War of the Realms: Week Eight

An impressive stack of books on the new releases rack with that War of the Realms trade dress: eight books in all for week eight of Marvel’s summer event. Thus far, Malekith’s epic invasion of Midgard, the last holdout against his ten-realm conquest, has been a fun and colorful culmination of Jason Aaron’s Thor opus. Some hits and misses this week. Let’s navigate.

The best of the lot is probably the latest in one of those strike team one-shots. War of the Realms Strikeforce: The Land of Giants #1 by Tom Taylor and Jorge Molina zeroes in on the between-the-panels action of the main series to follow Captain America’s squad as they infiltrate Jotunheim in an effort to “rescue” Thor. We’ve already seen the outcome, and the river of giant blood that led the team to their thunderous teammate, but an opportunity to see Molina flex his pencils for page after page of classic bombast and furious melee is not to be missed.

Cap has traded his shield for Jarnbjorn, Thor’s big ol’ axe; Power Man and Iron Fist prepare to bludgeon holes in frosty blue-skinned behemoths; and of course the gratuitous appearances of Wolverine and Spider-Man help sell more copies round out the team nicely. We also get an explanation as to why Spidey has been wearing that stupid helmet. I know, I know, Russell. Everyone’s a critic. (But it does look silly.)

Not essential to follow the story, but a highly recommended action-heavy entry into the over-arching event.

The other seven tie-ins and crossovers out this week:

Similar to the Strikeforce one-shots, Avengers #19 by Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness takes an expanded look at one of the story events from the main title. In this case, we delve deeper into Malekith’s army’s siege of Avengers Mountain, and what transpires behind the scenes to deal with the approaching horde. I’m going to go ahead and call this essential because, along with additional details surrounding some of the fun moments from last week’s War of the Realms #4, you also get a healthy dose of Agent Ken Hale, Gorilla-Man. And that’s never a bad thing.

As I mentioned a few weeks, ago, I’m a big fan of Marvel’s efforts to add diversity and international flavor to its stable of heroes. Yes, there’s something slightly off about integrating characters that were initially created for video games into the comic book universe, but… let’s be honest. Rom, Micronauts, Transformers..? At least this new model means the characters will stay under the Marvel umbrella (assuming we like them) and won’t get licensed off elsewhere or simply cease to exist. And so far, through War of Realms: New Agents of Atlas #2 by Pak and Lim, we seem to like them. They have their hands full currently with the Queen of Cinders laying claim to her Asian kingdom. But something tells me these heroes are going to be given every chance to stick around even after the dust settles on this event. Still recommended.

If you read last week’s issue of War of the Realms but somehow skipped Venom #13 (maybe on my recommendation) and were looking for more insight into Malekith’s new pet symbiote, this week’s Venom #14 by Bunn and Coello will leave you terribly disappointed. Disappointed and, assuming you have a lick of taste, sorely embarrassed that this collection of bizarro con sketches and Venom-y diarrhea can somehow be packaged and sold as a narrative comic book. Yeah, still super skippable.

Here’s another book I had been lukewarm on since its initial release, and despite the focus on my favorite Asgardian, the dearly departed Brunnhilde, Asgardians of The Galaxy #9 by Bunn & Villanelli falls short of expectations once again. This post-mortem issue attempts to save the other half of Valkyrie’s corporeal timeshare, Dr. Annabelle Riggs. If you weren’t already reading Asgardians, or were familiar with this character dynamic from Bunn’s Fearless Defenders, then this book is entirely skippable.

I’m a bit surprised at how much coverage Frank Castle has received in this event. From his featured team-up in the main book, to his focal presence on the Svartalheim strike team, to this mini-series, the Punisher is all over this goblin & troll slaughter. And maybe that’s just it. What better scenario to unleash gratuitous and ridiculous violence than in a fantasy-monster bloodbath? And in War of the Realms: Punisher #2, Duggan and Ferreira keep the dungeon crawl going as Frank attempts to complete the hospital evacuation through the Lincoln Tunnel, now utilizing a support squad of conscripted felons. It’s funny and bloody and Duggan-y. Recommended.

Nice try, McElroys. Tease me with Marvel’s Golden Age western heroes as your stupid-ass road trip winds up in a ghost town? I still can’t stand this book. War of Realms Journey Into Mystery #3, by the too-many-cooks broth of McElroy bros and André Lima Araújo, still suffers from eyerolls and forced gags. If you’ve gotten this far in the series and are intrigued by the little plot twist involving the immortal baby that the clown car has in tow, then fine. Keep reading. Otherwise, please skip.

Rosenberg may be off the X-books, but he’s not going out without more full-on tributes to some of the more underappreciated mutants in Marvel’s catalog. War of the Realms: Uncanny X-Men #2, featuring more sensational art by Pere Perez, shows the remaining X-Men holding down the stadium, so to speak, in NYC, to protect the unfortunate few who didn’t make it to Avengers Mountain during the mass teleportation exodus. It also stars a Sabretooth that is well and truly villainous again (like he’s supposed to be), working with Malekith’s forces as well as a wonderful slice of Rahne Sinclair that will make longtime New Mutants fans a little giddy. Very recommended.

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