Evil Empire #1 Review

By: Rob Neil Gruszecki

That bleak dystopian future you imagine, the one with desolate streets, sacked storefronts, a perpetual hue of exhaust and pollution blanketing the landscape, militia drones policing the streets as violent droogs wander about with ultra-violent tendencies, is actually not as far away as you may think. From exactly right now it may only be a few short years before these particular nightmares become a reality. Sitting numb and pathetic at the core of it all, acting as the initial catalyst for the flame that will soon engulf the surrounding comfortable habitat is you. Your complacency and disaffection is responsible and the coming napalm tides will be what you’ve earned.

The apes have taken over the planet

Charting the imminent downfall of modern society and its hostile takeover at the hands of tyrants and rats is Evil Empire, a 16-issue maxi-series from the writer of Polarity, Max Bemis (Say Anything), and the incredible artwork of Ransom Getty, showing a familiar world where the cracks have begun to crumble into chasms and the twisted talking heads that direct our fate announce their true intentions in boast. Bleak, intense, intriguing and totally unique, Evil Empire follows the brutal murder of a politician’s wife and a rebellious voice desperately trying to tread water in a sea of facades we have come to rally behind.

Musician Max Bemis of Say Anything and Two Tongues first delved into the world of comics with his Boom! Studios mini-series Polarity and established himself as a powerful new voice in the medium. Responsible for evocative, irreverent and passionate lyrics, his talents lend themselves extremely well to the format of small narrative boxes and word balloons where wit is most effective and powerful when concise. His empathetic characters come to life with honest dialogue and a well crafted and gripping narrative where the groundwork set for the remainder of the series is vast, swallowing you into a mystery that you can’t wait to see unravel. Bemis’ writing style is crass, bitter and sharp reminding me of early Warren Ellis or Peter Milligan and would have been right at home alongside Vertigo gems such as Hellblazer, Global Frequency or Enigma. Where Polarity was an exciting introduction into his work as a comic creator, Evil Empire is the exemplary expansion of that initial launch. The talent of Max Bemis has been a pleasure to watch develop throughout his career as a musician and now as an author.

Working on art in Evil Empire are the fresh contributions of Ransom Getty who paints a very visceral and haunting world stained with blood and punctuated by emotive characters whose designs are beautiful. Laying out each page with fluid ease his pencils have a natural flow to them, directing the action smoothly where all the beats resonate with the audience effectively and with strength. Story beats are swift and delivered with power where violence isn’t gratuitous but a necessity of the storytelling which makes their occurrences all the more disturbing and cold. His natural ability as a visual storyteller is one I hope to see in many future projects as his creative talents are a true gem in comics.

The first issue of Evil Empire is dark, harrowing and thought provoking marking the beginning of an interesting journey. The work of Bemis and Getty is an exciting and fresh pairing on the comic shelves heralding their individual creative presence in the community hopefully for years to come.

Rob Neil Gruszecki is a writer, musician and Wednesday warrior

Follow him on Twitter @Ghost_Factory

Listen to his music www.Ghostfactory.Bandcamp.com or listen to the Weekly Comics Round-Up Podcast www.Geekstampede.com