Writer: Dan Slott
Artists: R.B. Silva, Sean Izaakse
Colorists: Marte Gracia, Marcio Menyz
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Artists: Jim Cheung, Guru-eFX
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Publisher: Marvel Entertainment
After months of pandemic-related delays, Marvel’s big Empyre event finally begins next week, and Empyre #0: Fantastic Four seeks to prime readers for the incoming saga. But how successful is it in that regard?
Empyre #0: Fantastic Four is the second of two Empyre preludes (following an Avengers-centric installment a few weeks ago) but essentially stands on its own. When the Fantastic Four crash-land on a casino planet, they’re quickly involved in a high-stakes game with interplanetary implications. In other words, it’s just another ordinary day for Marvel’s First Family.
Whereas the Avengers issue properly signals the imminent conflict of Empyre, Fantastic Four does not, and mostly feels like an unrelated issue of writer Dan Slott’s ongoing F4 run with some cursory references to the Kree/Skrull War to justify being part of the crossover. I could be proven wrong in this assumption once Empyre properly gets going, but I don’t see anything in this issue becoming very relevant in that series.
“Essentiality” in superhero crossover events has become a relevant topic to mention here because it was recently reported that more than a third of Empyre’s planned tie-ins have been culled from the publication schedule, and it’s not clear if they’ll ever be completed and/or released. The comicbook industry has been forced to make some tough calls because of the ongoing pandemic, and, while it’s a shame that so much of Marvel’s plans for Empyre have been ruined in light of recent events, it might be for the better. “Essentiality” is now a key phrase in planning for the Big Two. Side stories are fun, but events can be incredibly expensive for the reader if they feel compelled to follow everything that happens. Accordingly, Empyre #0: Fantastic Four doesn’t really “need” to exist because the Avengers issue succeeded in setting up expectations for what’s to come.
With that being said, there’s some fun to be had here. Artists R.B. Silva and Sean Izaakse are both some of Marvel’s top talent at the moment, and their action-oriented visuals are as good as ever here. There’s an impressive amount of detail on every page, ranging from character work to background shots, while colorists Marte Gracia and Marcio Menyz provide the vibrant palettes you’d expect from a Fantastic Four comic. I have some issues with Slott’s script (which includes a Baby Yoda reference that feels a bit jarring and gratuitous), but The Profiteer, sister of the Grandmaster, is a fun addition to broader Marvel lore. I’d just prefer if the issue as a whole felt more substantive.