Pick of the Week

May 6, 2009 – War of Kings #3

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397
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Avg Rating: 4.6
iFanboy Community Pick of the Week Percentage: 30.4%
 
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Size: pages
Price: 3.99

After the past few years of all this talk about event books in comics and how much of a burden they can be on readers. We complained and moaned about how they interrupt the flow of some titles and introduce books that you have to buy, even if you don’t want to. And in all that complaining and at times, whining, we forget that there have always been events and crossovers in comics dating back to the Silver Age, and every now and then, they can be pretty good.

With that thought, I chuckle at the irony of actually picking an event book that is proving the point of what we often forget. War of Kings #3 is the third issue of a six issue miniseries that is written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, with art by Paul Pelletier and has its origins from within the pages of Nova, Guardians of the Galaxy, and several other miniseries. War of Kings has been a wonderful crossover event experience for me, and while this issue places us right in the middle of the event, I can honestly say that at no point yet has it gone wrong.

Part of the success of this event, I believe, is owed to the orchestration of Abnett and Lanning in the plotting AND scripting of the main portions of this event. Sure other writers have chimed in (i.e. C.B. Cebulski on War of Kings: Darkhawk), but it’s obvious that Abnett and Lanning are steering this ship. And why shouldn’t they? Ever since the dust settled with Annihilation, Abnett and Lanning have been a safe bet when it comes to their writing on Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy. Bringing 1970s-esque Marvel style science-fiction/action to today and doing it in such a way that makes these books both exciting and accessible is no easy feat, and yet they pull it off week in and week out. There’s an ongoing joke about how Nova can’t sustain an ongoing title, and yet here we are in the mid-20s of issues on Nova and it keeps getting better.

This specific event takes those cosmic pieces that Abnett and Lanning have been playing with, Nova and the Guardians of the Galaxy and mixes them with the Inhumans, the Kree and the Shi’ar. If you step back and look at that those pieces, you see the Inhumans who have pretty much been used and cast aside in other events (World War Hulk and Secret Invasion) but left without purpose or direction. You also see the Kree, who after the elimination of the Skrulls as their mortal enemies and the decimation of their people in Annihilation have been left sitting out in the universe useless. And the Shi’Ar, the classic X-Men influenced alien race left hanging after Ed Brubaker’s dalliance with the X-Men ended, their world upside down with Vulcan, the spurned third Summers brother as a self established emperor (after a series of forgettable mini-series). Additionally you have the StarJammers, more X-Men cosmic folk, now led by Havok, who have suffered as well with the forgettable mini-series related to Vulcan and the Shi’Ar. On paper, that sounds like a lot of characters, a lot of worlds, and a lot of potential for some good stories, if done right.

I have to admit, when this event was announced, I was skeptical. I’m a huge fan of Abnett and Lanning’s work, but even though there is a ton of potential with these characters, it could easy go in the opposite direction and simply not be any good. But man am I happy to say that they continue to kick ass and not disappoint.

War of Kings #3 is one of the first issues that involves the mixing of all the players together. We see Crystal of the Inhumans becoming a leader within the Kree as her new husband Ronan the Accuser mends. We learn of the Inhumans plans, or rather hopes for plans, for the Kree as a race, which makes that story VERY interesting now. We see Empress Lilandra of the Shi’Ar a captive of Vulcan as the StarJammers and the Guardians of the Galaxy attack to spring her out, which leads to a predictable, but satisfying turn at the end of the issue. Intrigue, compelling story and awesome space action made this issues to be a great mid point.

Paul Pelletier’s artwork I feel should be recognized as well as I think at first glance, it could be easily dismissed. But Pelletier is able to take his style, which almost is like Alan Davis mixed with Dale Eaglesham, and create dynamic and involving scenes. With alien races and space ships, this sort of title should be fun for an artist and it’s clear that not only is Pelletier having fun with this, but he’s nailing it, along with Rick Magyar’s inks and Wil Quintana on colors to make for a fantastic comic book.

This corner of the Marvel Universe is easily one of my favorites right now. Mainly due to the quality of the story and how engrossing it’s become, but also because each week it’s the pleasant surprise in my stack. After more than two years of these stories, you’d think by now I’d stop waiting for the shoe to drop . The hype is totally justified and I’m a believer.  I can’t wait for this summer’s batch of books to see how War of Kings turns out and I can’t wait to hold up this event as one of the good ones.

