War of the Realms part 1 covers the events of:
War of the Realms #1-2. Written by Jason Aaron. Art by Russel Dauterman.
Avengers #18-19. Written by Jason Aaron. Art by Ed McGuinness.
Thor (2018). Written by Jason Aaron. Art by Mike Del Mundo.
Okay, folks. It's time. Jason Aaron's whole legendary run has been building to this one, epic event. The biggest, most universe-shattering event in Marvel History. Since the one last year, or maybe the one the year before.
I wasn't really sure how I was going to make this work, but I think I've got it down. The War of the Realms was a massive event, whose events echoed out into almost every book that Marvel put out, during the Summer of 2019. And while many of them were solid reads, a lot of them were somewhat surplus to requirements. So, while I'd love to spend the next year or so giving my views on every issue of the event, I've decided to boil it down to the three most important runs.
Namely, the core book War of the Realms, and then Aaron's two other runs, Avengers and Thor. Then, because that came to 16 freakin' issues, I broke them down into three parts, which I'll be releasing over the next three weeks.
So, business nonsense out of the way, how about we start a war?
In War of the Realms #1 Malekith has taken over, or destroyed, 9 of the 10 realms. The only realm left that stands between him and total control of existence is Midgard. Thankfully, we have Earth's Mightiest Defenders, to protect us.
Not quite all of them, though. You see, Malekith has been planning this war for a very long time. He knows that if he is to succeed, there is one family that must be taken off the board. So, before his forces begin their assault, Malekith must remove the house of Odin.
The Battle of Manhattan begins!
Earth's forces fight the good fight, but between his armies of magical creatures, his War Witches, and technological assistance from that swine Dario Agger, things look grim for Midgard.
And while Loki gives his father something to really chew on, we're all left asking on very important question:
Where the Hel is Thor?
In Avengers #18, we're introduced to The Squadron Supreme of America. Who are in absolutely no way inspired by the Distinguished Competition. They are heroes in their own right.
Also, fun fact, they're all kinda tools.
I mean that in multiple ways. They're not very nice people, for a start.
But they're also being used, by Special Agent Phil Coulson, who is doing weird science stuff to them, without them realising. Of course the question becomes; Coulson is giving the Squadron their orders, but with S.H.I.E.L.D. shut down, who is in charge of Coulson?
But that's a problem for another day. Right now, they're the only thing standing between Washington and a frosty bad time. So, for now, I guess we can cheer them on.
Nope, can't do it. They suck SO BAD.
With D.C. safe, we return to Manhattan for War of the Realms #2, where things aren't quiet so secure. With the aid of Doctor Strange, Jane Foster is getting as many people as she can out of the city, but something is messing with magic, and even Doctor Strange's prodigious skills are proving insufficient.
But if we've learned one thing, from all these many events, it's that when things like darkest, unexpected reinforcements can be expected.
But even they may not be enough. Malekith's armies are vast and his magic is powerful. Even the combined forces of The Avengers, the Sorcerer Supreme, and the remaining armies of Asgard may not be enough to stop this brutal assault...
So, naturally, now would be a good time to take a break from all of that, and have a nice flashback story about Loki.
Thor #12 is a flashback type issue, with just a hint of A Christmas Carol. As Loki has a heart to heart with a few of the interesting and varied forms he's taken, over the past years.
Along the way we learn a little more about everyone's favourite liar. we visit a few important parts of his past, and one VERY important moment in his future, but more on that soon.
Then, in the last issue for the week, we spend some time with the Avengers Support Staff, in Avengers #19. This issue follows Gorilla-man, as he cable swings around, talking to giant bears, fighting elves and generally making sure that everything is running smoothly behind the scenes, to make sure that Avenger's Mountain stays safe and secure. But our hairy friend isn't quite what he seems, and his dark secret could doom us all...
Why this book is so good:
Whew, that was quite a start, wasn't it? After half a decade of build up, War of the Realms exploded into the public consciousness, and it pulled no punches. I know some people who hadn't been following the arc from its beginning were a little confused and/or disappointed, for those of us who had been in since day one, this was EPIC.
The core War of the Realms books themselves showed how brutal Malekith was, and took great pains to show us that no one was safe. Many of Marvel's big events claim to change the face of Marvel forever, but often fail to deliver. War of the Realms showed from its very first issue that Aaron was NOT messing around.
The way Aaron ties together all these seemingly scattered threads just shows why I consider him to be the greatest long-form storyteller currently working in comics. Even issues like Thor #12 and Avengers #19, which seem unrelated at first glance, will bring together story elements from years back, or lay the groundwork for huge events yet to come. Perfection.
My only real complaint about this arc isn't technically a complaint... but I'll share it anyway. As someone who considers Phil Coulson my second favourite character in the MCU, I really don't like the direction that Aaron is taking him, in his comics. I know he's got something planned, and a case could be made that this isn't even really Coulson. But I don't care. Coulson is the man, and I don't like seeing him acting like such a colossal ass-hat.
The art was excellent, too. Dauterman's work on The Mighty Thor was incredibly strong, and his style fits perfectly for this event. The character designs, and the use of colour and light work as a perfect balance to the horror and gore that we see, in some of the harsher panels of the book. A tough act to balance.
But trust me, friends, this story is only just getting started. There is more loss, heartbreak, triumph and redemption to come!
So join me next week, when the War reaches its peak. In War of the Realms: Part 2. Because I can't think of a better title.
If you want to read along with me, you can find every issue of Aaron's Thor Saga on Comixology, Amazon, or better yet, at your local comic store!