Evil Empire #1
Written by Max Bemis
Art by Ransom Getty
Color by Christ Blythe
Letters by Ed Dukeshire
Cover by Jay Shaw
Release Date: March 5, 2014
Cover Price: $3.99
As a huge fan of post-apocalyptic stories, I’m always pining for the next Walking Dead or Jericho thatâ€™ll satisfy my primal curiosities about a world where the material comforts of modern suburbia have been ripped away. Enter writer Max Bemisâ€™ new series Evil Empire. Perhaps my expectations of fire and brimstone were misplaced; what we get is more TMZ than DMZ. And, yet, thatâ€™s not a bad thing.
Evil Empire follows the rise of a totalitarian regime in a near-future America. Reese is a rap star whose politically charged lyrics brand her as a lone, dissenting salmon swimming against the rip tide of political conformity. Just as Reese scoffs at a vacuous political commercial, the star of the ad, Sam Duggins, makes a surprise appearance backstage. The aspiring politician seeks to tap into the energy of Reeseâ€™s fanbase by befriending her and, presumably, winning her endorsement. After some hokey cardboard cheesing thatâ€™s typical of a big-name politician, Duggins intrigues Reese enough to win her reluctant attention.
Evil Empire’s direction was surprising given its cover art and description promising a tale of society’s downward spiral. This story starts at the absolute genesis of this empireâ€”itâ€™s American totalitarianism in its zygote stage. Evil Empire #1 ends with Dugginsâ€™ political opponent making a cliffhanger public admission. In real life, such an event would undoubtedly be a major news story for several cycles. However, for this storyâ€™s grand scope, this event seems rather small-scale. I’m curious to see how writer, Max Bemis, will escalate this unsettlingly familiar society into an â€œevil empireâ€ from this point.
Max Bemis’ dialogue can be clunky at times. The characterâ€™s linesâ€”Reeseâ€™s in particular–read like excerpts of a Bill Maher rant. This wordy, unnatural speech expresses a lot of information in a small space, but it doesn’t flow well in the comic book medium. It took me out of the story on multiple occasions as I had to decipher what I just read.
Artist Ransom Gettyâ€™s close-ups are downright gorgeous. However, when the viewpoint moves farther back, the characters can exhibit some awkward facial expressions. I was confused, at times, whether Reese was ecstatic, angry, or clenching a shart. Overall, Gettyâ€™s line work dutifully portrays this politically motivated tale. Jay Shawâ€™s cover art is phenomenal. The beautifully simple cover alone is what hooked me into checking out Evil Empireâ€”to say nothing of the equally fascinating variant covers.
Evil Empire definitely has a point to make, but, so far, this story is a character study of an anti-establishment artist getting swept into the world of an aspiring politician. The story’s direction was unexpected and, frankly, I didnâ€™t like it at first. But as Iâ€™ve let the comic simmer in my mind, I have gained an appreciation for its ambition. Evil Empire is a slow jaunt; this first issue doesnâ€™t even seem to scratch the surface. This is one of those comics where I might wait a few months and let some issues stack up for some quality binge-time.