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Empire #1

Posted: Sunday, August 3, 2003
By: Cody Dolan



"As Ye Sow…"

Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Barry Kitson (p), James Pascoe (i)

Publisher: DC Comics

Plot:
Golgoth, the sadistic despot that has taken over the world, isn't happy. His underlings are lying to him, and that includes his beloved daughter. Aside from that, Xanna struggles with the secret behind the Eucharist, a drug Golgoth gives to all of his Ministers.

Comments:
Mark Waid and Barry Kitson have created a world that truly frightens me, and I'm loving every minute of it. There are plenty of brutal, unforgiving characters on the comic book landscape and Golgoth isn't that different than a lot of them. What is different is the scale upon which his sadism is practiced and the was he's so quick to use his lack of scruples to get what he wants. He'll let no one stand in his way regardless of guilt or innocence, and that's chilling to read.

Aside from Golgoth, the Empire world is populated by the kind of backstabbing, vicious, violent people you'd expect a man like the dictator to encourage. Everyone from the top of the food chain to the lowly hall monitors revel in the atmosphere created by their leader, leaving the book without a single redeeming character. Unfortunately, those supposedly smart characters are caught doing some dumb things this issue, and it's that contradiction that knocked that fifth bullet off the score. Xanna's smart enough to find the Eucharist's secret, but she's dumb enough to write it down? And I'm not going to even discuss the way Lohkyn is committing suicide.

Barry Kitson is a name that I hadn't encountered before this series, so I was surprised at how good his art is. His style reminds me of Brent (Astro City) Anderson with a smidge of early Jim Lee thrown in. His storytelling breaks down a bit when Xanna fights Grieze, but that's really the only weak part of his work. Everything else is clean and easy to follow, and he's able to mix in good amounts of gore with more interpersonal moments. I'm confident he could draw anything Waid threw at him, and that gives me hope that the next five issues will be this good.

Final Word:
I knew nothing about this series when I picked up #0 last month, and now I'm completely hooked on the story of a bad guy winning. I have no idea where Waid and Kitson are going with this, and that unpredictability is making for a great story. So far, this book is truly unique, and that's rare in the comics industry.



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