It has been a decade since Mark Waid and Barry Kitson finished the first volume of Empire, but Golgoth and his Empire have returned with more palace intrigue and rebel instigators. Will Golgoth be able to weed out the rebels and crush them once and for all? Is it good?
Empire Uprising #1 (IDW Publishing)
Interestingly enough I just picked up and finished the Empire trade paperback, so when I saw Empire Uprising was debuting this week, I just had to get my hands on a review copy!
Mark Waid begins with a treacherous tone as a couple of hooded figures plot to overthrow Golgoth. Waid uses their plotting to reintroduce (or introduce to new readers) the idea of Golgoth, who he is, and what he is like.
Once Waid establishes the idea of Golgoth, he moves into fleshing that idea out. He uses a classroom scene where a young teacher tells the story of how Golgoth has “eliminated war.” The dialogue is reminiscent of what one would hear at a Communist re-education camp in China or as part of the Hitler Youth. Waid also addresses current privacy concerns noting “the Empire has eyes everywhere and is watching us all.” It is an extremely horrific and creepy scenario.
Barry Kitson brings this scenario to life. The students and teachers are shown with pseudo-Swastika armbands and, as the teacher lists off the accomplishments of Golgoth such as eliminating disease, he juxtaposes it with Golgoth leading his soldiers in the mass execution of failed human genetic experiments. This is just the tip of the iceberg for Golgoth’s villainy. He exerts complete control over the population of Earth. He demands three minutes of silence and if one whisper is uttered the offenders are eliminated. Kitson depicts a nursery ward filled with nurses smothering newborn children in order to keep them quiet. Kitson struggles with depicting emotions through facial features; none of the characters’ faces ever seem to drastically change no matter how they are feeling. The faces appear to stay in the same resting state with a few exceptions where individuals have wide open mouths as they look on in shock.
With Golgoth’s utter dominance and complete control of the population, there are people who feel rightly oppressed and have taken it upon themselves to take action against Golgoth. This leads to a climactic combat sequence. It is exhilarating! Kitson gives the reader hope these rebels can defeat Golgoth, but at the same time depicts Golgoth’s iron will in combating them. Some of the scenes are extremely bloody, almost taking up full panels with pieces of human flesh filling in the rest.
After the high-paced action sequence, Waid dives into character development. Golgoth second-guesses himself, changing his mind in how he wishes to deal with the rebels as well as hesitating on their dress. This opens a whole can of worms regarding Golgoth’s ministers who are ever-plotting and conspiring with each other.
Is It Good?
Mark Waid and Barry Kitson deliver an exciting new entry with Empire Uprising #1. It is a perfect jumping-on point for new readers that fully immerses you in the world of Empire, fleshing out the world and the man who controls it. It even touches on a greater plot to unseat Golgoth from his throne. Waid’s dialogue is fun, but also dramatic. He is able to combine jokes about telling fortunes from entrails to discussing the strategy of covering up the attack on Golgoth. Kitson’s artwork is exciting and at some points extremely gory. He is able to effectively convey the evil and tyranny behind Golgoth’s reign, however, he fails to deliver on capturing facial expressions, especially with Golgoth’s ministers.