Ron Richards
Although, isn’t Maximus evil?
ron@ifanboy.com

Comments

  1. Holy crap, you’re the man Ron. Jw why did you score the Flash higher, but gave War the pick? This series has been amazing so far and you don’t need to be reading anything else to enjoy it. Pick it up!

  2. Great pick, great issue.  I’ve been catching up with NOVA & GUARDIANS and this is just more of that fun.  There’s a bit with Rocket Raccoon toward the end of this issue that had me not just giggling but laughing so hard I had to put the book down.  Great series & I can’t wait to see what happens next.

  3. Minute I saw this on the front page, I thought "Ah, so Ron had the pick." But excellent choice, this has been a great series so far.

  4. Interesting…..Mike Romo just did an article of the calm before events….yet you Ron Richards picked an event as the pick. Conspiracy prehaps?

    Joking aside, great review. I’m trade waiting on this event. Human Torch 70th Anniversary was my pick.

  5. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    What would the conspiracy be?  

    Very excited to read War of Kings in trade with Wikipedia. Most exciting corner of comics I know next to nothing about.   

  6. So, I’ve been hearing good things about this… as well as Guardians and Nova. Question: Is the first issue of this mini a good place to START? Should I go back and pick up some Guardians or Nova first? I kinda don’t want to get involved in going all the way back to Annihilation, etc. Just looking for a good spot to jump in and check it out. Opinions?

    So far, I’ve only read World of New Krypton and Flash: Rebirth this week. I enjoyed both, but I have to give the edge to Krypton, because it was a really good story, while i felt like Flash was trying to hard to explain and update the Silver Age.

  7. Despite all the Abnett and Lanning love recently, I did not see this one coming.

    …maybe I should start picking up some of these cosmic books…might give the first Nova trade a try.

  8. Really?!

  9. @Paul: Oh I have my theories….

    *is sitting down with an empty notebook*

    Come on, write something down for me!

  10. @daccampo-You are in luck friend!  Read War of Kings Saga, available for free on Marvel’s website, and then the Secret Invasion: War of Kings one-shot.  After that, pick up the first issue of the mini and you are all set.  Thats what I did and I understand everything that is going on.

    Great choice Ron.  This really is one of the best and most consistant "events" I’ve read in a good long while.  Not reading Nova or Guardians, but incredibly tempted to start after reading this issue.  Either way, I’m enjoying this series as a stand alone and would recommend it to anyone.

  11. @daccampo  Honestly, I think you can just pick up W0K from issue 1 and get the gist.  The story unfolds clearly enough, and the art avoids any confusion about who is who.  I mean, honestly, I think somebody could start with this issue and still be able to follow the beats of the story, if not the larger politics.  I’ve certainly only read a fraction of the books that feed into this and I’m doing fine.

    @edward FYI, issue 2 of LIFE AND TIMES OF SAVIOR 28 came out this week.  It continues to be a satisfying story and should make a great trade.

     

     

  12. Unlike DC, Marvel uses recap pages so you could probably jump in anywhere!  But, I would suggest reading Guardians of the Galaxy #13 too!

  13. @itiscritical Serious question: Do they work because I really, really hate recap pages. All the way back to when X-Men books had those weird gatefold covers that showed you who was on the team and what the current story was. (Late 90s I believe.)

    Good pick, good review. Mine was Iron Man. I think, empirically, Flash was the best book this week, but I didn’t feel anything for it, so I get why you gave Flash a 5/5 but picked War of Kings. This was a good issue and rejazzed me for the event, because Issue two felt like a whole lot of nothing to me. But I can’t say you guys have ever made a pick I couldn’t agree with, or at the very least, understand. 😉

    Sidenote: Why does Havok have Bart Simpson hair on the cover? 🙂 

  14. @Prax: I’m no big fan of recap pages either.  I would always rather read the comics than a page of prose at the beginning.  But, if someone’s new to a book, the recap page is very helpful.  And, I kind of like those pages where it lists the casts of characters, especially in stories with a lot of characters…

  15. Awesome pick…awesome book.

  16. @itiscritical Yeah, I get that. But I have the same reaction to recap pages that many fans have to that issue of Batman Morrison did that was prose. :-p

  17. Yup another book I want to read but don’t have the time to… I’ve set my sights on getting the NOVA, GOTG, back issues and am loving them, thank you very much. Great POW though Ron!

