Four issues into War of Kings and Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning have already given us one of the best event books we have had in a long time. War of Kings has been a perfect mix of action, drama, and politics without getting lost in one aspect of the story. And with the surprising ending in the last issue War of Kings #5 should be another great read.
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Artist: Paul Pelletier
Inker: Rick Magyar
Colorist: Wil Quintana
Story: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: The issue begins with Crystal narrating how the news of Lilandra’s death just reached the Inhumans and how she feels that Lilandra’s death is only going to lead to more deaths.
While Crystal is narrating we see Black Bolt playing with Lockjaw and the Inhumans discussing the recent events. Karnak and Gorgon try and make Black Bolt speak on what they should do next, but Medusa interrupts them by saying that Lilandra’s death is a pity. Karnak comments that Lilandra’s death is a turning point for this war as they were hoping that Lilandra would be able to end the war. Karnak says that now the only way to win the war is by using their Counter Plan.
Gorgon asks what the counter plan is. Medusa answers by saying it is the plan that her husband did not want to use but with recent events it is the only way to end the war. Gorgon says that he still does not know what the Counter Plan is. Attilan’s engines are powered up and Attilan launches into space.
The scene shifts to The Imperial Shi’ar Flagship Hammer II were we see Vulcan laughing at the news. He then asks everyone why he is the only one happy about the events. Admiral Ka’Ardum responds by saying that Lilandra’s death will trigger a Civil War within the Shi’ar with all of the Pro-Nermani Factions.
Vulcan asks Ka’Ardum what they should do. Ka’Ardum replies that they should look to make peace with the Inhumans and Kree to make sure their strength doesn’t dwindle anymore than it has. Vulcan, not liking Ka’Ardum’s answer, says he will execute Ka’Ardum shortly. Vulcan turns around and tells Talon that his Fraternity of Raptors is ruining Vulcan’s empire. Talon responds by saying that the Shi’ar Empire is not Vulcan’s. He says that all Vulcan is, is a custodian. Talon’s statement angers Vulcan. (BURN!!!)
Talon goes on to say that Vulcan has not proven worthy for Talon and the Fraternity of Raptors to follow. Vulcan tries to attack Talon for his misconduct but his attack is blocked by Talon. Talon then leaves.
Later, we see Admiral Ka’Ardum inform Vulcan that Attilan is heading towards Shi’ar space and that the Inhumans look to strike the Shi’ar personally. Vulcan tells Ka’Ardum that it is all the fault of the Imperial Guard for not finishing off Black Bolt (War of Kings #1). Vulcan than tells Ka’Ardum to follow him and he takes off to kill the Inhumans.
Back on Attilan, Ronan and Crystal throw Gorgon into the Imperial Room and ask Medusa what is going on with Lilandra’s death. Medusa and Maximus say that they are working on a contingency plan designed for the King.
Crystal asks Maximus what he built and he says it is called The Utterance of Destiny, T-Bomb for short, which is weaponized terrigen mist. Both Crystal and Ronan try to reason with Black Bolt and Medusa that this is not the right way to go about ending the war.
Medusa immediately lashes out that it is what they must do. Crystal and Ronan beg Black Bolt to stop this course of action. Medusa ends the conversation by telling them they are both naïve and that she speaks for Black Bolt.
The scene shifts to Chadilar, The Shi’ar Throneworld, were the Starjammers and an enraged Gladiator fight back the Shi’ar Guard and Death Commandos. Gladiator tries to kill Chancellor Araki but is attacked by Black Cloak. Both get into a huge brawl with Black Cloak gaining the upper hand. Before Black Cloak can finish Gladiator off, Black Cloak’s head explodes. Rachel, who caused Black Cloak’s head to explode, comes out of the smoke saying “He was the one…He murdered my family.”
Gladiator than rushes Chancellor Araki and kills him. After that the Starjammers are left in the middle of this battle with only the thought of what they should do with Lilandra now dead.
The scene shifts back to Attilan were everyone is waiting for Black Bolt’s decision. As they wait they hear a sound and Medusa says that Black Bolt has just made his decision. We then see that Black Bolt has decided to launch the T-Bomb.
Crystal cannot believe Black Bolt’s decision, but Medusa says that Black Bolt is leading them into their future of peace and equality. Maximus speaks up and says that it is shame that Black Bolt won’t be there to see it.
Medusa becomes enraged and attacks Maximus asking him what he means by that statement. Maximus responds by saying that the T-Bomb is powered by Black Bolt’s voice and in order for the T-Bomb to be used at full power Black Bolt must be at the controls.
Medusa tries to communicate with her husband; trying to tell him he does not have to sacrifice himself and that he can’t do this to her. Black Bolt just stands with in the T-Bomb looking at a picture of Medusa and their son Ahura while listening to her words. Black Bolt puts on his helmet to power the T-Bomb and tells Medusa goodbye.
The T-Bomb activates and is about to explode, but Vulcan flies in destroying most of the T-Bomb and entering the control room were Black Bolt is. Vulcan charges at Black Bolt. Vulcan yells “You. Let’s go.” End of issue.
The Good: War of Kings #5 was another great entry in DnA’s space epic. With War of Kings, DnA are showing that you do not need A-List heroes and villains to tell a great epic story. Characters like Black Bolt, Crystal, Ronan, Gladiator and the Starjammers have, at best, been B-List characters. But now with these characters’ involvement in War of Kings they have come closer to becoming A-List type characters. And it is a testament to the quality writing from DnA on this event that they have been able to do this with characters that have not gotten much attention within the Marvel Universe.
