Empyre, Marvel's summer crossover that depicts a clash between the combined Kree/Skrull empire and Cotati with the Avengers and Fantastic Four caught in the middle, has claimed yet more apparent casualties with this week's Empyre #5.
To catch you up, in Empyre #4 it was revealed that:
- Teddy Altman (a.k.a. Hulkling or Emperor Dorrek VIII) and Billy Kaplan (Wiccan) had secretly married
- Hulkling had potentially been replaced by an imposter
- She-Hulk had definitely been killed and replaced by a Cotati infiltrator
With Empyre #5, readers learned that things are getting even more dire as one of the most dangerous people in the Marvel Universe falls.
As Billy Kaplan recounts his spontaneous Vegas wedding to Teddy Altman to the listening Carol Danvers and Johnny Storm, the three jet off to Emperor Dorrek VIII's flagship to find Teddy – who is being held in a Skrull containment apparatus – and take down the false emperor, revealed as the former Kree accuser Tanalth, before she can blow up Earth's sun (more on that in a moment).
But back on Earth, Black Panther's army in Wakanda is losing ground to the Cotati forces, who sacrifice themselves in hordes to take Wakanda's great Vibranium mound. Black Panther, wielding the Star Sword, calls in an airstrike that decimates the Cotati forces – but the Cotati mages sacrifice themselves and all the soldiers to open a portal on the mound.
Black Panther prepares to face an army, but only Swordsman steps through – and instantly stabs T'Challa in the chest. Quoi follows, and as he makes his plans for the Vibranium mound, his soldiers pronounce Black Panther dead of blood loss.
Interestingly, one of T'Challa's current allies, Ka-Zar, meets a similar fate in this week's Empyre: Avengers #2. Set early in the Empyre saga, before the invasion of Wakanda, Empyre: Avengers #2 depicts a fight in the Savage Land – with Ka-Zar's wife Sheena the She-Devil turning to the Cotati, and even stabbing her husband. Of course, the end of Empyre #5, which takes place after those events, depicts Ka-Zar as still fighting for Earth in the Savage Land.
Back on the Blue Area of the Moon (where Quoi just arrived from) in the Cotati garden, the Cotati/She-Hulk hybrid monster smashes Ben Grimm to a bloody pulp, cracking his carapace. None of the heroes attacks work – she's strong enough to punch through Sue Storm's forcefields and she's even immune to psychic attack. Summoning his strength, Ben sends her flying and the heroes regroup, but the Cotati/She-Hulk fights on.
On the Kree/Skrull flagship, Tanalth, in the form of Dorrek VIII, announces that Carol, Billy, Teddy, and Johnny are too late – the Kree weapon has already been engaged to blow up the sun and destroy the entire solar system. Tanalth challenges Teddy to trial by combat for the throne of the Kree/Skrull empire.
As Tony Stark and Reed Richards get the news of Wakanda's fall and the Kree plot, Reed dons the Fantastic Four style armor Tony's been constructing.
Empyre #6 – the conclusion of the core series – is due out September 2.