Saturday, March 7, 2009

War of Kings #1 Review

Creative Team
Writer: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Artist: Paul Pelletier
Inker: Rick Magyar
Colorist: Wil Quintana

Story - Asunder

War of Kings #1 is exactly how every big event should start their story. This issue gives us all the action and drama you would expect from a big event and when you add in the fact that this war between two galactic powers will span the whole universe, not just one planet, War of Kings is set up to deliver everything that Secret Invasion and Final Crisis weren't able to: intrigue and execution.

What is incredible about this event is that DnA, along with Keith Giffen who wrote the original Annihilation, have almost single (double) handily built up all of these cosmic characters Marvel has long been ignored and tap into the great potential each one of them had. It's funny that with all the iconic characters Marvel and DC have it has been their cosmic titles that I have become their most interesting aspect of both companies. What makes it even more funny is that when you start thinking about it, it was two mini-series, one for each company, that started the rise of both cosmic universes: Green Lantern: Rebirth (DC) and Annihilation (Marvel). Before those two mini-series all of their cosmic characters were just another part of each of their larger universe. But now these two cosmic corners are thought of as their own seperate universes.

DnA did a great job having all of the dialogue in this issue have a nice pleasent flow and never having any of the dialogue of all the various characters feel forced. While DnA made it look easy they both had their work cut out for them due to all the stories that have lead to this event that they did not have a hand in writing. This event builds of X-Men Deadly Genesis, Rise and Fall of the Shi'ar Empire, X-Men: Emperor Vulcan and Kingbreaker, Silent War, Secret Invasion, and Secret Invasion: Inhumans. That is a tall list of events and somehow DnA were still able to make War of Kings still have a new reader friendly feel to it.

The whole sequence of when Vulcan is having Gladiator run down the list of his Guardsman had a sort of Arthurian feel to it with the Guardsman playing a similar role to Arthur's Knights of the Roundtable. Even though the Shi'ar Empire are suppose to be the bad guys of this series DnA provide enough character work on the Shi'ar warriors that has a part of you rooting for this group to win or at least get out of Vulcan's rule. This is all done by having most of the Shi'ar scenes being told through the eyes of Gladiator to show that these are warriors who are not necessarily loyal to whoever is their Emperor/Empress but to the sense of honor of being a Guardsman of the Shi'ar Empire holds. The only character that does not follow this is Vulcan who is the villain every story needs that has no redeemable quality to him other than being someone who you hope gets his ass kicked at the end of the story.

On the other side of the spectrum we have the Inhuman lead Kree Emipire who have an Ancient Rome feel. Everything leading up to the weeding of Ronan and Crystal screamed politics that you see in those old Roman stories. I liked how Crystal, who was opposed to the Inhumans becoming proactive, has come around and support what the Inhumans are doing. Though it does seem that there is some truth behind what Polaris told Crystal about her words sounding like she was scripted to say that by Medusa or someone else.

I felt bad for Ronan when he heard Crystal's words about the marriage being not about love but politics. Seeing him hold some roses and then drop them as he heard those words come out of Crystal's mouth was a great visual. After being one of the heroes of the two Annihilation events, and countless other battles the Kree have been involved with, and leading his people when they needed him most makes Ronan a very sympathetic character. It was very cool to see that it took three Guardsman to take down the powerhouse that is Ronan during the Shi'ar/Kree meele and I hope that he is not actually dead but just out of commission for a few issues.

Speaking of the battle, Pelletier did an awesome job with the whole issue and the huge battle had a lot of weight to it. Pelletier gave this whole issue a nice clean look with plenty of eye candy for the reader as each panel was packed with characters and some great backgrounds. The image of Gladiator leading the Guardsman and the rest of the Shi'ar warriors was just a great spread page that gave the scene a powerful start to the invasion.

The only thing that I did not like about this issue is the fact that Black Bolt was quickly taken down by a convenient deus ex mechina that block his powers long enough for him to be knocked out by the Gladiator. But since this is the first issue we can't really have the two big powerhouses of each side, Black Bolt and Vulcan, flex their muscles to much since they are such powerful characters that the war would be over quickly. I can't wait to see a Black Bolt vs Gladiator rematch since even though Black Bolt was knocked out all that accomplished was ripping a part of his costume as we see him without a scratch.

Issue Rating
Story: 8.6/10 - DnA did a great job with giving plenty of dialogue that makes the reader become instantly familiar with each character without having to read previous interations of the characters.
Art: 9/10 - Pelletier art was a joy to see and more than makes up for his absence from Guardians of the Galaxy. He is able to give this story about to empires in a war plenty of weight through his artwork.
Overall: 8.8/10 - This was a great start to the war between the Shi'ar and the Inhuman lead Kree Empires. Throw in the Starjammers, Guardians of the Galaxy, and the Nova Corps and this event has all the potential to be an epic story.