Empire is a comic book by Mark Waid and Barry Kitson about... well, Exactly What It Says on the Tin. A totalitarian Empire has conquered most of the world, led by the power-armored genius supervillain Golgoth. The world's greatest superheroes are all dead, and the last bastions of freedom are cut off, outmatched, and being overrun. Nothing can stop Golgoth's drive for total world domination.
Or can it? The Empire, while mighty, is not without its own problems. The bevy of psychopaths that make up the government's elite are constantly scheming to advance their causes over their fellows', and occasionally over their leader. Golgoth himself, meanwhile, has a weakness that his enemies are trying to exploit.
Empire is one of the few comics to do Darker and Edgier right. The art is immersive and the story, though grim, is a very competent look into how a world ruled by super-villains would actually work. The first two issues were published in 2000 by Gorilla Comics, a brief-lived imprint of Image Comics. After Gorilla folded, the series was picked up (in 2003) and completed by DC Comics, although the events and characters in it are distinctly separate from the main DCU.
This comic contains examples of:
- Addiction-Powered: Inverted. Golgoth keeps his minions controlled by feeding them an addictive super-powering drug called Eucharist. The inversion comes in that the drug comes from the hero Endymion's blood. His superhuman biology creates other people's addictions.
- After the End: By the time the comics begin, Golgoth and co. have already conquered most of the world.
- All Women Are Doms, All Men Are Subs: Partially applied; only men are shown as subject to the gentle ministrations of Tumbril and his leather-clad female assistants (and Xanna and Grieze during their off-hours).
- Answers to the Name of God: After Lucullan has been chewing out Golgoth for neglecting his empire.Golgoth: Is that all?Lucullan: For now.Golgoth: Then come along Delfi.Lucullan: Oh dear God.Golgoth: You may call me Golgoth.
- Break the Cutie: Endymion's treatment is a very comprehensive breaking. Ambassador Rasmussen also gets this, though a different way.
- The Caligula: Golgoth, in the sequel series. Among other things, he orders a compulsory global moment of silence on the anniversary of Delfi's death, under pain of death. It's implied that the act of killing his own daughter has increasingly driven him into being this.
- The Cape: Endymion. And good God, does he suffer for it.Endymion: I learned to hate you, you know. Not at first. For the longest time, I held out hope that you could be brought around somehow. Would you like to know what eventually broke me down? How you'd go out of your way to make sure everyone's dying scream was "Endymion, help me!".
- Cherry Tapping: When Golgoth's forces surround the last of the Old World armies in Aswan, they have enough airpower to flatten the city in minutes. Instead, they take the time to build a gigantic bridge before sending in only ground forces to finish them off.
- The Chessmaster: Golgoth and Lucullan.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Golgoth's entire inner circle has an incredibly advanced case of it.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: Loads. Xanna, Grieze, and Tumbril all do it as a recreational activity, though with Tumbril it's also his job. However, he enjoys it so much he might as well be doing it for free.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Lucullan. The whole Malaproper thing is a front to make people underestimate him (and it works, too). It's not entirely an act for him, though, giving how he fumbles with his words when apologizing to Golgoth for failing to gain any information or technology about the resistance's alien benefactors in Greenland.
- Crusading Widower: A villainous example, as it's implied that, as ruthless as Golgoth was in his early career, his marriage to Allorea tempered him. The way Endymion tells it, Golgoth becomes a full-fledged No-Nonsense Nemesis after Allorea's death.Endymion: For a while, I actually imagined I'd worn you down. Our encounters seemed more... mannered, somehow. More routine. It was almost as if your drive for domination had... I don't know, stalled. Faded. But then... then came New York. That was the beginning of the end. I met your wife more than once, Golgoth. Allorea? Beautiful name. I know you loved her. I also know her suicide changed you. In fact, I'd go so far as to claim it made you the man you are today.
- Daddy's Girl: Delfi is a combination of this, Psycho Supporter, and Stepford Smiler.
- Dark Secret: Golgoth's is not what you would expect: Halfway through his crusade to become master of the world it hit him how hard it was going to be maintaining control and realized he no longer wanted the job. The murder of his wife drove him to finish it off but Golgoth has lost his taste for conquest and would much rather give up. But he knows it's only his iron hand keeping order of the globe, without him, the world falls into chaos and thus must keep up the illusion of the ruthless tyrant to hold the planet together.
