Comic Book Review: War of Kings #3

The Revolution has been enjoying War of Kings. DnA have delivered two solid reads with the first two installments of this big event. I suspect that DnA will crank up the intensity with War of Kings #3. This is sure to be one exciting read. Let’s go ahead and hit this review.

Creative Team
Writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Pencils: Paul Pelletier
Inks: Rick Magyar

Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with Gladiator presenting the captured Lilandra to Vulcan. Vulcan rants and raves and goes to kill Lilandra. Admiral Ka’ardum restrains Vulcan from killing Lilandra. Vulcan threatens to kill Admiral Ka’ardum from getting in his way of killing Lilandra.

Admiral Ka’ardum explains that if Vulcan kills Lilandra then she will become a martyr and serve as an inspirational rallying point for Lilandra’s supporters. Also, that if Lilandra is killed, then the rebels will go seek a new person to support to overthrow Vulcan.

On the other hand, by keeping Lilandra alive, Vulcan prevents the rebels from picking someone else to depose Vulcan since Lilandra is the only other person with a legitimate claim to the throne. Also, with her alive she does not serve as martyr to inspire Vulcan’s enemies.

Vulcan calms down and asks Gladiator if he agrees with Admiral Ka’ardum. Gladiator says that he does agree with the Admiral. Vulcan then agrees to let Lilandra live.

Vulcan says that Lilandra will stand trial for treason. That the public trial will turn the tide of opinion against Lilandra and that the people will no longer love her. Then she will be sentenced to death for treason and when she is killed she will have already been disgraced and denounced so that she will not be a martyr.

Gladiator narrates how Vulcan is heavy handed and his aggressive and direct approach in the war scored the Shi’ar early victories in the first two days, but now the Shi’ar have over extended themselves. The Inhumans have proved to be deadly warriors and the Shi’ar have begun to sustain losses. That the Kree are fighting with a tenacity that has not been seen in a long time. That the Inhumans are incredibly inspiring leaders and very focused.

We cut to Crystal by Ronan’s hospital bed. Crystal gives him the latest news on the war. Ronan asks Crystal if their marriage was completed prior to the attack. Crystal answers that the priests considered the marriage legal and so does she. Ronan compliments Crystal for her excellent work with the Kree people and for inspiring them. Ronan then asks if the Uplift Program has stalled due to the war efforts. Crystal answers that she does not know.

Crystal leaves the hospital and flies back to Attilan. Crystal thinks about how Ronan understood that the Inhumans were the Kree’s best chance of survival. That is why Ronan knelt before Black Bolt. The Uplift Program was the Inhumans’ way to accelerate the Kree out of generations of evolutionary stagnation.

We flashback to when the Inhuman Royal Family explained to Ronan the Uplift Program. The idea was to expose the Kree to the Terrigen Mists. Roman embraced the program. Ronan stated that the Inhumans were giving the Kree a new lease on life.

We cut to the present with Crystal meeting with Karnak, Medusa and Maximus in the Chamber of Devices. Maximus complains that the war effort has diverted all of his attention from working on the Uplift Program. Evidently, all the demands for new weapons and ships for the war are monopolizing all of Maximus’ time. Maximus stalks off to do more work.

Crystal asks Karnak to be honest with her about the Uplift Program. Karnak states that the problem is greater than Maximus not having the time to devote to the program. Evidently, the Uplift Program has failed in all of the test runs. That the Kree are immune to the Terrigen Mists. Crystal asks what will become of the Kree.

Medusa walks in and says that they will care for the Kree. Crystal retorts if the Kree are just going to end up being treated like second class citizens. Like a slave-caste like the alpha-primitives who toiled in the Inhumans’ catacombs. Crystal says that the Kree are expecting much from the Inhumans and that the Kree are proud people.

Medusa says that the Inhumans are proud people as well. That what is good for the Inhumans will, by extension, be for the Kree. Crystal asks how taking the Kree to war with the greatest power in the universe is considered a good thing. Crystal says that there will always be someone there to oppose the Inhumans. To fight the Inhumans.

