Comic Book Review: Secret Invasion: War of Kings One Shot

The Revolution has been amped up and ready for War of Kings. This is the first Marvel big event that I have been excited about in a very long time. DnA have earned my trust and faith with all of their hard work that they have put into Marvel’s cosmic characters. Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy are both quality reads. I fully expect Secret Invasion: War of Kings One Shot to be an entertaining read. Let’s hit this review.

Creative Team

Writer: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Pencils: Paul Pelletier & Bong Dazo
Inks: Rick Magyar & Joe Pimentel

Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with the remnants of the Skrull armada fleeing into the outer dust clouds of the Arkano Nebula. Commander Jeeku knows that the humans will be pursuing the remains of the Skrull armada. However, in the clouds of the Arkano Nebula, the Skrulls can hide undetected by any scanning technologies. Here the Skrulls can regroup.

Suddenly, Commander Jeeku is informed of a rapidly approaching object. Commander Jeeku is informed that if the object is a vessel then it cannot be human since the humans are generations away from having such technology. Commander Jeeku asks how this object can be headed straight for the Skrull ships when they are supposed to be undetectable in the clouds of the Arkano Nebula.

The Skrull officer states that they now have visual of the object. We see massive white energy bolts appear and a vessel appears from the white light. Commander Jeeku asks “What is that noise?” The Skrull ships are then immediately disintegrated.

We flashback to sixteen hours earlier at Attilan on the moon. Crystal stares at Earth and thinks about how sad it is that the Inhumans cannot live on their home planet of Earth. That originally, the Inhumans were simple humans. Then the Kree manipulated with their genetics and breed them into living weapons. They became the Inhumans. And this made them feared and outcast by the rest of humanity.

Suddenly, Black Bolt, Medusa, Gorgon, Karnak, Triton and Maximus emerge from the throne room. Medusa states that Black Bolt has come to a decision. Medusa tells Crystal that Black Bolt has not told them of his decision, yet. Black Bolt stalks down the hallway and arrives outside the Chamber of Devices. This chamber houses all of the technology and weapons that Maximus designed in order to make the Inhumans strong.

Black Bolt unlocks the doors and enters the Chamber of Devices. Maximus states how Black Bolt would never let the Inhumans use these devices that Maximus created. Crystal asks Black Bolt if he intends for the Inhumans to cast off generations of reserved isolationism and adopt a preemptive stance.

Medusa retorts that the Inhumans have been passive for too long. That the Inhumans have let themselves become victims. Black Bolt arrives at a massive machine. Maximus is stunned that Black Bolt kept the machine. Maximus states that this machine scared Black Bolt despite the fact that the machine was designed to be used by Black Bolt. Maximus asks if Black Bolt intends to use it now. Maximus wonders what the Skrulls did to Black Bolt to warrant this type of response.

We then see the city of Attilan fold up into itself and transform itself into a giant city ship. Crystal thinks how the Inhumans have never had roots. And that even their own city was built to be impermanent. We see the city ship of Attilan blast off into space. Crystal thinks how Black Bolt intends to take the Inhumans out of the shadows. And that scares her.

We cut to the throne room where the royal family of the Inhumans is stationed. Crystal talks to Lockjaw about how they have spent more time outside of Attilan than any other Inhuman. Crystal says that she always dreamed of the day when the mistrust between the humans and the Inhumans would end. And that the Inhumans could share their planet with their kin. Crystal says that the Inhumans are now clenching their fists and turning their back on that destiny.

We then see Maximus placing the echopacitator on Black Bolt’s head. Maximus says that the time has come. That Black Bolt’s voice can shatter a mountain. Maximus tells Black Bolt to give the order. That this is the beginning. And in the beginning, there is always a word.

Black Bolt whispers the word “Now.” We then see the word “Now” echo and amplified by the echopacitator. The entire city ship lights up full of bright white energy. A massive bolt of white energy fires from the city ship’s engines as the city ship blasts off into hyperspace.

