Earth is overrun with murderous Cotatis and the mutated terrestrial plant life that they have brought under their control to attack humankind. Skrull and Kree forces are on Earth battling the Cotati. Captain America is rallying the heroes of Earth to defend the planet. Mighty Thor is “on a mythical quest, seeking out powers only a god can access,” about which I’m sure we’ll hear more, but not in this issue. Reed Richards, Mr. Fantastic, needs a shave and a haircut in the worst way. And Iron Man…? Shellhead is having a fit of self-loathing over falling for the trap that Sequoia, “the Celestial Messiah,” set for The Avengers, which touched off this botanical blitzkrieg.
Meanwhile, The Thing is in Wakanda with The Black Panther’s sister, Shuri; The Wasp, and The Ghost Rider, battling the oncoming horde of Cotati there. And Sequoia and the reanimated Swordsman are at Lake Victoria, near the Wakandan border, plotting an assault on Wakanda’s sacred Vibranium mound. At the Palace of Wakanda we find The Invisible Woman, The Black Panther himself, and the less hulking and more articulate She-Hulk, contemplating the mayhem that will befall Earth if the Cotati manage to plant themselves in Vibranium-enriched soil. (It won’t be pretty.) They are there to receive the landing of a new arrival, whose approach to Earth we saw last issue. It is none other than Mantis, whose syntax has changed a bit (she doesn’t call herself “This One” all the time now), and who has come to Earth to try to talk her son out of this germinating Jihad. (There is a little dialogue between her and Sue Richards about what mothers are prepared to do for their children, which illuminates both Sue’s convictions and her compassion.)
Back in space, we find The Human Torch with Captain Marvel aboard the Kree/Skrull Alliance Command Ship. They’re discussing the plan to have C.M. stabbed with The Hulkling’s cosmic/magical sword and juiced up with its power, which she will carry to the Cotati’s Death Blossom and defoliate the enemy completely, much as The Hulkling did to the Cotatis infesting The Thing last issue. However, The Hulkling has another idea. When The Black Panther calls him requesting a loan of the sword, our Young Avenger grants The Panther’s request and teleports the sword to Wakanda, much to the ire of both Captain Marvel and Captain Glory. After a tense discussion of the ramifications of this act, Glory follows Tanalith off the bridge of the ship, where he reveals to her that he knows she is not really a Kree at all, but a masquerading Skrull!
That, however, is nothing compared to the revelation that The Pursuer lays on Captain Glory. She is not just any Skrull. She is none other than Empress R’kll, who has somehow survived the destruction of the Skrull home planet by Galactus in Fantastic Four #257, and has been scheming to unite both the Skrull and Kree Empires under not only the rule of her grandson, The Hulkling—but through him, her own rule! All she has to do is help her grandson to get over this super-hero kick he’s been on. How she will attempt to do that will be a subject for next issue!
Well, I can’t wait to hear the story of how R’kll survived the feeding of Galactus when her daughter Anelle (who slept with Captain Marvel I during the Kree/Skrull War in The Avengers #89-97 and secretly gave birth to The Hulkling) did not. That’s the trouble with implanted continuity. Writers have to play fast and loose with these things to get them to work. I still don’t know how Captain Marvel even had the chance to hook up with Anelle while he was being blackmailed into building an Omni-Wave Projector—and by the way, a new iteration of that technology is supposed to be the McGuffin in The Fantastic Four over the next couple of months. R’kll was last seen holding her daughter while the planet turned to crackling Galactus fodder around them. Anyway, the ending of this ish makes as startling a twist as the surprise attack of the Cotati that kicked off this miniseries. I generally find these cross-continuity events to be ponderous exercises in making fans buy as many comic books of the Marvel line as they can be manipulated into coughing up the money for, but with this one I have to admit they’re getting a bit creative. I wonder what other curveballs we’re going to be thrown before this whole thing is over.
And how about those Cotati, anyway? I remember from the original stories in Steve Englehart’s Avengers that the Cotati were placid, pacifistic plant beings. The introduction of a human element to their species by way of Mantis and what was the body of The Swordsman animated by a Cotati mind was meant to bring about a perfect human of human and plant, a superior being. Well, that’s the trouble with superior beings, isn’t it? They may be so superior that they’re not interested in suffering the existence of anything they consider a lesser form of life! That’s how it goes, I guess. The way to muck anything up is to introduce a human quality to it. Humans at their present state of development are just too darn screwed up!
Before we wrap up, we must really give a shout out to artist Valerio Schiti, whose work continues to improve. I’m seeing a lot of good visual work with the characters here—notwithstanding Reed’s atrocious beard and hair—and that double page spread of The Thing, Shuri, The Wasp, et al plowing into the Cotati is a treat. I hope Valerio continues to keep up the good work.
Empyre continues to move the story along briskly. It seems to be one of the better “events” with which Marvel has occupied its entire publishing line. While it will be a relief when this whole thing is over and we can get back to Marvel Comics just telling stories again—at least until the next all-encompassing “event”—at least this saga is full of twists and turns that make us want to see what happens next.
Empyre #3: The Sinister Life of Plants
Writing - 9/109/10
Storyline - 9/109/10
Art - 9/109/10
Color - 9/109/10
Cover Art - 10/1010/10
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