Empire (2004) Mark Waid, Barry Kitson, James Pascoe (DC Comics)
Few of us are like Mark Waid. You might think I’m talking about the man’s talent - which is obvious to anyone who’s read his work - but I’m not. Neither am I talking about his knowledge of comics, which is just as obvious to anyone who has spoken to him, listened to him or read one of his interviews. But that’s not what I’m talking about either. In “True Story,” his introduction to the trade paperback edition of Empire, Waid states that he realized on his 29th birthday that he “had achieved every single one of my goals and dreams and really had no picture whatsoever of tomorrow. It was the most frightening and most sobering moment of my life.”
That’s how Waid got the idea for Empire, a comic featuring a villain as its main character, a masked conqueror named Golgoth, whom, at the beginning of the book, already rules close to 100% of Earth.He has eyes everywhere, vast information at his fingertips, and soldiers stationed on just about every inch of breathable soil. But what is left to do when you own all there is to own? Betrayals and uprisings, although infrequent, are still serious issues, yet Golgoth’s main concern is the welfare and safety of his daughter Delfi. Since her mother’s death, Golgoth goes to great pains to make sure Delfi is well educated, trained and taken care of.
Golgoth has everything that he could want. So what happens next?
You’d be surprised. Or maybe not, if you’ve read Waid before. The man’s seen so much, read so much, written so much that he’s full of surprises. Empire is an excellent read because it’s so much more than an all-powerful villain ruling the world: there’s drama, political intrigue, deception, betrayal, action, philosophy, wheels-within-wheels and more that I’m going to let you discover yourself. (Oh, and Barry Kitson’s art is pretty amazing as well.)
This 2004 volume collects Empire #0-6 and has been out of print for some time now. In fact, the collection is a bit hard to come by. You can find it for sale online, but it can be pricey. (I was lucky enough to find a copy at a convention a few weeks ago for $7 from a dealer who obviously didn’t know what he had.) But you can read that first volume without spending a whole lot of money by subscribing to Thrillbent, a digital comics service that’s only $3.99 a month - the cost of one regular print comic book. A subscription gives you access to several ongoing titles including The Damnation of Charlie Wormwood, The House in the Wall, and the second volume of Empire. What good does it do you to read the second volume? Well, included in your subscription is a pdf version of the first volume of Empire. It just doesn’t get much better than that.