This week's Empyre Aftermath: Avengers #1 (opens in new tab) from Al Ewing, Valerio Schiti, and Marte Gracia clears up some questions about the end of Marvel's Empyre event, and, in typical Marvel fashion, lays some seeds for the next story evolution of the publisher's cosmic status quo.
Spoilers ahead for Empyre Aftermath: Avengers #1.(opens in new tab)
The bulk of Empyre Aftermath: Avengers #1 is spent with former Skrull empress R'Kill explaining how she killed Teddy Altman/Emperor Dorrek VIII/Hulkling's mother, the Skrull princess Anelle, and took Hulkling's place as the sovereign leader of the combined Kree/Skrull empire.
In the aftermath, R'Kill warns Hulkling that his friends will betray him and he will be laid to waste, and that he should destroy the Earth – a prediction Hulkling blows off, instead thinking of his wedding to Wiccan which was celebrated with a bigger party on the Skrull flagship with most of Marvel's heroes in attendance.
As the heroes reminisce about the loves and losses of stories past, Abigail Brand of SWORD/Alpha Flight arrives to chastise Carol Danvers for her handling of the Kree/Skrull fight against the Cotati, and for keeping SWORD, an agency dedicated to monitoring space threats, out of the loop on the Kree/Skrull/Cotati conflict.
Brand angrily accuses the Avengers of being a small group of people with little authority and perspective making global decisions that affect the entire Marvel Universe with little consideration, quitting SWORD and leading the assembled heroes to question their actions.
As the story ends however, it jumps forward an indeterminate period of time to a scene of great destruction. Kree warrior Captain Glory lays defeated and dying among numerous other heroes and members of the Kree/Skrull alliance, including Emperor Hulkling, who lays in the rubble lamenting that his grandmother R'Kill was "right about more than I wanted to admit. My friends, my enemies, the Earth, Alpha Flight, all of it. I should have listened"
As Hulkling lays in the rubble, Abigail Brand arrives through a portal with a mostly unseen entourage including former Avenger Manifold.(opens in new tab)
"You really should have. I warned you all the way back at your wedding party, your highness. Alpha Flight doesn't work," Brand says. "That's why I built something better. Now let's go."
While it seems at first glance Brand and her team could be responsible for the devastation, it's also quite possible they're actually the back-up, arriving to help Hulkling out of the situation he's in.
Time will tell, as Empyre has now wrapped, with its threads presumably to be picked up in later tales across the Marvel Universe.
If you want to catch up on the stories that led to Empyre, dig into these ten Marvel crossovers that made a huge impact (opens in new tab).