collection when it is released. Hopefully, the story continues to grow and Reese can recover from the shocking revelations in the final moments of last few pages.