Medusa replies that they will beat them all. Maximus chirps that if they cannot beat the enemy then they will join them or change them. Medusa snaps for Maximus to be silent. Medusa tells Crystal to ignore Maximus’ nonsensical ramblings. Medusa tells Crystal that the Black Bolt is ready for her report.

We slide to Crystal meeting with the Black Bolt. Crystal says that she is concerned for the welfare of the Kree. That the Inhumans have used the Kree without concern for the welfare of the Kree. Crystal says the Inhumans have gone too far. Black Bolt just stares at Crystal with a hard look on his face. Crystal is saddened and says that Black Bolt’s silence speaks volumes.

We shift to the Shi’ar warship where Lilandra is being held in a cell and transported to a prison. Gladiator checks on Lilandra. Gladiator then walks away from the cell and joins the rest of the Imperial Guard. The new Smasher thanks Gladiator for the opportunity to serve on the Imperial Guard. The new Smasher says that he serves at the pleasure of Emperor Vulcan.

Suddenly, the Imperial Guard’s warship is attacked. We see the Starjammers boarding the Imperial Guard’s ship. Havok, Polaris and Korvus attack the Shi’ar troops on the ship. Gladiator arrives on the scene. Havok blasts Gladiator. Gladiator gets up and says that the Starjammers’ effort is futile against the Imperial Guard. Havok agrees and says that this time they brought some muscle in the form of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Gladiator responds “The… who?”

We then see Groot, Major Victory, Drax the Destroyer and Rocket Raccoon enter the battle. Rocket Raccoon is packing a large gun and says “Say hello to my little friend.” Rocket explains that his gun is a Xarthian Quantum Cannon that is specifically designed to take down a Strontium like Gladiator. Gladiator says that Rocket is lying. Rocket says “Never doubt a raccoon.” Rocket then blasts Gladiator and Gladiator convulses in pain.

The Guardians of the Galaxy then brawl with the rest of the Imperial Guard. Groot takes out Electron. Major Victory takes out the intangible member of the Imperial Guard. Smasher presses a button on his suit and says “Accessing hyper-strength. Upload from my exospecs.” Drax punches Smasher in the face and says “Accessing fist.” Drax then continues the beat the hell out of Smasher.

Polaris then rips open the door to Lilandra’s cell. Havok tells Lilandra to come with them. We cut back to Rocket Raccoon still blasting Gladiator. Gladiator is still in pain. Gladiator thinks to himself how Xarth has no tradition of quantum weapons. Gladiator then reasons that this is a telepathic assault causing him to question his psionic-fueled powers.

Gladiator yells “Get out of my mind!” The illusion fades and we see that it was Rachel Grey who was tricking Gladiator into thinking Rocket’s gun was hurting him. We see that Rocket’s “gun” is really just a mop. Rocket tells Gladiator “Now let’s not do anything hasty, okay? I mean, you wouldn’t hurt a cute little mammal with fur this soft, would you? Rocket takes off his glove and says “Feel.”

Gladiator then blasts off at super speed and flies around and takes out all the members of the Starjammers and the Guardians of the Galaxy. Gladiator then stands in front of Lilandra. The Imperial Guardsmen and Shi’ar soldiers then take control of the situation.

Gladiator stands in front of Lilandra and is about to place her back into her cell.  Lilandra states how Gladiator is the most loyal and devoted man she has ever known. Lilandra wants to know who Gladiator is loyal to. That if it is Vulcan then the Shi’ar is surely doomed.

Smasher yells for Gladiator to follow Vulcan’s orders and seize the traitor. Gladiator turns around and uses his heat vision to blast Smasher’s head off. Lilandra is stunned. The Shi’ar soldiers are stunned. Gladiator then growls “I serve at the pleasure of Empress Lilandra.” End of issue.

