As with last week’s Avengers: Empyre #0, this second one-shot prologue to the Empyre crossover core series offers up a clever catch-up from the lips of a character within. This time round, it’s the Profiteer who delivers a monologue that catches readers up with the Kree/Skrull War, that seemed to go on forever in the background of a lot of Marvel books when I was last reading them regularly. And, so it goes here on Casino Cosmico where we witness a gladiatorial showdown in space pitting one Kree against a Skrull, all performed in front of a packed house. And all for more stabilising reasons than you’d initially think. These battles, we learn later, actually have a socio-political role to play too, allegedly.
So, where do the Fanatic Four fit into all this, I hear you ask? Well, running out of fuel in outer space is never a good thing, but being invited to get involved in the Profiteer’s next all-comers-welcome fight can’t be the best idea they can have surely? I mean, what is Mr Fantastic the thinking? Furthermore, why would the biggest brain in the universe not build a vehicle that is self-fuelling, or solar-powered at least?
Whereas last week’s Avengers: Empyre #0 was heavy on action and exposition, Fantastic Four: Empyre #0 is a good refection of the current Fantastic Four comic book, with Dan Slott more interested in the back-and-forths between the loving family that make up this unique team than getting to the action too quickly. It’s this consistent use of light humour sprinkled across any given issue of Fantastic Four that is part of its unique selling point, for me, and prevents even the largest of crisis from becoming too dour and too sombre. But then, Slott has always been one of those writers who happily put the ‘funny’ into funny books. The Fantastic Four done right, and for the first time in a long time.
Not that there isn’t any drama, conflict or sacrifice, even if it all takes place in the Las Vegas of space, with a prize fight too, with only Reed seemingly concerned with the background details that suggest something is very wrong in the universe. He can connect the dots across the galaxies, but he can’t come up with a car that doesn’t run out of fuel?
A lot of the enjoyment in any Fantastic Four adventure is the shared dialogue and mystery solving. But, with The Thing on the team, dialogue will only get you so far before action and a time for clobberin’ becomes the order of the day.
Meanwhile, the real solution to the First Family’s ticket out of Casino Cosmico unfolds quietly to the side of the main action and at the nearest Black Jack table, with a little help from the Invisible Woman who you really would want by your side the next time you plan to visit Vegas.
As with the inclusion of Pepe Larraz on last week’s Avengers’ tie-in, this one-shot will reel in readers with the promise of some sweet, sweet art from R.B. Silva, another Dawn of X addition and another artist that elevates this one-shot fro simply being a cash-in comic.
But, what does it actually add to the upcoming Empyre summer jamboree? Not much, really, other than this being a fun excursion that could easily have been presented in the regular series. But, if you are a Fantastic Four fan, like me, you’ll want to pick this up as a great example of Slott’s run with its mix of family dynamics and operatics, action and comedic misdirection. Classic Slott but not a ‘must-buy’ to enjoy Empyre methinks.
Fantastic Four: Empyre #0 is out now from Marvel