War of the Realms: Week Three

Be careful what you wish for, kid. After two somewhat unspectacular weeks of Marvel’s major 2019 event, week three of War of the Realms gives me everything I could have wanted from a universe-wide fiesta. But at such a cost. Oh my, what a cost… [One little spoiler ahead.]

Key among the WotR offerings this week is the second issue of the main title. Jason Aaron is forgiven for not knowing how to write Spider-Man (issue #1) because he reminds us how well he knows so many other key players in the Marvel U. The team-up between Logan and Frank Castle is one of the early highlights of this stage of Battleground Manhattan, and Doctor Strange’s Sanctum, along with his Aaron-assisted supporting cast, becomes a gateway to evacuating much of the populace to Avengers mountain (another wonderful Aaron brainchild).

But more than anything, the ever-reliable Marvel scribe and architect of everything Ten Realms-related knows his way around an event book. This second issue has all that glorious plan-staging and sub-team organizing that makes you anxious for Wednesday to roll around each week. In this era of binged television and massive all-at-once content dumps, it’s fun to be reminded of appointment viewing/reading. War of the Realms is the Game of Thrones of the comic book medium.

But, speaking of GoT, this issue really gets to me with its Barristan Selmy treatment of one of my new favorite B-list Marvel characters. Valkyrie — Brunnhilde the Valkyrie, to be specific — gets her little spotlight with Jane Foster right before she decides to make a charge at Malekith alone. No surprises how this turns out…

I know superheroes and supervillains die all the time. And they come back. No big deal. Brunnhilde, in fact, has been through this once already. But I’m also savvy enough with my capes n’ tights history to know that the B-listers hang around in the Dead Character Waiting Room a lot longer than the more popular folks. Especially if she’s been down this road before! Especially especially if the publisher already has plans to replace her!

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Somebody toss me a hammer. This shit just got personal.

If War of the Realms #2 was the only reason you were heading to your Local Comic Shop this week, I probably wouldn’t be making as big a deal. But in classic crossover fashion, we get three other tie-ins that flesh out the conflict. (And not a one of them is a lousy attempt at cheap laughs. Looking at you, Journey into Mystery.) We’ll label these as either essential for enjoying the overall event, recommended to add color and excitement, or dispensable for bearing similarities to that crappy McElroys book from last week.

Gerry Duggan and Marcelo Ferreira spotlight the One Man Army’s battle against the giants and dark elves that are wreaking havoc downtown in War of the Realms: The Punisher #1. It’s wonderful in its absurdity, revving up immediately when Frank buys a shit-ton of piano wire. The glorious tradition of Marvel marketing’s alliterative hyperbole really nailed it on the solicit for this book: “he’ll be damned to Hel if he’s going to let a bunch of Ten Realms tin-pot tyrants terrorize his town!” Recommended.

Jason Aaron himself and the incomparable Mike del Mundo give us Thor #12, a fantastic Loki tale that deals with the aftermath of Laufey gobbling up the God of Mischief (that’s an issue #1 spoiler — sorry, keep up). While being digested, Laufeyson has conversations with his past self (the badass Viking-era Loki from early in Aaron’s Thor opus) and his future/juvenile/alternate self (from Kieron Gillen’s equally memorable Journey into Mystery business). There’s also some heretofore undisclosed background on Malekith, the maniac at the center of the invading armies. Essential.

Finally, the return of the now obligatory event anthology book. War of the Realms: War Scrolls #1 has some gems, including part one of another Aaron story with art by Andrea Sorrentino. “The God Without Fear” features Daredevil kicking ass with Heimdall’s sword (more details to come, apparently, in WotR #3). There’s also a great little Howard the Duck tale by none other than Chip Zdarsky & Joe Quinones. Essential for the Daredevil story, and recommended for everything else.

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