- Decoy Protagonist: The first issue is told through the eyes of one member of Golgoth's inner circle, the one man who considers himself the emperor's friend, trying to find out who is plotting to murder him. He succeeds in stopping an assassination attempt and it appears he'll be rewarded and continue as our eyes into this world. Instead, Golgoth kills him because he feels the man's belief that Gogloth needed to be protected and saved "proves" he's not as loyal as he claims to be.
- Depraved Bisexual: Xanna. Emphasis on "depraved."
- The Empire: Obviously.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Crucial to Golgoth's backstory and character arc is his wife and daughter.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Lohkyn expresses horror when he finds out that Delfi (the underage girl he's been giving drugs to and having sex with) murdered her own mother.
- When Delfi asks for mercy only to set the guards on Lohkyn anyway, Golgoth's eyes widen in visible horror.
- Evil Is Dumb: The entire series is a comprehensive, horrible aversion.
- Evil Overlord: Golgoth, obviously, though he's much more hands-on than most.
- Evil Parents Want Good Kids: Golgoth has conquered the entire world, he rules with an iron fist, he's killed or captured every superhero around, he slaughters people at the drop of a hat... and he works very hard to keep all of this from his beloved daughter, whom he tries to raise normally in every way.
- The Faceless: We never once see Golgoth's face, even in flashbacks; it's implied that he hasn't removed his mask since his wife died.
- Fate Worse than Death: If you're lucky, they'll just shoot you.
- Genius Bruiser: This trope IS Golgoth.
- Government Drug Enforcement: Unusually for this trope, it's not applied to the public at large, but rather as a narcotic leash to keep Golgoth's inner circle in line.
- Harmful to Minors: Not to mention everyone else.
- HeelFace Mole: Lucallan does this to the Greenland Resistance. With Devastating results
- Klingon Promotion: Averted, surprisingly. Golgoth's drive still doesn't allow for this tactic and any such attempts amongst subordinates are ruthlessly stamped on.
- Malaproper: Lucullan, in an often-hilariously failed attempt at Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness. Best example:Lucullan: I failed you, and am cognizant of the causatum. . . the res— resid— residuum. . .
Lucullan: I know the consequences.
- Manipulative Editing: Information Minister Kafra takes this to new heights. He is able to almost instantly alter any news feed and video to present the picture the Empire wants. A major example is when Golgoth finally staged his invasion of the United States. The U.S. President did a live broadcast meant to be a Rousing Speech to get the nation to fight Golgoth to the last man. But Kafra edited it in a split second so it became the defeated President urging his citizens to surrender and not fight back, thus allowing Golgoth to conquer America in days.
- Man in the Machine: Information Minister Kafra, and after his assassination, his assistant Dess.
- Meaningful Name: Golgoth, Tumbril, the Qaron.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Golgoth knows full well who's really to blame for how his daughter turned out.
- No Delays for the Wicked
- Out-Gambitted: Kafra has Xanna snared in one of these until Grieze uses a more direct solution. Also, what's going on with the resistance in Greenland.
- Powered by a Forsaken Child: Eucharist is powered by a forsaken Endymion.
- Psycho Serum: What Eucharist withdrawal does.
- Pyrrhic Villainy: Golgoth wins, but it's heavily implied to be a hollow victory since he's lost everything that's important to him in the process, and it's highly unlikely that his empire will survive him.
- "Ray of Hope" Ending: The ending sees Golgoth utterly victorious... but Lohkyn meets up with La Résistance, who are implied to be a more credible threat to the Empire than the Golgoth-controlled media has made them out to be.Carla: Having some issues with authority, I take it? Join the club.
- Red Shirt: Lt. McOrly, on account of being Too Dumb to Live.
- The Remnant: They're the good guys. What's left of them.
- Super Serum: Eucharist, a highly addictive substance that supercharges the abilities of those who take it. People under it's influence can dodge bullets, and the high is described as "Better Than Sex." The secret of its production is one of the major running subplots.
- Take Over the World: In the backstory, they've already accomplished most of it. They finish the job in the main plot.
- Take a Third Option: How Grieze deals with Kafra's attempt to blackmail Xanna.
- Tragic Villain: Golgoth is explicitly intended as one, winning the world at the cost of his family.
- Villain World: Duh!
- Was It Really Worth It?: There are hints that Golgoth believes that no it really wasn't.
- Wham Episode: About the final third of the series is ascending Wham Episodes.
- Wham Line:Golgoth: You killed your mother.
Delfi: Well, someone had too.
- You Have Failed Me: The core of Golgoth's employee-relations and human resources policies.