Review – Empyre: Savage Avengers #1 (Marvel Comics)

Empyre: Savage Avengers #1
  • Writing - 7/10
  • Art - 9/10
  • Overall - 8/10
User Review
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Empyre: Savage Avengers #1

Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Greg Smallwood
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Maturity Rating: Teen+
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release Date: July 29, 2020

Gerry Duggan and Greg Smallwood bring Conan the Barbarian and Eddie Brock, aka Venom, to do some savage avenging as Mexico City comes under attack from the Cotati.


Over the Top With Empyre: Savage Avengers #1

What would an event comic book be without a thousand “tie-in” issues? Well, that leads us to Empyre: Savage Avengers #1. As the “Celestial Messiah Quoi” and his planet of plant people, Cotati, avenge themselves against the Kree and Skrulls, they decide to kill all animal life on Earth! It is up to Earth’s mightiest heroes to save the day. As the attacks reach Mexico City, it seems everyone’s favorite Cimmerian, Conan the Barbarian, is taking in some Lucha Libra wrestling. By Crom, he can’t let some plant people take over the world! But these plants might be too big for even Conan to chew! Luckily Eddie Brock, aka Venom, happens to be in the neighborhood. It is time for some Savage Avenging!


Empyre: Savage Avengers #1 (Marvel Comics) cover by Greg Smallwood
Empyre: Savage Avengers #1 (Marvel Comics) cover by Greg Smallwood

I have been following along with the main “Empyre” storyline and have read a few tie-ins. But I had no intent to read Empyre: Savage Avengers #1. I read and reviewed the first issue of Savage Avengers and dropped off shortly after that. Plus, there are like literally a thousand tie-in books to “Empyre”. But then I see Gerry Duggan and Greg Smallwood on the cover and it reels me in!

I loved Gerry Duggan’s writing on Punisher: Kill Krew, a “tie-in/offshoot” 5-part story to Marvel’s last event, “War of the Realms”. That was such a fun and amazing book, I had to check this out. Gerry Duggan delivers what feels like a wacky ’80s movie in Empyre: Savage Avengers #1.

Look, you don’t really need to know anything about the Savage Avengers, or really, “Empyre”, for that matter, for this issue. Duggan gets you caught up to speed in a paragraph and launches you right into this madness of a book. I mean, I don’t know if this even counts as a tie-in to Empyre as it is just mainly Conan and Venom killing a bunch of plant people (sorry, spoilers). But that is the basics of it.

That doesn’t mean the dialogue and what we see in the issue aren’t extremely fun. I had a ton of fun reading Empyre: Savage Avengers #1. But there is not much of a story here, either.


The moment I saw Greg Smallwood‘s name I was like “yep, guess I’m reading this now”. I haven’t seen Greg Smallwood do interiors to a book in a hot minute, and let me tell ya, he has been sorely missed. I almost forgot how good he is. Just some stunning work from page to page. His simple designs and tight linework all look fantastic.

Smallwood’s panel structure and the way he depicts the visuals of the books he is on are always delightful to look at. He has been doing this a lot lately, from Moon Knight to Vampironica, not using panel border lines; it just fades into the white of the paper. It continues to make for a unique look. He also does great sequences with what would seem rather “simple” panel layouts and structures, but uses them masterfully well to tell a story visually.

When I said Empyre: Savage Avengers #1 feels like an ’80s movie, that is mainly from Gerry Duggan’s lively dialogue and Smallwood’s coloring work. He uses a ton of neon pinks and greens in this issue. It is a bit shocking at first, but as the story moves along, it gives the issue that “fun”, carefree feeling. Like when you see those colors you just kind of relax and enjoy the ride.


Look, I am not going to tell you Empyre: Savage Avengers #1 is a great story (I don’t know if there is even much of one here). You also don’t need to read this to stay up to date on what is happening with “Empyre”. But I will tell you, if you want a story that feels like a buddy-cop movie from the ’80s, then you should pick this up. If you want to have some fun with Conan the Barbarian and Venom, then look no further. Also, I mean, it has Greg Smallwood on interior art, and we don’t get that often, so if you like great comic-book art you kind of have to grab this.

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