Max Bemis’ “Evil Empire” #1 accomplishes exactly what a first issue in a series should accomplish. It introduces the main players, sets up vague and mysterious connections, inexplicitly details what conflicts are to come, and drops an atomic bomb on us in the final panels. If you come away from this issue armed with a list of questions, you’re not alone. But it’s that type of enigmatic opener that makes me clamor for the next issue.
WRITTEN BY: Max Bemis
ART BY: Ransom Getty
PUBLISHER: BOOM! Studios
RELEASE: March 5, 2014
We are dropped into some near future society, corrupt and on its way to full-blown evil empire status. Though, in this first issue, none of that is completely articulated. Candidly, it just looks a lot like present-day America. Immoral and fraudulent national leaders, crime-riddled streets, the bad go free while the good suffer type of society. It’s a page out of our everyday handbook. But we’ve been told that this is an evolving comic, a society that evolves (that’s the operative word) into an evil empire, so if this is truly the case, the set up is superb.
Reese, an underground rapper with very strong anti-establishment, dare I say anarchist, views is approached by Democratic nominee Sam Duggins after one of her shows, and although I found his fangirling a little off-putting (think: young girl meets one of those British pop boy band guys), it quickly becomes oddly charming. And that charm is solidified as he pops up again a few days later during one of Reese’s MTV interviews to support her unconventional political stance. But it’s toward the end of this sequence that his charm feels two-faced. We are left feeling unsure whether or not his intentions with Reese are pure or whether he has other less savory plans in store for her. We are entering an evil empire, after all.
Ransom Getty’s art is excellent. I appreciate the strong realistic bent to the art given the story itself is meant to arouse familiar feelings in us. The pacing is quick and the different stories within the arc flow seamlessly together. I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a slow clap for the phenomenal use of literary misdirection in the opening sequence. The use of vague terminology turns into a play on words that leads the reader to believe they are about to dive into a post-apocalyptic comic with zombies and overlord machines, only to find out those terrifying descriptions are in fact being applied to modern society. And frankly, my dear, it’s damn good writing.
As I mentioned, this comic leaves you with buckets of questions, I’ve yet to see the true evil empire, or at least, anything more evil than what I see every day on the news. And more questions abound because at this point, none of the characters can or should be trusted. But Bemis pulls all of this off with perfection and ease, that is, if you enjoy reading some comics with your politics.
Reviewed by – Bree Ogden