We cut to the Arkano Nebula in the present time and see a massive white energy bolt firing from the city ship of Attilan. The white energy bolt destroys all of the remaining Skrull ships. Crystal narrates how the Skrulls are shown no mercy. Crystal says that the Inhumans have become what everyone has feared. That the Inhumans have become what the Kree made them. Warriors. Weapons. That the famous stoic Inhuman reserve is gone. That they have been pushed too far.

We see Crystal looking at her daughter, Luna, and thinking how Luna should have been the start of a new genetic heritage. Crystal looks at Black Bolt’s son, Ahura, and thinks how he will now inherit a blood soaked crown. Crystal states that she will tell her children that this was the day that the Inhumans took control of their destiny. That this was the day the most deadly weapons in the galaxy were finally drawn.

Karnak states that the lone remaining Skrull ship is attempting to escape. Medusa orders that they pursue the final Skrull ship. Crystal snipes that they should just let the final ship go. Karnak states that the Skrull ship is now in Shi’ar space. Medusa orders for them to continue pursuing the Skrull ship.

Suddenly, three Shi’ar warships appear and order the Inhumans to cease their hostile activities in the Shi’ar Imperial space. Gorgon states that the Shi’ar ships have locked their guns onto the Inhumans’ city ship. The Shi’ar commander radios the Inhumans and tells them that this is their final notice and what is their response. Black Bolt then speaks into the echopacitator and destroys the Shi’ar vessels.

We shift to two hours later. Crystal asks Medusa if they are done. Medusa answers that they have only just begun. Crystal asks if Medusa is comfortable with the Inhumans being warriors. Medusa counters that this is how they were made. Crystal argues that they have always resisted this. Medusa says that they cannot just go home and forget what happened.

Crystal says that she understands that fact. Crystal says that murder is much like virginity and that once the act is done it is always done. Medusa tells Crystal to grow up. Medusa says that the Inhumans are done with being the Earth’s quant little freak children.

Medusa says that their course has been set for Kree Space. Crystal asks that now that the Inhumans have gotten revenge on the Skrulls if the Kree are going to be the next victims in the Inhumans’ quest for vengeance. Medusa responds that it is no less than the Kree deserve. (Crystal is pretty whiny and annoying. Medusa, on the other hand, is awesome.)

We slide over to Hala, the throne world of the Kree Empire. Ronan the Accuser is informed that the Inhumans have reached the border of the Kree Empire. The officer informs Ronan that it is in fact the entire Inhuman race that is approaching them. Ronan states that this day was inevitable. That a weapon always returns to damn its creator. The finer the weapon the greater the damnation.

Ronan orders the Great Shield to be raised. That it will protect Hala. That the Kree are still too weak from the Phalanx infection to fight. Ronan orders the officer to contact King Blastaar and remind Blastaar of his obligations to Ronan. The officer states that Blastaar has not responded to any official communiqués for almost a week. Ronan curses Blastaar and states that the Kree will have to fight alone.

We cut back to the Attilan throne room. Karnak states that he has examined the Kree’s Great Shield and has found a flaw in it. (Because that is what Karnak does.) Karnak says that the Great Shield has certain sub-harmonic weaknesses in its wavelength. That it can be manipulated by the Inhumans’ teleport cadre.

While the royal family of the Inhumans plans the attack on Hala, Crystal thinks that the one positive thing about this entire war is that her arranged marriage with Ronan is now null and void. Crystal considers volunteering for the assault force so that she can kill Ronan herself. Just to be sure. Crystal then thinks “This is not funny.”

We shift to Black Bolt giving the orders to the teleport cadre. The Inhuman assault team then teleports onto the shield satellite outside of Hala. The Inhumans then blast their way through the Kree forces. The Inhumans then destroy the Great Shield satellite relays. The Great Shield falls.

