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War of Kings #1

Posted: Tuesday, March 3, 2009
By: Kurt Taylor Lane

Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning
Paul Pelletier (p), Rick Magyar (i), Wil Quintana (colors)
Marvel Comics
Editor's Note: War of Kings #1 arrives in stores tomorrow, March 4.

Summary: A reunited Starjammers make their way to the Kree Empire to attend the wedding of Crystal and Ronan the Accuser. After the team arrives, Lilandra seeks asylum from her former kingdom, now being ruled by Vulcan. During the royal ceremony, the Shi'ar Imperial Guard strikes. After both sides suffer casualties and wounded, Lilandra is taken by the Imperial Guard and teleported away. After this brutal assault, Medusa declares vengeance.

Comments: While "War of Kings" sounds like a name of a progressive metal band, it's Marvel's next big story this year, hands down. After Marvel's Annihilation got me pumped up about the 616 outside of Earth, this new story arc is shaping up to be a classic. While recent major Marvel events built up nicely only to disappoint at the end (Civil War, Secret Invasion), Annihilation was one of those great epic tales that didn't fail in any aspect. Every interwoven title worked its magic, and it is a frequent recommendation of mine, outside of various Vertigo titles.

The royal wedding of Crystal and Ronan the Accuser is explained as a political union to solidify the Inhumans and the Kree by Crystal herself. It's a logical plot point that seems likely, further cemented by Polaris' passive-aggressive comments about Ronan. The Kree-Inhuman relationship isn't exactly a Sunday afternoon picnic, and this is a prime example of the overtones of tension that are present. Makes sense when you reflect on it, after the city of Attilan becomes a giant space shuttle and lands at the Kree's front doorstep. What looks to be brewing is a fight on several fronts for the Inhumans, A diplomatic affair to align the Kree with themselves and a full scale battle with Shi'ar. Ronan overhears Crystal's clarification of the wedding being out of unification not love, which seems to upset him. After following his exploits in Annihilation, he didn't seem like the settling down type. Brings a human touch to these aliens, and it's obviously this is something they are going to explore in the future.

After the ceremony gets underway, a shape shifter under Shi'ar employment suicide bombs the Kree protective barrier, making an opening for the Imperial Guard to attack. This battle is like a cheap hair removal waxing, both quick and brutal. A lot of death and serious wounding taking place, which brings up a good point about the freedom of using Marvel characters outside of the mainstream making for better stories (if in the hands of a good writer of course). Marvel's marketing team isn't going to freak out about some Inhuman Royal Guardsmen losing a leg or a Shi'ar big shot taking a frag to the jaw. It's not like those Lockjaw action figures are flying off of the shelves, and I think the writers know this. If you where handed a title like Daredevil or Fantastic Four to write, even if you did a good job, people will always say that so and so did a better one. If you're given something involving the Starjammers or Beta Ray Bill and turn it into a great read, the creditability means more.

Only two things in this issue went sour for me. The first was the obvious foreshadowing of a turn on Vulcan from Gladiator. His inner monologue calls Vulcan out as "not Shi'ar born, but a mutant human usurper driven by his own ambitions" but remarks that he has "loyalty to the office not the person." It might as well read "In about four to five issues of this, I'm completely turning on you." I wouldn't mind being proven wrong, but somehow I completely doubt it's going any other way but that.

Second, Lilandra's asylum request was very counterproductive. Taking place before the ceremony, Maximus questions the reaction of Vulcan to finding out about Lilandra seeking asylum, only to have Lilandra borderline warmongering. Medusa remarks that a war between Shi'ar and Inhumans/Kree "is not something we intend to pursue." Afterwards, Lilandra "warns" the Inhumans of the Imperial Guard in almost an odd, unintentional threat. This is exactly how it read for me.

"Dude, do you mind if I crash here for a while?"

"I don't know, man. Those guys you where hanging around with are pretty crazy."

"I know, right? Someone, you know, should, oh I don't know, do something about them?"

"Yeah, I just don't know if that's really something I want to get involved with."

"You're probably right. They most likely would be kicking your ass and eating their cereal out of your skulls anyways."

Final Word: Aside from a few issues here and there, I've been out of the Marvel loop. Besides catching up on some brilliant work from other publishers lately, I've been waiting for a good Marvel storyline to keep me busy for a while, and I think War of Kings is just what I needed.







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