Monday, July 27, 2015

War of Kings - Comic Review

From the publisher: In an effort to punish the Skrulls for their attempted Invasion, the Inhumans chase down a Skrull vessel, only to accidentally destroy a Shi'Ar ship instead, enraging the Shi'Ar emperor, the powerful mutant Vulcan. The Inhumans find themselves allied with the Kree against a Vulcan-led Shi'Ar incursion.

In recent years, largely due to my really cool Marvel Unlimited subscription I've really come to love comics, not only for their great art but also for their phenomenal story telling.  Recently, while reading some of my favorites I came across War of Kings. A  comic book crossover story line with almost forty tie-ins to Nova, Guardians of the Galaxy, Darkhawk and The X-Men, War of Kings is a huge story that puts not only the universe in danger but also the fabric of space and time itself. It sounds like a problem worthy of the Doctor's skills but without a T.A.R.D.I.S. in sight, Marvel's space-born heroes must make due on their own. Published by Marvel Comics, the story ran from November 2008 through August 2009 and was written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, and published by Marvel Comics.

With a universe as big as Marvel's and a story this large I thought I'd be lost in all the nuances, jumping into a new story line connected to so many others. Some of the characters I'd never heard of before. Vulcan, Darkhawk, Gladiator, Crystal and a number of other characters were all new to me, but the story was concise enough and the characters compelling enough to pull me through the initial confusion and suck me into the story.  

And War of Kings is a spectacular story. It explores the ideas of what makes a good ruler, of the morality of war, first strikes, over-whelming force. But it's not preachy. It's not even biased. Some times the bad guys are  better leaders than the heroes. Some times the good guys' actions cause outcomes worse than what the villains had planned. There are twists and turns, that keep the pages turning, gripping action, character deaths and the beginning of new story lines. Basically, there is a lot packed into these issues. A lot worth reading.

Three of the five factions of the War of Kings stumble into a battle.

The thing that continually impresses me with comics is their ability to use only dialogue and imagery to tell a story. The way they use exposition in the dialogue can often be clunky (i.e. "My mutant powers allow me to control the very elements!") but other times it's brilliantly done. I can actually excuse the clunky parts because they're necessary for readers like myself who have not been following every story line and character for the past twenty-five years.

What to know: I like Marvel's space heroes because they tend to be a little more family friendly. Still there are a few things parents and young readers should know about them. There is a hefty amount of violence, some blood and swearing, though it's mostly redacted (i.e. %&$^$#!). Female characters are often in skintight costumes that leave little to the imagination, though I'm please that they're getting better. Some of the Guardians of the Galaxy and Nova Corps are actually dressed in costumes I'd let my daughter wear. There are several implied sexual relationships (nothing is ever shown beyond kissing) both hetero and gay.

Over all, War of Kings is an impressive bit of story telling. The art is staggeringly intricate and beautiful at times. Personally, I thought it well worth the read. The end especially is pretty fantastic. You can find issues on Amazon, Barnes and Nobel, Comixology and of course Marvel Unlimited.

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