We see the Kree soldiers relaying the fact that the Great Shield has fallen. We see the city ship of Attilan blasting its way through the Kree ships. The soldiers relay to Ronan that the Inhumans’ ship is actually their entire city. We cut to Ronan getting the news and seeing video footage of the city ship of Attilan. Ronan is impressed and says “Oh gods. They’re magnificent.”

We see Hala crumble as the Inhumans destroy the Kree military. The Inhuman assault force members are wearing echo-skeleton armor that protects them from the Kree’s weapons. The Inhumans attack with echo-weapons. Both technologies derive their power from vibranium capacitors that store the whispers of Black Bolt. That these weapons were from Maximus’ Chambers of Devices.

The Inhumans make their way to the Throne Room where Ronan is standing. Ronan tells the Inhumans to go ahead and get it over with. That the Inhumans are going to destroy the ancient Kree and that it was always going to be this way.

Medusa states that the Kree created the Inhumans to be an elite military force that would allow the Kree to be the dominant species in the galaxy. Greater than the Shi’ar. And greater than the Skrulls.

Medusa says that this is a mutual destiny that the Kree have turned their backs on. The Inhumans have not. Medusa states that the Inhumans have come to accomplish that task. That the Inhumans have come to take the Kree to the next stage of its evolution. Whether it wants it or not. (Have I mentioned that I really love Medusa? This is my kind of woman.)

Medusa tells Ronan that two words is all it takes. Ronan asks if Medusa speaks for her King (Black Bolt). Medusa answers “Always.” Ronan states that he never sought to lead the Kree. That it was a burden he took because no one else would. Ronan says that he was just a caretaker keeping the gears oiled, waiting for the real King. Medusa repeats “Two words.”

Ronan bows before Black Bolt and says “My lord.”

We slide over to Chandilar, the capital world of the Shi’ar Imperium. We see Vulcan fighting a gladiator in a giant coliseum full of Shi’ar cheering for their Emperor. Vulcan kills the gladiator. The crowd goes wild.

Vulcan is then approached by Admiral Ka’ardum. The Admiral informs Vulcan that three Shi’ar warbirds were obliterated by the Inhumans along with the last remnants of the Skrulls. Vulcan states that the Kree and the Inhumans are now one.

Vulcan states that this territorial infringement cannot be overlooked. Vulcan says that this act by the Inhumans is an invitation. End of issue.

Comments

The Good: Secret Invasion: War of Kings One Shot was an excellent read. DnA deliver the blueprint on how to kick off a big event. Even though War of Kings technically focuses on Marvel’s cosmic character, do not confuse this story with an isolated event separated from the rest of the 616 universe. Instead, War of Kings uses several unrelated plotlines and integrates them into one story.

DnA take the left over plotline from Brubaker’s Uncanny X-Men dealing with Vulcan taking over the Shi’ar Empire and Havok, Polaris and Rachel staying behind to work with the Starjammers and combine it with the plotline spinning from Annihilation where the Kree were devastated and the plotline spinning from Secret Invasion concerning the Inhumans and Black Bolt being held captive by the Skrulls. This is a perfect example of how to lay a strong foundation for a big event that naturally evolves from several past storylines.

Secret Invasion: War of Kings One Shot also does an impressive job conveying the grand scope of this big event. DnA mange to give this story a truly epic feel. This is a classic war story. It is reminiscent of ancient Greece and Rome. This story is practically Shakespearian in terms of the high drama and intrigue that DnA are building with the complex relationships between the Inhumans, the Kree and the Shi’ar. And there is further drama and tension inside each camp and in particular within the royal family of the Inhumans.

In just one issue, DnA have managed to do what Secret Invasion failed to do. Even though Secret Invasion was supposed to be a full scale global invasion by an alien armada the reader never really got that impression. Instead, Secret Invasion felt rather small and muted. It seemed more like a little skirmish in New York City that was quickly wrapped up once the heroes figured out the Skrulls’ plan. There was little drama or intrigue. The story was rather flat and predictable.

