It’s the Ortho Lawn Care company’s worst nightmare come true. It’s worse than John Wyndham’s Day of the Triffids. It’s Little Shop of Horrors—all over the world. What is it? The Flowering of the Cotati!
When we left off, Sequoia, “the Celestial Messiah,” who is a sentient combination of humanoid and botanical life, called a Jihad of plant life against animal life everywhere in the universe to avenge the attempted genocide of the Kree against the Cotati. His first target is Earth and his first victims include our own Fantastic Four and Avengers!
Before anyone can grab a Weed Whacker or a pair of pruning shears, Sequoia has Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man strung up in vines, and Thor in particular is livid at the betrayal of this first “Avengers baby.” (Remember, “Quoi’s” parents are Mantis and the body of The Swordsman inhabited by the consciousness of a Cotati.) But Quoi brings up ancient things that he holds to be betrayals: the Skrulls contaminating the Cotati with the offer of technology, which is a thing of animals, not plants; and the Kree trying to annihilate the Cotati because the Skrulls preferred the plant beings’ use of that “gift.” In reprisal for injustices of animal life against the Cotati, Quoi has been playing a long game of subterfuge and assassination across worlds and galaxies, leading up to the “dream” that Iron Man had back in Empyre #0: Avengers, which brought The Avengers to the “Green Area” of the Moon. It’s all been a set-up for the Flowering. And it might actually have worked—except Sequoia has forgotten one thing. He has mighty Thor trussed up in his villainous vines—but last issue, Thor tossed Mjolnir into the Skrull/Kree flagship, from which it has not yet returned. At the summons of its master, the Hammer Supreme comes flying back, liberating the three Avengers with an epic strike of lightning and crack of thunder!
Sequoia teleports to escape, while from space, The Black Panther radios in to Cap, Goldilocks, and Shellhead the grim news that Earth is being overrun with vicious vegetation. Back out in space, Captain Marvel, with Captain Glory and Tanalith the Pursuer, catches up with The Fantastic Four, all of whom are holding out against the Cotati except for The Thing, who has Cotatis growing out of him like weeds in cracked concrete. Fortunately, that cosmic sword that The Hulkling is now carrying is not merely the symbol of the union of the Skrulls and the Kree; it contains a power that defoliates Bashful Benjamin with one good swipe. And this gives Mr. Fantastic (who is in desperate need of a shave and perhaps a trip to a hairstylist) an idea. If the sword could do that for The Thing, it might just save the day for everyone if the power in it could be distributed widely. That is where Captain Marvel comes in.
While everyone hunkers down under The Invisible Woman’s force field, The Hulkling runs Captain Marvel through with the sword! C.M. takes on the full power conducted by the blade and releases it all in a blast that does for the Skrull/Kree flagship what The Hulkling did for The Thing. The power that the Captain channeled is such that she nearly suffers from heart failure, until Reed defibrillates her with Tanalith’s hammer, which happens to have originally been the Universal Weapon of The FF’s old foe, Ronan the Accuser. Tanalith now offers said weapon to Captain Marvel and invites her to join the Kree Accuser Corps. As the Wizard of Oz might have said, times being what they are, she accepts the position, and grasps the Universal Weapon, which turns her costume green!
With Captain Marvel thus recruited, Tanalith announces “the coming of the Pyre,” in which the Emperor of the unified Skrulls and Kree must “destroy a world!” Anyone care to guess which planet the stunned and shocked Hulkling is going to be called upon to destroy?
To be continued!
Well, I was wondering how they were going to get The Thing out of being turned into a human Chia Pet, and now we know. It’s part of a very rousing second part of Empyre, with a fast-paced and information-packed story and art that serves the plot well. Valerio Schiti’s art style has progressed nicely from when I first saw his work in the recent Marvel 2-in-1. The highlight of the issue is Thor’s thunderous liberation of himself, C.A., and Iron Man from being turned into Sequoia’s gardening project. It’s always a pleasure to see Goldilocks remind us of how truly powerful he is. Thor is usually the “Shane” of the Marvel Universe. You remember the character of Shane (Alan Ladd) in that classic Western film, the gunslinger who was loath to let people see that he was the fastest gun in the West because of the trouble it would cause when people picked fights with him? Thor is kind of like that. He doesn’t usually let us see the full extent of what his powers can do unless it’s really needed, and then, watch out! Sequoia needed to be reminded of whom he was dealing with, and the Son of Odin delivered the goods as only he can.
The opening scene of this issue is intriguing. From out of space comes a ship of someone who reminds his onboard AI that he was born on the “pre-civilized and dangerous” planet Earth, for which he is heading directly. Now who is this, do you suppose? It’s just one page, but it’s obviously the setup for a big reveal and another major plot twist yet to come.
Well, until he gets here, The Fantastic Four and The Avengers are in for a bit of yard work with which the entire inventory of the Home Depot couldn’t possibly help them.
With a crackling script and art that moves everything along, the second issue of Empyre provides twists and complications and good action. This part of the story centers primarily on The Avengers, who have ample opportunity to show why they’re called “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.” The nod to a bit of Fantastic Four history is also welcome. Our heroes seem to have the situation in space mostly in hand—but plenty of trouble still awaits them back on Earth!
Empyre #2: Evil Takes Root
Writing - 9/109/10
Storyline - 8.75/108.8/10
Art - 9/109/10
Color - 9/109/10
Cover Art - 10/1010/10
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