In making use of a spiritual quest similar to many earthly rites-of-passage rituals to be found across the globe, writer Alex Pakandel – making his Marvel debut with Lord of Empyre: Celestial Messiah #1 – comes upon a very effective way of informing readers of the histories of both Mantis, the Celestial Madonna, and the Swordsman, while also entertaining us too and giving us more to Quo’s own motivations too. Reliving the budding romances of Mantis and the Swordsman one more time is but one of the many trips down memory lane that Quoi takes woven together on his journey to glory and enlightenment. Although, he doesn’t have too much vegetable love to share with his mom, who has used some kind of cosmic osmosis to inhabit a plant-based being in order to confront her own son and try to talk some sense into him. As this is a book that’s set before Empyre #4, I think we can all guess how this particular tête-à-tête concludes.
While artist Alex Lins largely reminds me of a young Mark Buckingham, some of the larger splashier panels suffer from a lack of definition in the art and it can come off as rather unfinished. The recounting of the Swordsman/Mantis, Vision/Wanda double-marriage being a good example of this. Although, the color art of Matt Yackey help to cover up these infrequent lapses in the quality of art. Overall though, the art works well, and some of his compositional choices outweigh the more unpolished art in this special issue, such as the early appearance of Mantis who divides the page up with her body acting as the division between panels.
Throughout it all Quoi remains steadfast in his desire to turn his back on his own cultural heritage. He is one part flesh, after all, but would rather he wasn’t. Let’s not forget, he is trying to wipe out all animal life in the whole dang universe! But, where does that put him as a person of mixed-heritage? Something we are reminded of in one particular vision in which a young Quoi is seen growing up in suburbia amongst human children.
To me, Quoi is still a child at odds with both sides to his identity, and as such is struggling. By deciding to side with photosynthetic life rather than blood and guts suggests he may think he’s finally come to terms with his mixed heritage, but in denying one half of that heritage, can only lead to trouble before this is all over. For now though, Lord of Empyre: Celestial Messiah #1 is a great issue giving readers insight into Quoi, the man, the plant, the Celestial Messiah.
Lord of Empyre: Celestial Messiah #1 is out now from Marvel