The Good: War of Kings #3 was a fantastic read. This was the strongest issue so far in this big event. DnA have hit their stride with this issue as they captivate the reader’s attention from start to finish. War of Kings #3 was a well paced issue. DNA nicely massage the story as they smoothly shift between dialogue heavy dramatic scenes and intense fight scenes.

What was particularly enjoyable was how balanced of a read War of Kings #3 is. DnA have been able to give the story enough depth and tension with well crafted dramatic scenes that lend to the grand feel of this big event. However, DnA never make the reader go too long without getting some action which is also a critical ingredient in any successful big event.

And to be sure, War of Kings #3 delivers plenty of kick-ass action. The final brawl scene was just fantastic. It was nice to see the Guardians of the Galaxy getting a chance to flex their muscles and kick some Imperial Guard butt. Hopefully, by starring in a big event like War of Kings, The Guardians of the Galaxy might get more credibility and respect within the Marvel Universe and possibly gain some new readers.

War of Kings #3 was another strongly plotted issue. DnA continue to keep several interesting plotlines brewing at all times. The reader gets the clear sense that DnA have a clear point and purpose with the various plotlines. Unlike some big event, the reader never gets the impression that the writer is simply killing time or has become lost as to what they are trying to achieve with the big event.

DnA are putting on a plotting clinic with War of Kings that other writers would be wise to use as a blueprint on how they should properly deliver a big event story. After having to suffer through the directionless, shallow and dull Secret Invasion and the obtuse and disjointed Final Crisis, War of Kings has been a real breath of fresh air.

I dig the concept of the Uplift Program. It makes sense that the Inhumans would attempt to boost the Kree’s evolution by employing the Terrigen Mists on the Kree. The twist that the Terrigen Mist has no effect on the Kree creates an interesting plot wrinkle as to how the ruling Inhuman class deals with them. DnA continue to flash strong research skills as they make a nice old school reference to the alpha-primitives when talking about the Kree. It certainly seems that Medusa views the evolutionary dead-end Kree as new versions of the alpha-primitives.

DnA toss another little wrinkle into the Uplift Program plotline by having Maximus mention that in any future conflicts with enemies of the Inhumans, that the Inhumans would either “change” their enemies or join their enemies. Medusa quickly dismisses Maximus’ statement as his usual ramblings of a madman, but there is clearly something more to that statement than Medusa is willing to admit.

This plotline has depth and legs as it influences characters like Medusa, Black Bolt and Crystal. It is becoming increasing obvious that Black Bolt and Medusa are exhibiting a much more hostile attitude than ever. Medusa in particular is much more imperialistic than ever. We see that Medusa is ready to defeat any and all enemies of the Inhumans. Even though the Inhumans are the “good guys” in this story, we can see how they are slowly becoming more like the “bad guys” in the Shi’ar.

DnA also do a nice job getting the reader to wonder if the neck is controlling the head in this story. Black Bolt is the King, but Medusa undoubtedly wields an incredible amount of power and influence. And the increasingly war-like attitude of the Inhumans may be more of a reflection of Medusa’s wishes and beliefs than those of the silent King.

DnA continue to do a fine job with Crystal’s character. Crystal began this story as being opposed to taking over the Kree and getting actively involved in any wars. Now that the Inhumans are the ruling class of the Kree, only Crystal has developed a truly caring concern for the Kree people that they rule. I like that Crystal has softened her heart toward Ronan and is beginning to see his strong sense of honor and integrity. The Kree need a champion and Crystal is shaping up as a fine choice to serve as the People’s Champion.

With the failure of the Uplift Program, DnA are setting in course another layer of conflict with this story. There is the Shi’ar versus Inhuman/Kree conflict. And now we are seeing an Inhuman versus slave class Kree conflict and possibly an eventual civil war within the Inhuman royal family as Crystal sides with Ronan against Black Bolt and Medusa.

The possibilities are endless and DnA should be commended for creating a story with such depth where the plotlines grow organically and inevitably lead to more interesting and compelling questions.

