Despite its fanciful appearance, The Empty is a curious tale by Jimmie Robinson (Bomb Queen, Five Weapons) about a world which has met an apocalyptic fate and it’s up to two heroines from different regions to save it. In a fantastical world filled with strange creatures and terrain, there’s really no telling what they may encounter or what Robinson will cook up. So is it good?
The Empty #1 (Image Comics)
While not originally what I was expecting based on the preview and bio, The Empty serves as an original look at a mildly used storyline. The comic focuses on the main character, Tanoor, and her pet/hunting partner Foxalope as they endure within her barren and dying world. However, one day Tanoor comes across a body washed ashore and takes the woman under her care against the will of her fellow villagers. The woman is Lila who comes from a distant land rife with food and lush vegetation. Together, Tanoor and Lila embark to end the poison that plagues their village and once accomplished, return Lila to her homeland.
This comic immediately strikes out to make an impression as it’s unique in a number of ways. The characters themselves, while being anthropomorphic, are not human, but two different species entirely. I also enjoy the decision to make both the leads females. Tanoor is definitely a solid character and it’s nice to see a female lead demonstrate both moral and physical strength. The world they live in is intriguing because it seems as though Robinson really spent some time cooking up some truly bizarre concepts. The comic is very reminiscent of the world in the game Journey as it has that same mystical and fantastical appeal to it.
The art is hit and miss for me. Tanoor and the other villagers are drawn very well, especially up close when Robinson’s apply to pencil in the detail of Tanoor’s cuts and bruises is shown off. The costumes are unique, especially Tanoor’s, but it’s apparent that Robinson has some degree of difficulty with depth. Figures or silhouttes drawn in the background look copied and pasted in and sometimes appear to be placed on top of items rather than placed further back in the panel. Also the style of Lila and her people completely throws me off. The scenes of her people make the comic as a whole appear more juvenile with the bright colors and the animated features. Lila’s wide spread eyes give her a comical look that’s hard to take seriously (and her eyes are like goat eyes. They’re vacant and I don’t know where she’s looking).
Is It Good?
Robinson gives life to a truly imaginative world that blends the fantasy and apocalypse. While the writing is a bit lackluster and the art can be either exaggerated or miss completely when it comes to depth, I applaud the originality of the concept and design of the comic. Empty is a great example of a writer exploring new dimensions within the comic book industry and serves as a solid pickup for someone who wants something that seems to come out of left field. While I still can’t decide who the target audience is, its fantastical aspects and visual design should appeal to both younger and older readers alike.