Empyre: The Next Marvel Event

Here's what we know about Marvel's next big event, going back to the days of the classic Kree-Skrull War!

Marvel Empyre
Photo: Marvel

One of the big constants in Marvel has always been the endless rivalry between the Skrulls and the Kree. Back in the ‘70s, we got the classic Avengers story, The Kree-Skrull War out of the two alien forces going to war with each other with Earth’s fate in the balance. The What If spinoff (“What If the Avengers Fought the Kree-Skrull War Without Rick Jones?”) is presumably the first massive superhero team-up storyline in Marvel history. The aftermath of the Kree-Skrull War caused the creation of Marvel’s Illuminati. They even retconned it so that Venom’s origins were spawned from the war (its first host was a Kree warrior trying to weaponize shape-shifting against a race of shape-shifters).

Plus, hey, we got a pretty successful Captain Marvel movie based on the feud.

A major wrinkle in the rivalry appeared in the mid-00s when we got to meet Hulkling from the Young Avengers. Teddy Altman was introduced as presumably some kind of Hulk-based offshoot of Bruce Banner’s gamma-irradiated alter ego with the big twist reveal being that he was the offspring of Kree hero Mar-Vell and Skrull Princess Anelle. The fact that Teddy looked like a Hulk was just a shape-shifting ruse (for the record, Hulk himself found that charming and flattering). Now, after all this time as an Earth superhero, Hulkling is finally giving into his birthright.

The comic one-shot Incoming showed bits and pieces of what’s going on in various Marvel status quos, but the big thing is that Hulkling – now calling himself Dorrek VIII – is going to be uniting the Skrulls and the Kree to smite Earth in what he calls “The Final War.”

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Why? Not sure yet, but it has something to do with killer trees. PROBABLY not Groot-like trees, but Incoming did involve a Skrull trying to give exposition only for a tree to grow from his insides so fast that he exploded.

…Yeah. Well, here’s the trailer where the creative team goes over everything!

Marvel Empyre Trailer

Empyre, at its core, is a team-up between the Avengers and Fantastic Four against the Kree-Skrull Alliance. Granted, it isn’t so radical that these two alien races would join forces. With storylines like Annihilation, Annihilators, and Infinity, the cosmic threats have been getting more fearsome lately, to the point that 1000-year enemies now regularly fight side-by-side out of necessity. But why target Earth, who acted as their ally in those instances?

If anything, this makes me think back to the ’90s one-shot Hulk: The End, where a nuclear war wiped out Earth’s population and the Kree and Skrulls called off their war for one hundred years of celebration. Sure, these two races have it in for each other, but it’s only a matter of time before they agree on how much they can’t stand Earth and build on that.

Marvel Empyre Release Date

The main series will be co-written by Avengers scribe Al Ewing and Fantastic Four scribe Dan Slott. The art will be taken care of by Valerio Schiti. While the Incoming intro one-shot is already out, Empyre #1 is set to kick off the event on April 15 and last for six issues.

Or…well, it was set for April 15. The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the entertainment industry hard and the comic book distribution is no different. As of right now, Empyre #1‘s release date has been pushed to July 15.

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Marvel Empyre Story

Empyre #1 (July 15)

The Kree and the Skrulls have united under a new emperor – and their war fleet is on a collision course for our world. On the moon, the Avengers are ready to strike with the full power of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Approaching from outer space, the Fantastic Four are seeking a diplomatic solution. If the two teams can’t work together to save the day, things can only get worse…

Empyre #2 (July 22)

Three Avengers are trapped on the moon as war breaks out on Earth – and an ancient enemy reveals a scheme decades in the making! Meanwhile, the Fantastic Four fight against a creeping horror that might destroy them all – starting with the Thing! Captain Marvel is their last, best hope… But if Carol Danvers survives, what will she become?

Empyre #3 (July 29)

The tag-team action comes home! Wakanda is the battleground – as the Avengers and the FF unite to prevent a Vibranium-powered threat to all life as we know it! A long-lost Avenger returns to active duty – but will that be enough to turn the tide? And in space, interstellar intrigue threatens the fragile Kree/Skrull alliance…and the repercussions might just doom planet Earth!

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Empyre #4 (August 5)

Tensions mount as the action heats up! As the attack on Wakanda intensifies, the heroes find themselves under attack from their enemies — and their allies! In a war where nobody can be fully trusted, betrayal cuts deep — as the alien invasion claims its first casualty! In this issue: The shock ending you never expected! You’ll want to frame it for your wall, True Believer!

Empyre #5 (August 12)

Love and war — in the midst of cosmic cataclysm! One fan-favorite Marvel hero reveals their secret — as another faces the ultimate showdown with a monstrous foe! Meanwhile, an outer-space jailbreak leads to a trial by combat you’ll have to see to believe…but is it all too late to save Earth from two world-ending threats at once?

Empyre #6 (TBA)

Marvel Empyre Tie-Ins

As for tie-ins, in July we’re starting off with Empyre: Avengers #0-3, Empyre: Captain America #1-3, Lords of Empyre: Emperor Hulkling #1, Empyre: X-Men #1-4, Empyre: Savage Avengers #1, Fantastic Four #21-22, Captain Marvel #18-20, and X-Men #10-11. August will give us Lords of Empyre: Celestial Messiah and Lords of Empyre: Swordsman #1. At some point we’ll also get Empyre: Spider-Man #1-3, the Union #1-5, Empyre: Thor #1-3, Empyre: Stormranger #1-3, Empyre: Squadron Supreme #1-2, Empyre: The Invasion of Wakanda #1-3, and Empyre: Ghost Rider #1.

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Time will tell what in there is actually worth reading, but the Savage Avengers tie-in is Gerry Duggan and Greg Smallwood putting together a team-up between Conan the Barbarian and Venom against alien plant people, so I’m all about that jazz! Also, the Spider-Man tie-in is written by Taran Killam, who was one of the brighter spots of the last decade of Saturday Night Live, so that might at least be interesting.

Marvel Empyre Covers and Promotional Images

Marvel Empyre: A New Accuser Must Rise

Another piece of the puzzle is that according to one of the promotional images, one of the big plot points is the crowning of Ronan the Accuser’s successor. Ronan was killed off recently in the Death of the Inhumans storyline, but supposedly one of Earth’s heroes will be wielding his not-quite-as-cool-as-Mjolnir hammer. The covers for certain solicited comics coming in the next few months seems to spoil the wielder, so that might not be the most shocking development in this series.

Marvel Empyre: A Hero Will Betray Them All

There’s also a promotional cover saying that one of the heroes will be betraying the rest. Is this supposed to just mean Hulkling or is there more to the story? Maybe it ties into the Accuser situation I just talked about. Someone taking Ronan the Accuser’s spot might not exactly be a good thing for Earth, considering he spent much of his fictional existence as a villain and this is already a Kree-Skrull invasion.

In the meantime, here’s some more cool cover art.

Marvel Empyre Cover
Marvel Empyre: Victory Through Unity
Marvel Empyre: The Kree-Skrull War Was Just the Beginning
Marvel Empyre: Thor vs. Hulkling