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Comic Book / Empress

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Mark Millar writes a Space Opera.

65 million years ago (A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, you could say), Queen Emporia escapes her throneworld with her bodyguard Dane, daughter Aine, and sons Adam and Puck. Tired of her husband Morax's cruelty, Emporia aims to take shelter with her sister. However, the Hair Trigger Tempered Morax is insulted by his wife's disobedience and puts out a bounty on her and Dane.

Becoming targets, Emporia and company must travel world-to-world, seek aid from willing and trustworthy allies and avoid the terrors the galaxy has to offer in order to reach safe grounds.

This series provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Morax sees his children only as his legacy, not as people he loves or cares about. In fact, he plans on executing them once he captures them and Emporia, simply for reminding him of her.
  • Action Girl: Aine, following in her mother's footsteps.
  • Action Mom: Emporia plays with this in that for most of the series she comes off as about as capable as the average person in combat. Then she reveals in the ending that she was a former gladiator and quickly kills off Morax in single combat.
  • Bad Boss: Morax kills one of his commanders for failing to capture Emporia and her children.
  • Big Sister Instinct: Aine won't let anybody harm her brothers on her watch.
  • Bodyguard Crush: Emporia and Dane eventually start sleeping together.
  • A Boy, a Girl, and a Baby Family: Emporia and Morax's children, Adam, Aine and Puck.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Aine to an extent. She butts heads with her mother over her decision to flee from Morax, ignoring how much of a psychopath her father is, and instead thinks that Emporia's true reasons for leaving is because of her loving Dane. This eventually drives her to call Morax and let him know of their current location, which nearly gets her and her family killed.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: The Quez are all about money. They're so greedy they let people ruin their bodies. Spoken verbatim.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Three separate facts seeded through the story turn out to be instrumental in the climax.
    • The Quez offer people the service of a body-swapped vacation, letting Quez work out in the clients' bodies while the clients pig out in the Quez's bodies in a luxury spa. Emporia's sister and brother-in-law turn out to be on such a vacation, and the Quez inhabiting their bodies try to sell Emporia and her children out to Morax when they come seeking shelter.
    • The fact that the Quez are willing to let their bodies be ruined for money because they are so incredibly greedy. And therefore by extension also cheap and unwilling to spend more money than necessary on anything.
    • Tor's technokinesis, and the fact that it doesn't work on any ship that's even slightly new. So it's lucky that the Quez are too cheap to splurge on a new ship.
  • Child Prodigy: Adam is so efficient with machinery that it's stated multiple times that for him, a junkyard is a workshop.
  • Control Freak: King Morax is obsessed with keeping the rest of the galaxy cowed by his rule.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Tor can control technology, but only if it predates the One Day War. Meaning that he can control barely any technology, since the One Day War was some time ago and most people have upgraded their equipment since then.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Emporia vs Morax. Emporia wins.
  • Daddy's Girl: In Aine's mind, her father can do no wrong, justifying everything he does, and she doesn't understand why her mother would take them away from him, making her resentful at least until Daddy Dearest shows his true colors, backhanding her and stating in no uncertain terms that she and her brothers will not be spared.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Morax is introduced sentencing a group of men to death for insufficient loyalty. Because while they reported one of their friends for speaking out against Morax, they didn't immediately rip the dissident to pieces with their bare hands.
  • Evil Overlord: King Morax controls much of the galaxy and rules it with an iron fist.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Staying at her sister Valeria's place, Emporia notes how both her and her brother-in-law Lars seem different than when she saw them last. This is because their bodies were being controlled by Quez, who were hired to take care of their bodies while Lars and Valeria were on a telepathic vacation.
    • Emporia spends some time explaining how she was a different person in her past. Everyone assumed that she was speaking about how she used to be a waitress. But then the book reminds the audience that when Emporia first met Morax, she explicitly said she wasn't a waitress and was only there to fill in for her friend's shift.
  • Galactic Conqueror: Morax fits the mold being a giant alien tyrant of a galactic empire known for his cruelty and ruthlessness.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: The mother of Aine, Puck and Adam is a human while there father is a large, red-skinned alien. Aine takes after her father in appearance while her brothers more resemble their mother.
    • Subverted in that the opening narration explicitly states that the story takes place long before humans existed, meaning that any "human" character is actually a Human Alien.
  • Just Eat Gilligan: Emporia turns out to be far more powerful than Morax and is able to kick his ass in a matter of minutes. Despite this, she goes through with an elaborate escape plan requiring Dane's help all the while acting as if she would face dire consequences at her husband's hand if she was ever caught. Even though it's eventually revealed she could've laid him out anytime she wanted.
    • Possibly Justified, since Emporia indicates that she was ashamed of her career as a cage fighter, and likely wanted to avoid using those skills again unless she had no other alternatives.
      • Another justification could be that while she's pretty much unstoppable in hand-to-hand combat, she likely misses several critical skills she'd need to make good on her getaway even if she did kill Morax, including hacking, wilderness survival, military and ranged weapons training/countermeasures, and ship piloting; she wants to get her children away from the brutality of their father's regime, which may have been impossible if she'd just killed him in their home.
  • Kill It Through Its Stomach: Double-subverted. Dane and Puck get swallowed by an alien monster, and Tor is first confident that this trope will result. But when the monster just keeps attacking and there is no word from Dane over the comm-link, Tor starts panicking along with the others. And then Dane blasts his way out of the creature's stomach, apologising for the radio silence - he just couldn't get the comm-link to work in there.
  • Large and in Charge: King Morax is the ruler of the galaxy and towers over all of his subordinates.
  • Make an Example of Them: Morax kills Chief Bozz to demonstrate the consequences of failure.
  • Mama Bear: The reason why she's leaving Morax; she refuses to allow her children to be raised in such a brutal environment.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Siblings Aine and Adam. She's a ruthless warrior who loves her brutal father at least until he declares that he's going to kill her while he's a mild-mannered engineer who thought it was only a matter of time before his father killed him for being too soft.
  • Morally Bankrupt Banker: Emporia, who was married to a brutal dictator, considers her brother-in-law the worst man she's ever met. Who is he? A banker.
  • Murderous Thighs: Emporia finishes off Morax by crushing his neck between her thighs.
  • Muscles Are Meaningless: Emporia easily beats down Morax with no effort, despite being around half his size.
  • Neck Snap: How Emporia kills Morax.
  • Never Trust a Title: A very small example, but Emporia is explicitly a queen, not an empress.
  • Offing the Offspring: Morax intends to have his children put to death once he finds them, as their existence serves as a constant reminder of his wife's disobedience.
  • The Paranoiac: King Morax is a Control Freak who views even the slightest dissidence as a threat to his rule, to the point that anything less than outright killing any dissenters is seen as "encouraging their outspoken behavior". His primary motivation for hunting down Emporia is that he fears that the rest of the galaxy will lose their fear of him if he cannot even control his wife.
  • Remembered I Could Fly: It isn't until the very end of the series that Emporia reveals that she's a former gladiator capable of quickly killing Morax.
  • Repressive, but Efficient: As over-the-top horrible as Morax's reign is, he's also managed to maintain peace for over a century in a region that used to be stuck in a Forever War. He mentions casually that he's the first man of his family in over a thousand years to live past the age of twenty-two.
  • Robot Buddy: Ship, a small hovering drone who's Tor's best friend.
  • Space Opera: Very explicitly so.
  • Technopath: Tor can control any type of machinery that was in commission during the One Day War or before. Any ship that was made more recently escapes his command. Good thing the Quez are such skinflints.
  • You Have Failed Me: Morax executes Chief Bozz with his bare hands when he fails to capture Emporia and the children.