With perfect nods to everything from “Star Wars” to “Blade Runner,” but with its own distinctive style, “Empress” looks like a comic book headed for the big screen, and it is. Read here. Yes, this comic will be a movie. Someday, all comics will be turned into movies. Anyway, do enjoy it now since good comics help make everything better.
Mark Millar is one of those exceptional creators. He brings to mind Ed Brubaker, someone at home with writing everything from Captain America to his own work, like Criminal. Both Millar and Brubaker have contributed significantly to the Captain America canon. As for Millar’s own original work, there’s a whole universe of it. Ever hear of “Kick-Ass”? Miller has worked on so many titles it would make your head spin. That said, “Empress” feels fresh and fun, like a very special project should.
With Empress, Miller is riffing on Star Wars and doing it in the House of Marvel Comics (Icon Comics), no less. That’s pretty cool. This is no mere rip-off of Star Wars but the similarities are unmistakable–it is a distant future/past; a lovely woman of noble birth must return to her home; she is on the run with a madcap crew; a funny little droid holds the keys to their escape. But no complaints here. Millar did a similar thing with Batman a few years ago to great effect. Basically, he has the uncanny ability of taking very familiar material and giving it a new set of wings. For instance, in this story, the stand-in for R2-D2 is called, Ship, and it can zap itself, and those near it, to other worlds. Nice wrinkle to a familiar story.
Switching bodies is probably never a good idea and Miller creates here a new wrinkle to that premise. I like the scene with the Quez, a blue mellow race of creatures. We see them here advertising a body swap where they will have one of their reps inhabit your body and engage in vigorous exercise while you get to lounge and pig out in their body. That’s a different level of borrowing. It’s a very clever nod to Robert Sheckley’s hilarious sci-fi classic novel, “Mindswap.” Bravo.
And getting back to the Mark Miller universe at-large, be sure to check out “Jupiter’s Legacy Vol. 2 #1” on sale June 29th, published by Image Comics. “Empress #2,” published by Icon, is available as of May 4th. For more details, visit Icon right here.
After a hiatus, Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips return for another round of “Incognito.” This one they’re calling “Bad Influences.” You know, these guys are at the top of their game for this type of crime fiction. Like they say in the comic, if you’re new to this, just go find the trades and catch up.
I like the way Brubaker slices and dices when it comes to set ups. Notice how, when obligated, he will provide a phoned in montage of Captain America and Bucky fighting the Krauts in the Black Forest, etc. It’s like he wants to poke holes through the process. In this comic, he has our hero go through a mad dash recap of some past capers and then drop kicks him into New York City like a rat off a sinking ship. That done, the fog of moral ambiguity can thicken unencumbered. Our hero is Zack. He used to be a super-villain and now, not so much. He has these powers. He’s not human. They’re not sure what he is. He would just like to kick ass as often as he needs to relieve stress. But first, some substantial and unexpected misadventure.
Like any good hard-on-his-luck Brubaker character, it’s not long before Zack has accidently killed a guy and set off the latest chain of events that will tear up his miserable life. Cool noir this is. And, yes, there is a babe and Zack and she become bedmates, but nothing more. In the best scene in the issue, Zack momentarily becomes vulnerable and asks Zoe for a favor. She is his boss, and he was hoping she could talk some sense into, Von Chance, a prick that also answers to her. Unforutantely for Zack, Zoe must remind him there really isn’t that much between the two of them. That is about as lucky as this guy gets. It won’t be long before Zoe has completely turned against him and it all goes back to a most unfortunate mistake that Zack could have avoided.
Among the regular tidbits at the end of the comic, it was nice to read that the “Incognito” movie is shaping up well and has Robert Schenkkano attached to write the screenplay. Schenkkano, and Christopher Hampton, wrote the screenplay for “The Quite American.” As you may know, that has an impressive performance by Brendan Fraser. And yet another brilliant performance by one of the greats, Michael Caine. The movie has lots of memorable dialogue, such as these last lines:
They say you come to Vietnam and understand a lot in a few minutes. The rest has got to be lived. They say whatever it was you were looking for, you will find here. They say there is a ghost in every house, and if you can make peace with him, he will stay quiet.
“Incognito” is published by Marvel and is part of their ICON line. Go get yourself a copy.