Empire is one comic series that I’ve found to have been acclaimed at times but is under appreciated now. I say this because if you’ve ever wanted an idea of what veered Mark Waid into the ideas of Irredeemable, Incorruptible, and other ideas stretching the genre, look no further than Empire. I remember the first blips of information coming out from this series; a villain takes over the world, now what? That question caught my interest and made me compelled to want to see what Empire would have in store. Once I began to read, I was hooked into this world.
The initial two issues of Empire came out of the short lived Gorilla Comics imprint published by Image Comics in 2000. I remember following these as they came out back in the day and I remember being disappointed when Gorilla Comics ended. And when DC Comics picked Empire up I was extremely happy. I kid you not, I started to cheer in the comic store.
The world of Empire begins with the character Golgoth, our lead who takes over the world. His abilities come from a special suit of armor he created, think along the lines of Doctor Doom kicked up another level. It also follows the “dedicated” group of people behind him, though their dedication lies in how much he can keep an eye on them.
The way the series plays out shows the building blocks that gave us the stories Mark Waid tells today. Once you learn the story behind the Eucharist, the drug that keeps his closest people loyal, you will never forget that twisted discovery. That also helps in making the story that much more layered, because the alliances and connections get much more muddled and twisted as the story goes on. Rule of Empire is never get comfortable with anyone even from the beginning.
When you start to read Empire you will learn to expect the unexpected in more ways than one. Just when you feel you’re at one level with a character, you learn that nothing is quite what it seems. The first issue is especially haunting and sest the tone for the rest of the series. Leading right to the final pages that will leave you with many unforgettable moments. Once you read Empire, you never forget Empire.
I’m happy I got to read this month after month as it was being released. A fun fact about me is I did an art project involving Empire when I was in art school. That’s how much this story managed to engage me. Empire was a major part of my comic reading life during 2003.
I just recently re-read it and Empire still holds up well today. Honestly better than I ever imagined. The dark twists and turns that happen throughout the title still managed to evoke the same reactions I had back then. Sadly Empire is out of print, but don’t give up hope in owning a copy, it’s fairly easy to find. Amazon and Ebay both have copies that are reasonably priced. Keep an eye out, because Empire deserves to be read by every comic fan out there.
Current Status: Trade is out of print but easily available on Ebay and Amazon.com.