Written by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Art by Paolo Pantalena & Harvey Tolibao
War of Kings: Ascension is an entertaining, yet flawed comic. Abnett and Lanning do an excellent job of filling us in on who these two characters are and try their best to make us care about them or their mission, but they never really reach their goal.
If I had to pick the biggest flaw of the issue, it is that I still don't have a clue what the miniseries is about, who or what the Fraternity of Raptors are (or if they actually exist), why they're in the Negative Zone or even why they bothered to tell this story, the latter of which is one of my bigger pet peeves. If a book can't even justify its own existence through the actions of the characters, either progressing an event or story or by giving new insight or growth to a character, I end up feeling disappointed with the purchase.
That said, this issue wasn't a complete waste either. Most of it was dedicated to bringing people up to speed on the recent Darkhawk miniseries, answering basic questions like who Darkhawk is and what's he doing with this new Talon character off in the Negative Zone. Of note was the "origin" of Talon, which amounted to showing a Skrull survivor of Black Bolt's attack from the Secret Invasion: War of Kings one-shot floating in space and coming across the blue Darkhawk gem that Talon has on his chest.
When not recounting who people were, the issue revolved around Talon "teaching" Darkhawk how to use his powers. This involved fighting back against Annihilus' remaining forces stationed in the Negative Zone, which brought the two to one of Annihilus' lieutenant's, Catastrophus, base of operations. It was shown that Catastrophus somehow had Annihilus' Cosmic Control Rod and Talon wanted Darkhawk to help him liberate it, which I assumed would be the core plot of this first issue or miniseries.
However, after entering Catastrophus' base, Talon quickly abandoned Darkhawk in an attempt to make him call on higher functions of his Darkhawk armour and further bond with it. After bonding with it, Darkhawk saw the truth from the suit's databases that the Fraternity of Raptors were actually the badguys, responsibe for kidnappings and murders throughout the ages, and Talon revealed his true colours by somehow banishing Darkhawk's mind from the armour, replacing it with someone called Razer.
What's interesting about this final reveal requires a little knowledge of Darkhawk, which we weren't given. Previously, it was revealed that his body physically swapped locations with the armour and he controlled it remotely from what I believe is the null space they reference here. It could be just that Darkhawk's mind has been shunted off into null space along with his human body and that this Razer persona actually existed there previously. Also, it looks like the Skrull that was inhabiting the Talon armour was more than likely taken over in much the same way as Darkhawk was when Razer replaced him here. The only question remaining at the end of the issue is if Razer and Talon will remain in control for the duration or if it'll end up being some form of cliched mental battle for control of the Darkhawk persona over the course of this mini.
Verdict - Check It. I wasn't blown away by it, but I'm willing to give Abnett and Lanning the benefit of the doubt here. Talon revealed as a bad guy was fairly predictable, but I'm curious enough about the Darkhawk / Razer dichotomy to stick with this miniseries.