Written by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Art by Paul Pelletier
War is upon the Kree as Vulcan's sneak attack from last issue continues here as Abnett and Lanning, with the help of Pelletier's beautiful pencils, show us the devastating aftermath of the use of a nega-bomb on one of the outlying Kree worlds. It's a great opening that sets the tone for the rest of the issue.
However, despite this effective form of recap, there's actually very little else from the Vulcan camp this time around. Instead, we are treated to the fallout of the attack on Hala, see how the Kree people react to the carnage and, finally, how the Inhumans deal with the fallout.
To be honest, I was fully expecting Abnett and Lanning to move directly to the counterattack by the Inhumans and ignore the devestation caused by the Shi'ar attacks. To say I was pleased with how they followed up the action packed first issue would be an understatement. It's rare that we get to see a realistic (or as realistic as super hero comics get) take on this declaration of war by the Shi'ar and the reactions of the people devastated by it.
For example, the Kree homeworld of Hala was shown to be in a state of civil unrest due to the unprovoked attack, which resulted in the deaths of billions of people. They blame the Inhumans for bringing this war to their already battered and beaten people, who were nearly wiped out by Ultron and the Phalanx in Annihilation: Conquest, and they would be correct in that assumption, as Vulcan is retaliating for the destruction of his warbirds by the Inhumans from the Secret Invasion: War of Kings special.
However, the point of this example is that it's a relatively small thing that Abnett and Lanning perfectly showcased in the span of a few panels and followed up on in the political dialogue between the Inhuman Royal Council, who are used to absolute obediance and faith in their patriarch, Black Bolt.
Another great part of this issue was, surprisingly, the Inhuman Crystal. Her concern for new husband, Ronan, while not blind love, is believable and her actions and inner monologue throughout this issue made me care more about her character than I ever have and her ascension to 'people's princess' status after her actions were cleverly broadcast out to the public was another well crafted scene that never felt forced or contrived.
The final part of this issue followed up on the Inhuman's retaliation plans. The Inhuman's are a powerful race of extremely gifted - both intellectually and physically - people. However, they are typically shown as impotent and unable to act or save themselves without Black Bolt's intervention. It was great seeing these surgical strike squads of Inhumans in action (with some help from the Starjammers, of course) and it was one of the few times I've actually believed in the Inhuman's supposed genetic superiority and evolution.
Finally, I wanted to mention Gladiator, of the Shi'ar Imperial Guard. Poor, poor Gladiator. He received a brief monologue at the start of the issue about the use of the nega-bomb and his reluctance to deliver Lilandra to his Emperor, Vulcan and the issue ends with him being forced to hold her as Vulcan prepares to kill her in a fit of rage over the decimation of one of his fleets by the Inhuman counterattack. Abnett & Lanning have done a decent job building up Gladiator and his loyalty to the throne and the throne only, regardless of how good or evil the ruler is, and while it's hard to agree with his viewpoint, it's also easy to see why he does what he does. However, I'm not sure what Gladiator is going to end up doing here and regardless of whether he helps save or kill Lilandra, I think we're all still going to hate him as a character.
Verdict - Must Read. I will concede that this issue has a slower, more methodical pace than the previous, but I think the step back taken for the big picture view of how the war affected people helped the event more than any amount of mindless action could have. Great effort from all those involved.