Comics
Published July 22, 2020

How ‘Empyre’ #2 Prepares the Universe for the Pyre

Hulkling and Captain Marvel face life-altering decisions in the second issue of ‘Empyre’!

Warning! This article contains spoilers for EMPYRE #2, so read on at your own risk, True Believers!

A new Empyrean has risen! Al Ewing, Dan Slott, and artist Valerio Schiti kicked off an intergalactic war in last week’s EMPYRE #1. But the true threat to the cosmos wasn’t the newly created alliance between the Kree and Skrull empires. Instead, it was the formerly peaceful Cotati who now stand on the brink of universal conquest.

This week’s EMPYRE #2 shed some light on how the Celestial Messiah, Quoi, became radicalized. Quoi may claim that plantlife is the “true life,” but he is also human on his mother’s side. Mantis and the Cotati-posessed Swordsman were prophesied to have a child who would change the universe. At least part of the prediction has come true, but not in the way anyone expected.

Empyre #2
EMPYRE (2020) #2 cover by Jim Cheung

According to Quoi, it was Swordsman who made him see “animal life” as the enemy of the Cotati. This is ironic, because Quoi could not have been born without the Cotati’s merger with Swordsman. But it does beg the question of how and why Swordsman became so embittered towards non-Cotati. The only hint we have is that Mantis is no longer in the picture for Quoi or Swordsman. There is also the question of the identity of a mysterious space traveler at the beginning of the issue who hid their identity under a helmet while sending a warning to Earth.

Quoi’s condescending offer of “life” in the garden clears up some of the mysteries for the Avengers. Tony Stark AKA Iron Man finally realizes that the Cotati were behind the murders in INCOMING! #1, which paved the way for this war. Quoi’s story also recontextualizes the events of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY ANNUAL #1. Within that issue, the Skrull empire annihilated the Kral System. That was where many Skrulls fully acclimated to the customs and cultures of other races, including humans. Quoi suggests that the system was destroyed to prevent the Cotati’s Death Spore from spreading, rather than simply a convenient way for the Skrulls to eliminate their dissidents.

Empyre #2 interior
EMPYRE (2020) #2

This issue only briefly touches upon the events back on Earth, where the Cotati invasion is already well underway. But the more pressing issue was the devastated Alliance fleet that was literally choked by Cotati’s plants. Emperor Hulkling’s Sword of Space proved to be invaluable, and it clearly has properties that may be magical in nature. Working in concert with Captain Marvel, Hulkling was able to purge the Cotati from the fleet as well as Ben Grimm AKA the Thing. In return for Carol Danvers’ help, the Alliance offered her a chance to become the new Accuser.

THE LIFE OF CAPTAIN MARVEL revealed that Carol’s real name is Car-Ell, and her part-Kree nature has made her life hell in CAPTAIN MARVEL. By accepting the Universal Weapon that once belonged to Ronan the Accuser, Carol has also come to partial terms with her heritage. For the first time, Carol even wears Kree colors in her armor.

Empyre #2
EMPYRE (2020) #2

Carol’s power boost may prove to be very useful in the war against the Cotati. However, Hulkling received a very alarming revelation at the end of the issue. According to Super-Skrull, it’s Hulkling’s place to embrace the power and responsibility of the Pyre. This means that a world must perish at Hulkling’s hands...and the only world in front of him is his adopted planet: Earth.

Will our world be sacrificed to save the universe? EMPYRE #3 may provide some additional answers when it hits stores on Wednesday, July 29!

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