War of the Realms: Week Nine

Originally, my thinking regarding these weekly War of the Realms updates was to focus in on the crossovers and tie-ins that were important to properly enjoying the overall event. I (almost) always enjoy a good Marvel summer shebang, but in recent years I’ve been frustrated with the confusing continuity of some of these mini-series. Despite reading — or trying to read — every comic remotely related to a given story, I invariably feel that I’ve missed something, resulting in an event experience that feels fragmented and unsatisfying. But given how invested I’ve been in Jason Aaron’s fantastic Thor saga, and how much I love his partnership with Russell Dauterman, I didn’t want to leave anything to chance. I was going to properly enjoy this g-d event, even if it meant buying and reading every one-shot (e.g., Strikeforce), amusing albeit tangential diversion (like Squirrel-Girl), or half-assed shitrag of a limited series (the gawdawful Journey into Mystery).

Hence the nine weeks of labeling all the comics with the WotR trade dress as either essential, recommended, or skippable.

On this particular off-week, however, despite two “essential” reads (see below), I feel like highlighting a book that is fairly inconsequential to the main storyline: Fantastic Four #10 by Dan Slott, Paco Medina, and Kevin Libranda. It’s a one-shot story detailing the early stage of the invasion when Malekith’s forces find their way to Yancy Street. And for those of you who haven’t been reading Slott’s recent FF series, Ben Grimm’s hood is the new operating base for Marvel’s first family.

If you have been reading the title, you know why we picked it as one of our favorites in Marvel’s recent “Fresh Start” initiative. And all of the things we love about it — the goofy science fantasy, the charming and endearing family dynamic, the brilliant supporting cast — are on display in this single issue. There’s an especially wonderful panel when Lunella Lafayette (Moon-Girl) meets Valeria Richards. They’re back to their own non-WotR storyline in the next issue, but I’m calling this book highly recommended not because you need to see why the giants wreak havoc on Yancy Street, but because you should probably be reading Fantastic Four anyway.

Now, on to the other tie-ins:

Can I advise skipping War of the Realms: Giant-Man #2 when I just gave the first issue a “recommended” tag two weeks ago? Probably not. That’d piss you off. But this book doesn’t elevate beyond its clever concept — a quartet of Marvel super-characters with the ability to giant-size themselves infiltrating the Frost Giants’ base in Florida to assassinate Ymir. The second issue is even more of a ramshackle affair, and I doubt a one of you will give a shit about Scott Lang or his cohorts by the end of this. But, okay… still sorta recommended because, well, there’s only one more issue after this and, I mean, we do want to see if they kill the primal Giant, yeah?

The obligatory anthology series for this event is only three issues long, and given how good the main feature is, Jason Aaron and Andrea Sorrentino’s “God Without Fear,” I really wish there were more of these. (Fucking Journey into Mystery has five issues?!?) The other two one-shot tales, one featuring Doctor Strange, and the other showcasing Wiccan & Hulking, are entertaining as well. The mettlesome Marvel marketers call this series a “must-read companion,” and I can’t help but agree. War of the Realms: War Scrolls #2 is an essential read.

If you started this trip because you were excited about the culmination of Aaron’s Asgardian opus, then you’re already reading this book. But let’s go ahead and earmark Thor #13 by Jason Aaron and Mike del Mundo as essential all the same. It’s a prequel tale, taking us back to a mission by Cul, the God of Fear, running some reconnaissance in Malekith’s home realm of Svartalheim, but it’s brilliant all the same. Aaron adds color to the cast of characters on both sides of this war, and the wizardry of del Mundo is always worth the price of admission.

May 22 | Weekly Buzz | June 5