'Empyre': How 'Fantastic Four' and 'Avengers' set up a major Marvel Comics crossover event
While it might seem as though 'Empyre' is an event that's come out of nowhere, Marvel has put a lot of work into explaining just how the premise has been cooking up in the background of space for decades' worth of comic book history - and it's all finally coming together for what might have been the greatest war ever to come to Earth. With 'Empyre: Avengers' and 'Empyre: Fantastic Four' both releasing their zero-issues this month, all the pieces on this cosmic board have been set up, and we take a look at both issues and just what they mean for the series ahead.
As seen in 'Road to Empyre: The Kree/Skrull War' #1, the plant-like Cotati were the true first victims of the conflict between the Skrull. The Avengers travel to the moon to discover that the Blue Area of the moon has been changed to a green one — one where the Cotati have chosen to settle themselves. Doing so, however, appears to have put the Earth in immediate peril.
A resurrected Swordsman — once a human Avenger, who died and was resurrected as a Cotati — recounts the events of the Celestial Madonna Saga, where the Swordsman and Mantis had a child together, one meant to rid the world of evil. Sequoia — or Quoi, as he is known to his friends — is now fully grown and ready to take on his destiny. He and Swordsman believe, however, that the Kree and the Skrull have united to hunt down and eradicate the Cotati — the Kree holding on to a millennia-old racial hatred and the Skrulls seeking to eradicate the mistake their ancestors made in allowing the Cotati to live.
While Captain Marvel reminds the Avengers of the events of 'Incoming,' where a Kree and Skrull agent warn the Avengers to "beware the trees", Iron Man has had a moment of faith and believes in Quois destiny. He believes the Green Area of the moon is worth defending, putting him at odds with the massive Kree/Skrull Empyre — and as the end of the issue implies, the Fantastic Four.
Remnants of the Kree-Skrull War
The Cotati believe that the Kree and the Skrull may have united under the half-Skrull, half-Kree Earth hero named Teddy Altman a former member of the Young Avengers, but that the real power is behind the throne, and that Teddy is being manipulated by his Kree and Skrull advisors. Either way, the Krees and the Skrulls have been united — mostly.
Meanwhile, a seemingly random turn of events sees the Fantastic Four come up against the last remnants of the war - two children of each empire who have been genetically bred by the Profiteer to fight each other, over and over, while others gamble on their outcomes. The Fantastic Four managed to rescue the children — the Skrull N'Kalla and the Kree Jo-Venn — and are taking them to Earth. That's where they discover the Kree/Skrull army, hovering over Earth, all but ready to attack.
Will the Fantastic Four fight the Avengers?
It wouldn't be the first time superheroes have gone to war over a misunderstanding — and both superhero teams have been given very different sides of the story. The Avengers have fought against both the Kree and the Skrull before, and are ready to defend the Cotati from the Empyre at their gates. While the Kree and the Skrull have both served as villains time and time again, it does feel like the Cotati are not giving the Avengers the full story — especially given that Teddy Altman is unlikey to attack the Earth no matter how manipulative his advisors may be.
The Fantastic Four, with N'Kalla and Jo-Venn in tow, are much more likely to have an in with Teddy's Empyre — meaning that we're about to see the story from the Kree/Skrull side of things. Whether or not they're there to eradicate the Cotati, it seems like conflict is inevitable, and when the battle starts, the FF will go in with the facts they understand - meaning that conflict with the Avengers is more than likely.
Once Empyre begins, there are several very important questions that need answering. What led Teddy to leave Earth and unite the Kree and the Skrull in the first place? Is he being manipulated, and if so, what is the true goal of the Empyre he now rules? Is the Kree/Skrull Empyre truly seeking to eradicate the Cotati, or are they attempting to finally conquer the Earth once and for all, as they've tried to do separately so many times in the past? Additionally, N'Kalla and Jo-Venn appear to have an important part to play in the series ahead — the question is, how?
In the meanwhile, it's worth asking if the Cotati can be trusted themselves. The Avengers have been told to "beware the trees" ever since 'Incoming' #1, and that implies the Cotati more than anyone else. What's more, Quoi seems to be assured that he will eradicate all evil in the universe. He seems confident that he will be able to do this, despite not sharing how — and that's a red flag. A move that big requires a massive amount of power, akin to reality warping artifacts like the Cosmic Cube or the Infinity Gauntlet — both items typically wielded by the Marvel Universe's worst villains. It seems likely that the Avengers are being manipulated, but the question arises again — to what end?
'Empyre' #1 releases on July 15, wherever comics are sold.