You have to hand it to Mark Millar – the dude never seems to run out of cool ideas. And Empress #1 is no exception. Set 65 million years ago on Earth – or “Er” as the inhabitants refer to it – Empress #1 is the beginning of what looks to be an epic sci-fi saga about the people who lived on and ruled Earth before us.
The issue hits the ground running as we follow the Empress of Er who, with the help of her loyal gun-slingin’ guard Captain Dane Havelok, has decided to grab her children and get the heck out of Dodge. Why, you ask? Because King Morax, her husband and heavy-handed ruler of Er (and, probably, the galaxy), is insane. Just look at the panel below–King Morax feeds a bunch of slaves to a dinosaur and dedicates it to his wife:
Stuart Immonen’s awesome art gives Millar’s ridiculous idea a super cool Star Wars vibe, which is fitting because Star Wars is what comes to mind most when reading Empress #1: cool starships and aliens abound, laser gun battles whiz across the panels, and the whole plot feels like the kind of Saturday morning serial George Lucas would have pilfered for his saga. Perhaps the most Star Wars thing about Empress #1 are the two male leads of the comic, Captain Havelok and King Morax. Havelok comes across as a mutt-like Han Solo meets Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Morax has serious Emperor Palpatine/Darth Vader vibes.
Don’t misunderstand: Empress is wholly its own thing, and a Mark Millar thing at that. Even though it wears its influences lovingly and obviously on its sleeve, it isn’t just a crappy riff. It’s a fun and enjoyable romp, and one this reader will definitely be following with great interest.
TO BUY OR NOT TO BUY: Definitely a BUY if you’re looking for a fresh sci-fi pulp adventure a la Star Wars or are wanting something other than superheroes. Four Stars.