The character work in general is top notch in War of Kings #3. All of the characters are well fleshed out and have their own unique personalities. The dialogue is excellent and has a pleasant and natural flow. DnA generate plenty of quality chemistry between the various characters no matter the scene or situation.

What is also enjoyable is that despite the overall serious and dramatic nature of War of Kings, that DnA are still able to inject their great sense of humor into the story. And the humor is well timed and placed and never threatens to de-rail the story or pull the reader out of the story. The best were all of the hilarious one-lines in the final fight scene. They had me chuckling throughout the entire scene.

Of course, the star of War of Kings #3 is a furry little raccoon with a gun. Rocket Raccoon completely stole the show in this issue. DnA give Rocket all of the good lines. Rocket’s banter had me laughing throughout the final scene. The absolute best is when Rocket takes off his glove and tells Gladiator to feel his nice soft fur. I always liked Rocket Raccoon, but War of Kings #3 officially made Rocket one of my all-time favorite characters.

DnA ended War of Kings #3 with a fantastic hook ending. It was absolutely stunning. This was as good an ending as I have read in quite a while. The shocking ending hammers the reader like a punch to the neck. And what was so impressive was the amount of time that DnA have spent over the past two issues installing the set-up for this ending. Over the past two issues, DnA have dedicated plenty of time into examining Gladiator’s character and the turmoil within him over his duties to the Emperor.

DnA have shown the reader that Gladiator has a strong sense of honor and loyalty. That Gladiator is extremely loyal to the office of the Emperor no matter what his opinion of the person who is the Emperor may be. That Gladiator’s sense of honor, loyalty and love for the Shi’ar Empire commands him to follow even an evil Emperor like Vulcan.

I was getting a bit annoyed over the course of the last two issues with the continual use of the line “I serve at the pleasure of the Emperor.” However, with this ending, I completely understand why DnA used that line so much. By ingraining that line in the reader, it made this stunning ending that much more powerful. I really appreciate such long range vision and attention to detail.

The Bad: I have no complaints with this issue.

Overall: War of Kings #3 was an excellent issue. DnA have this big event firing on all cylinders at the moment. I am having more fun with this big event than I have had with any big event for several years. DnA deliver an issue that offers the reader drama, action, adventure and humor all wrapped up in a delightfully plotted story that has plenty of depth. I would certainly recommend going out and purchasing War of Kings #3. This is a well crafted big event that should appeal to a broad cross-section of readers. This title is definitely worth the cover price.


  1. Oh my God, they killed Smasher! YOU BASTARDs.

  2. Oh smasher, your death has become somewhat of a running joke. Killed by Vulcan in ‘Rise and Fall’, killed by karnak in WOK #1 now killed by Gladiator. I want to see smasher die at least twice more before this war is over.

  3. Another great review. “War of Kings” has exceeded all expectations. Rocket Raccoon had great lines, but Drax’s “Accessing fist” was awesome.

    It’s been hinted at in the past that Gladiator has romantic feelings for Lilandra. I wonder if this will play out as the series continues.

  4. TheRealSmasher May 11, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    I enjoyed as well, but come on- Gladiator’s turnabout was so obviously coming. It was a bit too scripted that he always serves the emperor. Too many times.

    And then, he doesnt seem to have an a-ha moment- he just turns. Even the look on his face when Lilandra appeals to him calling him Kallark, didn’t seem to show any kind of reversal.

    All in all, awesome series, just like Nova is awesome. But for Gladiator, i think we needed less “oh Im so loyal to the job” up front, and then a moment of doubt before he switches.

    Plus, now we know that Gladiator will fight Vulcan and lose, b/c really, is there any other set up for the finale of this than Black Bolt v Vulcan? Unless Gladiator’s change is held until said battle and he comes in to fight with BB.

  5. Wait… Wasn’t there a female Strontian serving Vulcan? Kallark’s cousin or something? Maybe DnA will have Gladiator fight her! That still leaves Vulcan to Black Bolt.

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