‘Empyre’ #4 Spoiler Session: Beloved Super Heroes Unite
A union emerges as a series of betrayals rock the Avengers and the Fantastic Four!
Warning! This article contains spoilers for EMPYRE #4, so read on at your own risk, True Believers!
Betrayal and treason are almost always the inevitable outcomes for any empire. This has already been proven to be true for the newly formed alliance between the Kree and the Skrulls, as well as the Cotati’s Empyrean. In this week’s EMPYRE #4, Al Ewing, Dan Slott, and artist Valerio Schiti have laid bare the deceptions at the heart of the series. Now, one of Earth’s heroes is dead and another is missing in action.
Last week, EMPYRE #3 revealed that the Kree warrior, Tanalth the Pursuer, was actually R'Klll, the former empress of the Skrulls. R'Klll is also Emperor Hulkling’s grandmother, who seemingly perished years ago during the destruction of the Skrull homeworld. R'Klll promised her Kree collaborator, Captain Glory, that she had a plan to deal with her grandson. The implication in this issue is that R'Klll has assumed Hulkling’s form and seized control of the Alliance.
The switch took place off-panel, but the change in Hulkling was readily apparent when he endorsed the plan to destroy Earth’s sun in a bid to halt the Cotati advance. Captain Marvel and Human Torch were suitably horrified, especially when the Universal Weapon seemingly confirmed that Hulkling wasn’t an impostor. But keep in mind that R'Klll has already demonstrated an ability to fool Kree and Skrull sensors. That doesn’t mean Hulkling has lost himself, but it does raise the question of what happened to him between issues #3 and #4.
Hulkling’s boyfriend, Wiccan, was quickly able to confirm that the Hulkling who endorsed Earth’s destruction was not the real deal. And who would know Hulkling better than his husband? That’s right, the two Young Avengers co-founders have tied the knot in the big Marvel wedding tradition!
It’s a heartwarming moment in the midst of a brutal conflict, and a glimmer of hope for the characters created by writer Allan Heinberg and artist Jim Cheung. Since they burst onto the scene in 2005 in YOUNG AVENGERS, the two have been major players in the Marvel Universe.
Marvel.com checked in with Heinberg to hear his thoughts on the happy occasion:
“I’m eternally grateful to writers Al Ewing and Dan Slott, artists Valerio Schiti and Marte Gracia, editor Tom Brevoort—and of course cover artist Jim Cheung—for telling Teddy’s story so gorgeously, on such an epic scale and with so much heart,” said Heinberg. “AND for inviting me and Jim to the wedding!”
A more alarming event took place under our collective noses in EMPYRE #1. It seemed like a miracle when the Cotati-possessed Swordsman managed to restore She-Hulk to her previous stable persona. Tragically, issue #4 exposed the truth behind Swordsman’s cure – Jennifer Walters was murdered and her body has been co-opted by the Cotati. Jen’s green skin allowed them to hide their crime as they took her Hulk powers for themselves. In retrospect, Thor may have sensed the truth back in issue #1. There was a moment when he seemed genuinely troubled by Jen’s transformation. Now we know why.
However, hope is far from lost. Jen’s cousin, Bruce Banner, has been notoriously difficult to kill. That’s why he’s the Immortal Hulk! Jen is resilient, and she also survived a near death experience in CIVIL WAR #2. That trauma may pale in comparison to what the Cotati have done – but if there’s any hero who can come back from this, it’s Jennifer Walters.
Sadly, the same can’t be said for Quoi. Even an emotional appeal from Mantis couldn’t convince her son to stand down. The Celestial Messiah now stands at the point of no return, as he and Swordsman left the Invisible Woman, Thing, and Mantis at the mercy of the possessed She-Hulk.
Now, the heroes just have to find Hulkling before his grandmother destroys the entire solar system.
Hulkling and Wiccan's story continues in EMPYRE #5, arriving on Wednesday, August 12, and EMPYRE: AVENGERS AFTERMATH #1 this September!
You can pick up EMPYRE #4, written by Al Ewing and Dan Slott with art by Valerio Schiti, at your favorite local comic book shop or digitally today! Be sure to ask your local comic book shop about their current business policies to observe social distancing or other services they may offer, including holding or creating pull lists, curbside pick-ups, special deliveries and other options to accommodate. Find and support your local comic book shop at http://comicshoplocator.com or by visiting http://marvel.com/lovecomicshops.
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