The Pull List: Empire Uprising is a Bloody Dystopia

Welcome to The Pull List, a weekly column where we check out a first issue of a new series and tell you whether or not to follow the comic based only on that. This week I’m taking a look at the first issue of Empire Uprising, written and drawn by Mark Waid and Barry Kitson, respectively.

So Empire Uprising is actually a follow-up to Waid and Kitson’s own Uprising which was published about a decade ago. Why has it taken the pair so long to get a sequel out? Well, in actuality, this is just the first serialized print version of the Empire Uprising story, as Waid and Kitson had previously published the work in a slightly different format as a webcomic on Waid’s website.

This new iteration, though, features some great coloring by Chris Sotomayor, as well as some additional artwork not originally included in the webcomic version. At least, this is how Waid explains it all in the afterword at the end of the first issue. Having not read either Empire or the webcomic version of Empire Uprising, he could be lying his ass off for all I know, but I’m going to assume that he’s telling the truth.

The question then is: as someone who’s totally unfamiliar with the world of Empire, what did I think of this first issue of Uprising? And the answer to that question is: It’s alright. Really, I wish I had a stronger opinion one way or the other, but the truth is that there’s just nothing in here that’s outstanding, but there’s also nothing in here that’s really terrible, either.

The plot revolves around a tyrannical super villain who rules the world, and the ragtag resistance fighters who are attempting to overthrow him. This book takes place one year after the death of that villain’s only daughter (an event that, presumably, happened in the original series).

There are certain moments that seem a little over-the-top. For example, in honor of the “princess'” death, everyone on earth is required to observe three minutes of silence. Anyone who doesn’t comply is murdered in cold blood – no matter who they are (this includes babies and sleeping people, apparently). One would be compelled to describe it as “comic booky,” but that’s the thing, this is a comic book, and the story revels in that fact.

The tyrant can be as evil and powerful as he wants to be, because this is clearly a story about over-the-top characters, with insane motivations. And that’s fine, but it doesn’t feel like it’s doing anything particularly new or innovative with the idea. He’s evil! He rules the world! It’s terrible for everyone! And as far as that stuff is concerned, it’s all orchestrated quite well, we really do feel like the villain is an untouchable, supremely evil tyrant.

Empire Uprising does what it does real well, it just so happens that what it does isn’t, frankly, all that interesting. It’s pure comic book filler, with bright colors and extreme characters, but no nuance or subtlety.

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