In Review: Empress #7

Highest possible recommendation of the week!

The covers: This final issue has three covers for fans to capture before they disappear. The Main cover is by Stuart Immonen & Wade von Grawbadger with color by Ive Svorcina. Against the background of space, Emporia’s worried face contains images of Dane battling Morax and a spaceship against two suns. It’s a great tease, with Immonen and von Grawbadger doing a super job on the illustration and Svorcina giving it a great glow. The Main Cover Pencil Variant shows the Main cover, but minus von Grawbader and Svorcina’s contributions. This is the cover to get if one is a fan of Immonen’s work. The Variant cover is a stunner, with Valeria and one of her assistants against an ivory colored background that showcases a circular star chart. This is gorgeously reminiscent of the 1920’s with Valeria’s pose and clothes, as well as the coloring. The line work was done by Immonen and the digital paints were by Dave McCaig. Just beautiful! Overall grades: Main A, Main Cover Pencil Variant A, and Variant A+ 

The story: In Valeria’s house, Dane rises from the bed he’s sharing with the Empress to pull a pistol on intruders. It’s Ship and Tor along with Adam carrying Puck. The small ally says, “She’s disappeared.” The “She” is Emporia’s sister. The two get out of bed and dress, with the title character trying to raise her sister on the phone. As they make their way to exit the house, they find Valeria, accompanied by several companions, all bearing guns. The “evil” sister makes a revelation, followed by the fact that she’s sold her out to her husband, Morax. Tor screams at Ship to beam them anywhere, but another character’s action prevents the machine from assisting. This event was surprising to me, I didn’t think writer Mark Millar had it in him to do “that” on Page 4. In fact, he places the protagonists of this series in an absolute no-win situation. The tension increases on every page, until Page 9’s explosive revelation that’s utterly fantastic. Just as the heroes and readers get a moment to bask in the moment, Millar takes the story in a deadly direction with a character’s actions on 13. Morax is a wonderfully frightening character, and his every word is deliciously deadly. The book’s final confrontation is scream worthy. I’m so happy that this ending has been telegraphed in every issue that proceeded this installment, and Millar returns to those moments to show the reader what they were. As if the final battle wasn’t enough, one character makes a complete 180 degree turn and acts as coldly as Morax, and it will have the reader screaming again. The final three pages are the perfect coda for this first “Book”, yet Millar dangles an outstanding tease for more to come. I loved this ending. Overall grade: A+

The art: It cannot be said enough: Stuart Immonen on pencils and Wade von Grawbadger on inks are a fantastic team. The book has a classic epic look on every page, beginning with Dane and Emporia in bed. The second panel on the first page has a partially clad Dane rising out of his bed, sporting a terrific sci-fi pistol. His hair is waving about from the speed from which he’s risen, and he looks like a god. The slight touches of science fiction, Ship and the men’s guns, gently place this in a time unlike the present, and the massive stairs the heroes rush down increase the epic scale. The number of characters in the first panel on Page 6 increases the tension excellently. Without the dialogue, a reader could follow the basic plot, given how well both artists give emotion to the cast, with Tor and Valeria being early scene stealers. The final setting is gorgeous. It’s shown spectacularly on a half double-paged spread, Pages 15 and 16. Morax’s entrance is excellent, and his battle with Dane thrilling. The action shown on 27 is jaw-dropping in its reveal and execution; my face mirrored that of the characters on top of 28. Every punch and kick that followed made me roar in pleasure, for it is indeed epic. Every page and every panel is beautiful. Overall grade: A+

The colors: The colors of this book increase the emotion of every panel. Look at the bright colors used to show the quiet love between the two characters on Page 1. When this moment is disturbed in the second panel, darker colors are employed to show the shift in tone. The final panel on the page is even darker, barely revealing what’s hidden in the darkness. The colors of the individuals assisting Valeria are cool blue, giving them an emotionless calm that belies their drawn weapons. The shocking actions on 4 are bright yellow and orange, making them spectacularly explosive. Ive Svorcina & Sunny Gho do amazing work on every page, with highlights being on 11, 12, 20 (love those characters’ entrance!), the crimson on 27, and the beautiful oranges on 40. Perfection. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Scene settings and dialogue (the same font), yells, a key sound, and the final four words of this series are created by Peter Doherty. I enjoy seeing a different font employed for the scene settings and dialogue, but the colorists differentiate if from the characters’ dialogue. I also would have liked to have seen more sounds in this book, as there are several opportunities for some fun ones, but it wasn’t Doherty’s decision to exclude them. What he does is good, but I wish he would have been allowed to do more. Overall grade: B+

The final line: A spectacular conclusion for a spectacular series. My highest possible recommendation of the week. The next adventures cannot come soon enough. Overall grade: A

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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