While Black Bolt and Vulcan are the stars of this event, DnA have done a great job letting other characters involved in this war get time to shine. DnA are able to do this by going from scene to scene in such a way that the characters in those scene feel like they are important parts to the story without having to have Black Bolt or Vulcan present.
Even though this issue centered on Black Bolt and Vulcan much more than previous issues, I can say that I was just as interested in what Gladiator would do after Lilandra’s death as to what Black Bolt and Vulcan would do to end the war. It is this interest in all of the characters involved in this big event that really makes this feel like an epic story and not just another typical “big event” book that Marvel and DC throw out every year.
Speaking of Gladiator, other than Crystal there is no other character that has benefited more from this event more than him. Gladiator has become much more interesting as this event has progressed. At the start of the series, Gladiator was the same stoic warrior loyal to the Emperor that we have seen before. Gladiator then slowly transformed into someone finally willing to speak up and do what he thought was right by siding with Lilandra.
It was awesome seeing how Gladiator reacted to Lilandra’s death as he just ripped the Shi’ar Guard apart. I have never seen Gladiator act with so much emotion as he did in this issue. And even though it was a short battle I loved Gladiator’s fight with Black Cloak. It was a brutal fight and I liked how it ended with Rachel finally getting her long awaited revenge.
I like that DnA decided to give Rachel some character development. While it was only a quick scene, it was more development that Rachel has gotten since “End of Greys.” It will be interesting to see where this development of Rachel and the Starjammers as a group go after War of Kings is over. These characters can either get their own book or return to one of the X-books.
Also, I enjoyed what DnA did with Crystal and Medusa’s characters in this issue. With how much character growth Crystal has gotten over these past few issues, it was only a matter of time before she and her sister got into a heated argument. Even though both Crystal and Medusa have been at odds throughout the series this was the first time were I felt that they would end up getting into a fight. It is hard to tell whose argument was correct as both Crystal and Medusa make solid arguments on what the Inhumans should do to end the war.
It was cool to see Ronan stepping up and having his new wife’s back on the matter concerning the T-bomb. DnA have done such a great job making me care more for the relationship between Ronan and Crystal than I actually thought I would. It is easy to follow each issue to see the evolution of the relationship between the two. The moment when Ronan and Crystal barged into the throne room felt like the moment were the two were officially a couple. It will be interesting to see if the power struggle between Black Bolt and Medusa versus Ronan and Crystal continues after the conclusion of War of Kings.
Maybe the most interesting aspect of this issue was Black Bolt and all of his facial reactions throughout the issue. Paul Pelletier did a great job with all of Black Bolt’s facial reactions to all of the arguing going on around him. It was clear that Black Bolt wanted to speak up at several points and it even looked like he wanted to shut his wife up a bit a couple times.
The scene where Black Bolt was going to sacrifice himself in order to end the war was a very emotional moment. Pelletier effively conveyed the sadness on Black Bolt’s face while he listened to Medusa desperately trying to tell him not to activate the bomb. It was yet another great scene in this series and DnA did a great job packing the scene with plenty of emotion especially with Black Bolt looking at the picture of his wife and son that he was leaving behind.
Now, just like a lot of fans, I really do not like Vulcan’s character. It has nothing to do with what DnA have been doing with the character, but the fact that Vulcan has been simply a one-dimensional character ever since his introduction. There really is not much that can be done about that fact, but because of that I really loved how Talon basically told Vulcan to man up and show why he should be able to call himself Emperor. Vulcan has not really done anything to prove that he is the Emperor since “The Rise and Fall of the Shi’ar Empire” and it was good to see Talon call him out on this fact.
Talon’s little speech to Vulcan provided a nice catalyst to the fight we all have been waiting to see since War of Kings was first announced: Black Bolt vs. Vulcan. Honestly, this has been the thing I have been looking forward to seeing the most and everything up to now has been set-up for this fight. I cannot remember the last time I looked forward to a fight more than Black Bolt vs. Vulcan. With all the build up this battle between the two rulers has had we should be in store for a great fight.
As I mentioned earlier, Pelletier did a great job showing a range of emotion from all of the characters in this issue. Pelletier’s art has been improving with each issue and he does a great job giving War of Kings an epic look. Pelletier packs a lot of energy in every panel and whether it is drawing action or talking head scenes they all look great.
The Bad: For the first time in this series I have found something wrong with War of Kings and that would be the need for the T-Bomb. While Maximus has created some great tech for the Inhumans and Kree to use throughout the event I don’t understand what the use of the T-Bomb is. Even though Maximus said it was a powerful bomb that would end the war it seemed as nothing more than a plot device to get Black Bolt and Vulcan to fight one on one. We didn’t even get to see what the T-Bomb could actually do before it was destroyed by Vulcan. Though I will say that this is not a bad thing since I look forward to the fight, but it is more that this was the first complaint, minor or otherwise, that I have had against DnA’s space epic.
Overall: Minor complaint aside, War of Kings #5 was an excellent read. It is such a treat to read an event where the creative team involved are not worried about telling the most complex story or the biggest slugfest ever. Instead, DnA are only looking to give us a quality read. DnA have put on a clinic with War of Kings. If you have not jumped on the Marvel cosmic bandwagon yet then I strongly recommend reading War of Kings when it comes out in trade format. You will not be disappointed. I cannot wait for the final installment of War of Kings next month.