On the other hand, DnA have already served notice to the reader that they can expect many surprises during War of Kings. We got several stunning twists already just in this prelude issue to War of Kings. DnA have set the stage for a grand tale that is rich in details complete with major plotlines and several sub-plotlines.

What was also so impressive about Secret Invasion: War of Kings One Shot was the incredible job that DnA do making sure that this big event is new reader friendly. Mass consumption is the key to making a big event both profitable and successful. DnA are working at a bit of a disadvantage compared to Bendis with Secret Invasion.

While Secret Invasion centered around high profile characters like the Avengers and the Fantastic Four, DnA are utilizing more unknown characters like the Inhumans and various other cosmic characters as the centerpieces of War of Kings. This means that DnA have the extra burden of educating new readers enough on the various characters so that the new readers will be able to properly enjoy War of Kings.

DnA do a fine job integrating the back-story on the Inhumans and the Kree without breaking the flow of the story or utilizing re-cap flashback scenes. DnA give all the necessary background information for new readers to not only understand what is going on but also to get interested in reading the upcoming War of Kings event. And DnA pulled this off in a fashion that never bores long-time readers.

Secret Invasion: War of Kings One Shot was a strongly plotted and paced issue. I like that DnA chose to begin this issue in media res. This technique enables the writer to immediately grab the reader’s attention with a dramatic yet mysterious opening scene that gets the reader excited to learn more about this incredible and mysterious object that obliterated the Skrulls.

DnA craft a story that moves along with a pleasant flow. This issue moves at a steady pace during the dramatic scenes before building to a more furious pace during the action scenes. This issue is focused as DnA proceed with a clear purpose in mind. This is a technically well structured issue that lays a proper foundation for what should be an exciting ride.

DnA manage to deliver an enjoyable blend of action and drama. The action scenes are nicely choreographed and give this issue plenty of energy. DnA show off how balanced they are in their writing skills as they also crank out some excellent dialogue and narration.

The character work was also well done. Each character had their own definable personality and a unique exterior voice. DnA were able to quickly give readers unfamiliar with these characters a good feed for the basic personalities of the major players in this story.

I liked the nice use of Crystal’s inner narration as the backbone to this story. This was an effective and unobtrusive method in order to give new readers back-ground information on the Inhumans in a seamless manner that never bored long time readers. Crystal’s inner narration also offered the reader an opposing view of the prevailing view of the Inhuman royal family’s decision to go to war.

By doing this DnA manage to get the reader thinking about both sides of this decision to go to war. And DnA allow the reader to arrive at their own conclusion concerning which one is right. Both Crystal and Medusa make valid points. Personally, Medusa’s position makes more sense and is more understandable to me. But, the fact remains that both sides are well presented and that is something that is not often done in modern comic books.

I love Medusa’s character. DnA write a great version of Medusa and have a good feel for her personality. The best part of Medusa’s character is that the reader never knows exactly how influenced Black Bolt is by his wife. There is no doubt that Medusa plays a large role in the decisions that Black Bolt makes. Black Bolt may be the head of the royal family but Medusa is clearly the neck that controls where the head looks.

I particularly enjoy how DnA write Ronan’s character. Ronan is a classic military character that you would see in a movie about ancient Rome or the British empire. Ronan’s sense of destiny and obligation were intriguing. Ronan’s view of the Inhumans and his calm upon hearing of the Inhumans’ pending attack was well done. Ronan explaining how weapons always turn on their creators shows how he views what a large role destiny plays in the universe.

I liked the moment when Ronan views the city ship of Attilan and comments how the Inhumans are magnificent. Ronan, like any military master, can appreciate the beauty in a deadly weapon. DnA write Ronan as a proud military man who has a keen understanding of history and life.

I loved how DnA were able to take the normally reserved and passive Inhumans and naturally and logically transform them into the weapons that they were designed to be. I like that Marvel is finally utilizing the full potential of the Inhumans. These are great Jack Kirby characters that have never lived up to their potential.

