REVIEW: Empyre: X-Men #1 Brings the Weed Whacker

empyre: x-men

The Cotati are on Earth! Worse than that: they’re on Genosha! Somehow this all leads to [Alien] Plants versus [Mutant] Zombies versus Old Ladies, and with a three-way fight like that, we need three writers to review Empyre: X-Men #1!

Empyre: X-Men #1

Matteo Buffagni (artist), VC’s Clayton Cowles (letterer), Jonathan Hickman (writer), Tini Howard (writer), Nolan Woodard (colorist)
Marvel Comics
July 22, 2020

empyre: x-men

First of all: are you reading the main Empyre event?

Rosie Knight: I was not expecting to follow the main Empyre event as just the words “line-wide crossover” make my skin crawl, but I ended up reading Empyre #1 and it was actually a lot of fun, which encouraged me to check out Empyre: X-Men #1, which is by far the wildest entry so far. It’s also a totally fine jumping one point for those who haven’t read anything else. 

Cori McCreery: I read the zero issues and the first issue, but haven’t gotten around to the second and third issue yet. The beginning was real promising though, and I do plan to read them.

Kayleigh Hearn: I am not! I don’t read many Marvel comics outside the X-line these days, especially events. So I was surprised at how substantive Empyre: X-Men #1 is for a dreaded “tie-in” issue, because while it has little to do with Empyre aside from the invasive plant species that is the Cotati, it isn’t disposable. This feels like a significant chapter in the Dawn of X saga.

Empyre: X-Men #1 has a surprise beginning with Scarlet Witch (AKA The Pretender Wanda Maximoff) attempting to raise the dead mutants of Genosha. Of course this doesn’t QUITE go as expected, but what do you think of her stab at redemption?

Rosie: Honestly, I feel like Wanda should have known better lol. This definitely feels like it has a classic monkey’s paw outcome, but I do appreciate her trying to rectify THAT mistake. It does seem like a rather big moment for a tie-in issue though so I feel like it will ultimately have far bigger ramifications than the obvious immediate undead ones. 

Cori: Yeah like Rosie said, she had to know this wasn’t going to go as well as she hoped. The fact that it’s taken her this long to attempt atonement is bad, both in a creative aspect and a character aspect. You committed an effective genocide. That’s not something you ignore for 15 years (probably what, three? Four? In continuity?).

 Kayleigh: This was a shocker! Scarlet Witch as a character has been pretty much dead to me since House of M. Besides the atrocity of M-Day itself, my problem with Scarlet Witch is that she never really seemed sorry for it, especially in books like Uncanny Avengers.  Hell, I once tweeted that she reacts to M-Day outrage from mutants like she’s being called out for old problematic tweets. So this–a genuine, powerful attempt at reversing a great evil that was done to a people she harmed–is what I’ve wanted from Wanda for a long time, and Matteo Buffnagi’s moody, atmospheric artwork carries it wonderfully. But of course it all goes to hell. Damn hex magic!

empyre: x-men #1

Magik! Angel! Penance! This issue also delves into the concept of X-Corp and mutants’ place in the larger world. What are our thoughts on these fan-favorite X-Men in this new status quo?

Rosie: This issue definitely had big early-mid ’00s energy. From X-Corp to Angel in the lead to arboreal Black Tom to Madrox to the Bendis classic House of M story as well as the wider-setup which is a huge Marvel Zombies riff. It’s 2005 all over again, baby! Overall it was a pretty fun throwback which hints at the return of some lesser seen X-action. 

Cori: It makes me pine for the never quite announced but rumored X-Corp book. I love M, Warren and ‘Yana, and they worked together so well. I’m HOPING that X-Corp comes out following X of Swords

Kayleigh: Even if the X-Corp book never materializes, this issue gives us some fun world-building; one year in, the new Krakoan status quo is still expanding in interesting ways. Angel has gone through…a lot…over the last few years, and it’s nice to see him given a clear new direction and using his vast wealth to benefit his chosen family. I guess one (one!) billionaire has rights.

So this was all a set-up for a Plants Vs. Zombies joke, huh? But hey, Hordeculture!

Rosie: I had to give a resigned chuckle at this reveal. It’s ridiculous but so is this whole issue, so honestly go wild I guess. I’m assuming this addition to the event was a reaction to how popular DCeased was, though I have a vague recollection of them announcing a Marvel Zombies reboot, so who knows? Either way I thought it was far more exciting than most random unnecessary tie-ins but I am really interested to see whether or not Wanda’s actions stick. 

Cori: And people say Hickman doesn’t have a sense of humor. I really enjoyed the humor of this issue, including the [alien] plants vs [mutant] zombies aspect. 

Kayleigh: The cut from the “vegetarian” zombies attacking the plant aliens to Monet eating her salad was, dare I say, *chef’s kiss*. There’s a sense of play in this issue from Hickman and Howard, but it’s also clever. Connecting the dots from the Cotati to the Krakoan gates to the eco-fascist Hordeculture ladies is perhaps obvious in retrospect, but reading the issue it was such a great “A-ha!” moment.

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Finally, future issues of Empyre: X-Men will be written by other writers of the X-line: Benjamin Percy, Vita Ayala, etc. Anything you hope to see in the next installment?

Rosie: My kingdom for Vita Ayala on as many X-Books as possible, so I am highly anticipating that eventuality. Also I am a big fan of horror comics so if they lean more into that angle and potentially away from the aliens I would be intrigued. Otherwise the thing I’m most interested in watching come to life are the ramifications of Wanda’s second big mistake. 

Cori: Leah Williams described this as essentially the X-Men version of the DC Challenge, where they’re handing each other the proceeding part of the script sight unseen, and just trying to wildly one-up each other. That’s always a very fun way to tell a story, and will make this unpredictable and wild. 

Kayleigh: Wouldn’t it be a serve if a four-part Empyre event tie-in comic ended up resurrecting the Genoshan mutants for real? Unlikely, but anything seems possible right now. And we might still be waiting for Children of the Atom, but until then, here’s something fun for us to sink our teeth into…you know, like a mutant zombie tearing up a plant alien. See you all for Empyre: X-Men #2!

Kayleigh Hearn

Kayleigh Hearn

Still waiting for her Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters acceptance letter. Bylines also at Deadshirt, Ms-En-Scene, The MNT, PanelxPanel, and Talk Film Society.