  18. Can’t wait to see how this shakes out?  I can’t wait to see what the next summer Marvel Cosmic event is.  Hopefully, it remains it’s own corner and never gets all "Secret Wars" on us, pulling in the Avengers and the rest of Marvel continuity.

  19. @Ohcaroline: that is good news. Seriously iFanbase, check out The Life and Times Of Savoiur 28! It’s a really entertining examination of the motives of an architypial superhero

  20. I love Mad Scientist Maximus! It fits him perfectly.

  21. Excellent call, Ron.  This book RAWKS!  The Guardians stole the show, hands down.  Can’t decide if "Never doubt a raccoon" or "Engaging fist" is the best line.

    BTW, were you including "X-MEN: Kingbreaker" in the "miniseries with no importance"?  That was pretty good, and it’s got a lot of set-up material for War of Kings.  The previous ones, though, weren’t great or necessary, though I would also recommend the trade of "Uncanny X-Men: Rise and Fall of the Shi’ar Empire" as a primer on how things got to this point with Vulcan.  

    And here I thought you’d pick New Mutants.  I saw it got a three- good three or "eh" three?

  22. Man that Raccoon is bad ass. Good solid pick.

  23. Who would have thought that Rocket Raccoon would become the coolest mammal in the Marvel Universe?  I’m ready for him to come shoot Norman Osborn in the face with a rocket launcher.

  24. Maximus isn’t evil, he’s *nuts*.

     

  25.  twas good but not great

    I’m not sold on the Gladiator "twist"

  26. @wulfstone- C’mon, you knew that, at some point, that was going to happen.  What would have sold it more?

  27. You gave Flash a 5 and this a 4. I call shenanigans;)

  28. not really shenanigans, It’s called clicking the wrong star – mistakes happen – meant to make this a 5

  29. I usually avoid cosmic stuff because it bores the crap out of me, but you convinced me to check out the trade for this one.

  30. @BCI Gladiator has always been loyal to the throne not the person who sits on it

    This isn’t the first time Lilandra has been deposed and not the first mad Emperor he’s served under

    remember D’ken and Deathbird

  31. Thanks for the tips on WoK, folks!

    I still haven’t finished LoEG: Century yet, but that looks like it’s gonna be my PotW. Complicated, but oh so immsersive… you could spend hours pondering the different literary characters. And O’Neill’s artwork is amazing. 

    That said, it was a pretty enjoyable week for me overall. I still have some hesitations with Flash:Rebirth, but I definitely liked it. I really, really enjoyed World of New Krypton and Iron Man. Everything else was OK to pretty good.

  32. @wulfstone  That’s the point, though; he’s kept telling himself that, but when it comes to the choice of actually killing Lilandra, his personal feelings overcome his code.  I found that really powerful.  Now if it’s never mentioned or followed up on again, that’s lame, but I feel like it’s been building at least since the first issue of ‘War of Kings’. 

  33. I just feel if your going to go against 30 years of character history you better have a really good reason

    and DnA haven’t given me one yet

  34. @wulfstone- What is the throne?  It represents the power of the Shi’ar vested in their leader.  D’Ken and Deathbird were wackjobs, but Vulcan makes them look sane.  He is definitely not good for the Shi’ar.  Did you see the "Dark Guard" he assembled in Kingbreaker?  The entire Royal Guard dropped their jaws when they saw what he was willing to employ for his ends.  He’s breaking out nega bombs with impunity.  With D’Ken, Gladiator never knew better; also, D’Ken was not a great character originally (standard megalomaniac with delusions of grandeur).  With Deathbird, she at least was Shi’ar and thought she was doing what was right (more interesting character than D’Ken).  Lilandra is best for the Shi’ar, and that is ultimately who Gladiator is loyal to.  Give Abnett and Lanning credit, they’ve not made this easy for him. 

  35. @wulfstone  Moments that break ‘years of character history’ can be fascinating if handled right.  And it’s a little unfair to say ‘they haven’t explained the thing that happened on the last page of the issue!’  They’ll get there.

  36. Woohoo some love for DnA. I been reading Guardians since Issue 1 and it is always a solid read. War of Kings and Nova have all been very good and this is coming from a comics reader who doesn’t enjoy the cosmic stuff.

  37. @daccampo

    Just started LoEG: Century.  Please tell me it’s better than Black Dossier.