I liked seeing the Inhumans behaving like ultimate warriors. It was cool to see these long-time passive characters ruthlessly killing off the Skrulls, brazenly destroying the Shi’ar warships and then quickly toppling the Kree. These are clearly not your father’s Inhumans.

I liked DnA’s own additions to the Inhumans in this issue. The Chamber of Devices was very cool and very Kirby. I dig that DnA have created a place full of wondrous and incredible technology and weapons designed by Maximus that have long been deemed too dangerous to implement.

DnA get quite creative by utilizing Black Bolt’s powers to their fullest potential by having the Inhumans’ King serve as the power source for so many exotic weapons. The echo-weapons, echo-armor and the echopacitator that powers the city ship and its weapons were all exciting and imaginative creations by DnA.

I also loved the twist of having Attilan itself is able to transform into a giant ship. This fits in with the dominant theme of the Inhumans having no roots and no home. It also emphasizes the fact that the Inhumans were designed to be deadly and fantastic weapons.

And it was entertaining to see the Inhumans using these weapons during the battle scenes. And it was particularly enjoyable to see Black Bolt cutting loose. Normally, Black Bolt is so retrained with the use of his incredible powers. Not anymore. Black Bolt has always been arguably one of the most powerful characters in the 616 universe. And we are now seeing why.

The final scene on Hala was my favorite scene in this issue. Medusa’s narration was powerful and had great impact on the reader. I definitely did not see this coming at all. It was a brilliant move by DnA to take the Inhumans origins and play them out to their natural progression. I am completely intrigued by the direction of having the Inhumans finish the task that the Kree abandoned. That the Inhumans are here to take the Kree to the next stage of its evolution whether the Kree want it or not.

The stunning twist of Ronan bowing before Black Bolt and hailing Black Bolt as the king of the Kree Empire made my jaw drop. What an awesome swerve that I did not see coming at all. DnA made this a believable action by Ronan with the little speech that Ronan gives about never wanted to be leader and how Ronan was waiting for the king to come and take over. This is consistent with the type of person that Ronan has been presented in the past. And it certainly makes sense that Ronan would see this as the best chance for his beloved Kree to once again become the dominant empire in the galaxy.

DnA end Secret Invasion: War of Kings One Shot with a solid hook ending with Vulcan stating that the Inhumans’ attack was an “invitation” for the Shi’ar to engage the Kree in war. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is a how a war begins.

Paul Pelletier, Bong Dazo, Rick Magyar and Joe Pimentel combine to deliver some solid artwork. As far as artwork by committee goes, this was pretty good. The artists did a fine job evoking feelings of Jack Kirby without trying to simply reproducing Kirby’s style of art. It was fun seeing some Kirby-styled tech and of course the Kirby energy bubbles were a must.

The Bad: I have no complaints with this issue.

Overall: Secret Invasion: War of Kings One Shot was everything that I hoped for and more. DnA exceeded my already high expectations by kicking this big event off in style. A sound foundation has been laid for what should be an incredibly dramatic and riveting galactic war story. I would definitely recommend giving this title a try. War of Kings should definitely appeal to most science fiction fans.

4 Comments

  1. This was very well done. I love DnA. They’ve really gotten me interested in all the cosmic stuff in Marvelland- nova, guardians, etc….

  2. Great kick off to the series. I’m looking forward to the entire piece.

  3. Maybe it’s just me, but I think that Karnak the Shatterer has one of the coolest names and powers in comics.

  4. I thought that this was an excellent issue! I loved that fact that the Inhumans are now acutally becoming and embracing that fact that they are weapons.

    I don’t think that Crystal was whining though. We need to remember, as she stated to Lockjaw, that she has spent a lot of time with the Humans/ Mutants on Earth, so she had picked up some of their sensibilities along the way. She was a member of the Avengers and Fantastic Four, so her unwillingness to jump into War quickly made a lot of sense.

    I can’t wait for this event to unfold!

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