There are many aspects of Krakoa and how the island nation runs that are still a bit of a mystery a year into the Dawn of X era. However, Empyre: X-Men #1 brings one of those bits into a direct collision course of one of House of X’s biggest unresolved plot points.
The X-writers have a lot of fun with this series, playing with the event tie-in in a round robin format. Up first is Jonathan Hickman and Tini Howard, with art by Matteo Buffagni and Nolan Woodard and letters and design by Clayton Cowles and Tom Muller.
Wanda Maximoff seeks atonement for one of her greatest sins- M-Day. However, her quest leads her to a most unexpected way to atone. Months later, the Cotati arrive on Genosha to stage their invasion of Wakanda. However, what they find is not only completely unexpected, but will also challenge the team of X-Men sent to investigate in the most horrifying way.
That summary sounds pretty somber, doesn’t it? Outside of the opening scene with the Scarlet Witch, this issue is anything but somber. This is a lighthearted and very funny adventure, full of fantastic character dynamics and some great bits of mythology. It’s not often that a title reveal is as good a page turn as a splash page, but this one is executed perfectly.
Hickman and Howard are a fantastic combination here. I don’t know how they collaborated on the issue as I can see bits of both of their style through the entire issue, but it’s a great fit. I also love that two of their three main characters are X-Men mainstays who have barely gotten a spotlight in the Dawn of X. Angel and Monet give the story a fresh feel that I don’t think it would have with someone like Cyclops or Wolverine as the leads, and the dynamic and interplay between them is written so well.
Buffagni was an unexpected delight in his work here. His figures are a bit rougher and more angular, but his line has a softness that makes even zombies relatable. His layouts are continually engaging, playing with perspective and panel placement to keep the story flowing. Woodard’s colors use most earth tones to match the idea of the plant-life invading, using bright color primarily to draw the eye to a particular moment.
I went into this issue expecting a tie-in that might be a little better than average. I was pleasantly surprised to find a really entertaining adventure, with some key pieces of Dawn of X mythology.
Empyre: X-Men #1 is available now from Marvel Comics.