Crash Course to ‘Empyre’
5 facts to grab millennia years of history between the Kree and the Skrull. The cosmic event starring the Avengers kicks off on Marvel Unlimited.
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OUR RECOMMENDED ‘ROAD TO EMPYRE’ READING HERE!
Three alien races, three ancient legacies, and one ruling agenda: to win the battle of galactic superiority by war or by peace.
EMPYRE #1 has just dropped on Marvel Unlimited, an epic addition that comes on the heels of another exciting announcement: From today onwards, Marvel Unlimited members will enjoy access to their favorite stories sooner, as early as three months after they hit shelves. That means you can catch up on months of reading, or finish up complete story arcs and events faster than ever before! The EMPYRE event will unfold weekly over the next two months, so join Marvel Unlimited today to follow along.
Starring the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, and the X-Men, EMPYRE marks the beginning of a new dawn for the Kree and the Skrull, two warring alien peoples that have been at each other’s throats since their first fateful meeting—until now.
Here’s the stage for EMPYRE: The Kree and the Skrull are now compatriots in arms, united under “the Alliance.” With a war fleet ready and aimed at Earth, both sides await their orders from their supreme ruler, Emperor Hulkling. A common enemy has driven the Kree and the Skrull towards an accord. The telepathic Cotati have overgrown Earth’s moon in their own bid for cosmic control, and their reach is now spreading across our entire planet.
An Emperor. A Celestial Messiah. Two sons of destiny who are now playing in a brutal, bloody sandbox for the future of their people. Grab more fast facts to set you up for EMPYRE, or try our complete “Road to EMPYRE” list for suggested prelude reading.
1. THE KREE-SKRULL WAR(S): THAT’S BEEN A THING FOR A WHILE
Whether it has been tens of millions of years, close to a billion, or what we call an “epoch,” we do know that the Kree and the Skrull have been mortal enemies since the Skrull’s first expedition on the Kree’s home world of Hala. That encounter is covered in ROAD TO EMPYRE: THE KREE/SKRULL WAR (2020) #1, a contest of might that left the Cotati with the short end of the stick.
One of the most important cosmic events in Marvel canon, the original KREE/SKRULL WAR played out in AVENGERS (1963) #89-97, a colossal struggle starring Kree intelligence agent Captain Marvel, AKA Mar-Vell. Mar-Vell and Rick Jones’ involvement would spare Earth from the wrath of these angry, angry aliens, but a truce was called at a high cost, nearly claiming the Avengers’ reputation.
Years later, more backstory on the KREE/SKRULL WAR’s aftermath was filled in on the pages of NEW AVENGERS: ILLUMINATI (2006). Here, it was revealed that a “diplomacy mission” featuring several of Earth’s key heroes ended in capture and disaster. The Skrulls were able to get the drop on Mister Fantastic, Professor X, Doctor Strange, Namor, Iron Man, and Black Bolt, extracting precious intel that would set the Skrulls up nicely for their next insurrection of Earth. See: 2008’s SECRET INVASION!
2. YOUNG AVENGER HULKLING IS NOW AN EMPEROR-SPACE GOD
Yes, all-around good guy Theodore "Teddy" Altman, AKA Hulking, AKA Emperor Dorrek VIII, is now seated squarely on the throne of the Kree and the Skrull, fulfilling a birthright as unusual as his origin.
As revealed in YOUNG AVENGERS (2005) #9-12, the shapeshifting Hulking is no mutant—he is actually the son of war hero Captain Mar-Vell and Skrull Princess Anelle. This forbidden affair represented everything contrary to their people’s beliefs, yet their love grew in secret. Raised by one of Anelle’s loyal handmaidens on Earth, Teddy had no clue that he was the descendant of a royal lineage, let alone that his existence meant renewed war for two ancient races.
Want to see Hulking’s complete transformation as emperor? Read LORDS OF EMPYRE: EMPEROR HULKLING (2020) #1, hitting Marvel Unlimited next Monday, October 26. '
3. THE COTATI ARE BACK AND THEY MEAN BUSINESS
For those unfamiliar with the Cotati: these onetime pacifist plant people share an intermingled history with the Kree, having evolved on the same home world of Hala. Where the Kree developed into a civilization of warriors, the Cotati grew a garden. Connected to plant life through a telepathic bond, the Cotati sought to cultivate more than war, but were punished by the neighboring Kree for their “inferior” passiveness.
Now, the Cotati seek retribution for their stolen home world by claiming one of their own: Earth. Guided by a messianic figure, the Cotati have leveled an impressive threat against the Kree and the Skrull, coming out of the woodwork to plant seeds of ruin across the stars.
4. THE COTATI’S CELESTIAL MESSIAH IS BOLD
He may be a smart-mouthed tree-kid, but the Cotati’s leader, AKA the Celestial Messiah, is a power player who has Emperor Hulking on high alert. Who exactly is Quoi?
The product of a union between Mantis and a Cotati doppelganger of Avenger Swordsman, Sequoia, “Quoi” for short, first appeared in FANTASTIC FOUR (1961) #325. He went through a bratty teen phase in AVENGERS: CELESTIAL QUEST (2001), where readers learned of his unconventional upbringing on Earth, as well as his role as the “great unifier” of the Cotati. His mother, “Celestial Madonna” Mantis, took every measure to not let this heavy prophecy corrupt her son. In EMPYRE, it appears that nature has overcome nurture, as Quoi is acting out as a tyrannical general, instead of a well-meaning harbinger of peace.
For more of Quoi’s backstory, we recommend EMPYRE: AVENGERS #0, LORDS OF EMPYRE: CELESTIAL MESSIAH (2020) #1, and LORDS OF EMPYRE: SWORDSMAN (2020) #1. The latter of those two will be hitting MU over the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned.
5. BEL-DANN AND RAKSOR: THESE GUYS
Fans of classic cosmic Marvel will recognize Bel-Dann and Raksor, two Easter egg characters that first appeared in UNCANNY X-MEN (1963) #137.
Following the most famous KREE/SKRULL WAR, two soldiers were assigned an eternal mission on the Blue Area of the Moon, to be locked in perpetual conflict as representatives of their entire race. Unable to determine a clear victor after the events of AVENGERS (1963) #97, the Kree’s Supreme Intelligence appointed Bel-Dann as their champion, while Skrull empress R'Klll chose Warlord Raksor.
[RELATED: ‘Empyre’: Who is R'Klll?]
In what could be considered the first show of peace between two empires, Bel-Dann and Raksor upheld their duties with honor, even forging a friendship as guardians to their lunar patch of land.
Unfortunately, the one-shot INCOMING! revealed the painful demise of Bel-Dann and Raksor, a doom and gloom forecast of things to come in EMPYRE.
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