Written by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Art by Paul Pelletier
If you've been under a rock for the past few years, both Marvel's and DC's cosmic universes have quickly become the best facets of both companies, delivering such hits as Annihilation and the Sinestro Corps War, respectively.
War of Kings follows in this tradition of cosmic goodness and is a comic that simply does not compromise. It takes the dial and cranks it up to eleven from the get go and never lets you catch your breathe as all out war breaks out between the Inhuman lead Kree and Vulcan lead Shi'ar Empire.
If you missed the Secret Invasion: War of Kings prelude issue to this event, it set the stage for this war by having the Inhumans, lead by their king, Black Bolt, hunt down the remaining Skrull armada for the kidnapping and replacement of Black Bolt prior to Secret Invasion. After killing every last one of them, the Inhumans moved onto the battered Kree homeworld, still recovering from the Phalanx occupation in Annihilation: Conquest, and promptly declared themselves the new rulers of the Kree.
Meanwhile, Vulcan was busy establishing himself as the leader of the Shi'ar Empire over in the X-Men's Rise & Fall of the Shi'ar Empire storyline, which was later followed up by the X-Men: Kingbreaker miniseries.
War of Kings kicks off just as these two super powers become aware of each other and Vulcan, mad with power and seeking to conquer the Kree and everyone else in his path, initiates an all out assault on the Kree Empire. The attack was designed to take place on the day of Ronan and the Inhuman Crystal's wedding day.
While the Shi'ar's Imperial Guard focused their attack on the Kree homeworld, Halla, the rest of the Shi'ar fleet is busy bombarding outer rim planets with nega-bombs, destructive and devastating weapons of mass destruction.
Paul Pelletier's artwork delivers in spades and is absolutely gorgeous throughout this issue, most noteably with the fight scenes on Halla between the Shi'ar Imperial Guard and Inhuman Elite Guard. The battle is brutal and fierce and both sides suffers casualties before the Imperial Guard withdraws with their prize - Lilandra, who had been seeking refugee from Vulcan with the Inhumans.
There were only two things I could complain about this issue. One was it ended and I'm going to have to wait 30 days for more of this storyline. The other is that Black Bolt was taken out of the fight and downplayed through a rather cheap plot device in the form of a character with noise dampening sonics.
While they didn't actually hurt Black Bolt, they were used to stun him momentarily while Gladiator took him to task as the rest of the battle raged on. The end of the issue showed that Black Bolt was relatively unharmed (looked fine other than a torn costume), but it was still disappointing to see him kept on the sidelines in this manner. Thankfully, there are several more issues left to see him cut loose and I'm sure there's a rematch planned between he and Gladiator.
Verdict - Must Read. Action, drama and the promise of more cosmic goodness from this event int he future - what more could you ask for?