  38. Really excited for this pick as I’ve been getting into the cosmic corner of the Marvel U over recent months.  I started by picking up Nova trades after the ifanboys started raving about it.  Trouble is I can’t read anything til the weekend……stupid British bank holiday shipping delays…….

  39. This book was great. I wonder how these two writers would do if they took on the more mainstream parts of the Marvel U. I suspect they’d be awesome, but at the same time, I don’t want them to leave. The cosmic books and Captain Britain and some other books on the fringe are just so good right now.

  40. @Ultimatehoratio. I think LoEG Century is closer to the so-so black dossier than the greatness of the first two arcs. Seriously did anyone else found the constant singing annoying? i’m sure it’s a play on a classic literary story (does anyone know which?) but i just didn’t get into it, it killed the pacing of the story.

     anyway, Life and Times of Saviour 28 is my POW, hands down, it continues to examine what a life time of violance will do to the delusional, child-like persona of a superhero. Fantastic, intelligent comics!

  41. @edward I’ve not read it yet but I believe it is based on Bertohld Brehct’s Three Penny opera. Which is based on the even older (well it would have to be wouldn’t it) Beggar’s opera.

  42. @horatio and edward – me, I found Century to be closer to the originals in the sense that it appears to me more of a direct sequel. We’re dealing with most of the same characters (or their children) years later, and the format is more of a straight sequential narrative. I wasn’t really bugged by the singing as a narrative device. After reading the entire issue, it was definitely the most immersive, complex comic of the week. I think it’s my PotW simply because there’s nothing else like it. Reading it is a real experience, not something you can just flip through and toss aside.

  43. Wikipedia would seem to confirm Pompster’s comment above. I didn’t know this, but it’s actually pretty cool. The use of Macheath and the mention of "Tiger" Brown comes from the opera, and there’s also a character named Jenny (who sings a song "Pirate Jenny"), which makes a helluva lotta sense if you’ve read the issue. Cleverly tied together.

  44. I think I’m going to wait to get War of Kings until it is in trade.  I love Nova and Guardians, but I think I’ll wait for this one.  Atomic Robo was my POtW.  League might have been, if it had come to my store. 

    @daccampo – After reading your thoughts, I’m definitely looking forward to finally reading it.

  45. @Daccampo: it’s actually the real quartermain, not his son, he’s de-aged some how in the black dossier

    @pompster: nice found

  46. @edward – yes, I’m aware (they also discuss it again in the prose section in the back). I was trying to avoid spoilers. 😉 The child I was referring to was Janni/Jenny.

  47. ah!

  48. Arrghh!!! Just been to my LCS there’s a delay on LOEG arriving in the UK. That’s it I’m going into hibernation to avoid spoilers. Tata

  49. Great choice. The addition of the GoG (and the lack of respect they get from the Shi’Ar) was great.

  50. Man, I love the Black Dossier. You guys are crazy.

  51. just in relation to the last LoEG book, what’s up with Alan Moore and rape scenes?

    Seriously, there’s attempted rape scenes in Watchmen and Mircleman, Hyde rapes Griffen in the second LoEG volume, in Century there’s a gang rape scene and one of the pirates rapes someone in this issue as well. i’m sure there are simliar scenes in his other books. what’s up with that?!

  52. For those of you not sold on the what Gladiator did. In WoK: Kingbreaker it is heavily imnplied that He has been in love with Lliandra for sometime now.

  53. That Gladiator bit was predictable even if all your knowledge of him is based on the early nineties X-Men cartoon.

    But as Ron said, very satisfying as well.

    As a faithful follower of Abnett and Lanning, this is my PotW as well. Good choice Ron.

  54. @edward – you pose an interesting question that almost demands its own thread. I saw someone else tweet about Alan Moore and rape scenes recently, as well.

    Part of me understands and thinks it is a bit of a recurring motif. Another part of me thinks that Moore simply doesn’t shy away from something that REALLY happens. Most of Moore’s works exist in a complicated, adult world — whether its Swamp Thing or MiracleMan or Watchmen. Rape is something that happens, something very real. In fact, the whole point of Watchmen was to put these fantasy characters into a "real world" setting — so that would include all kinds of real violence that we don’t discuss in polite conversation. 

    Moore does have works that do not include rape. Stuff like 1963 or Supreme or the ABC comics line (at least, all that I can recall). But those works occur in more innocent worlds and have different aims.

  55. I love the Guardians. The who joke is still funny. And I love the mob weapon.

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