Marvel follows up its most recent event, the impenetrable Secret Invasion (which at least had the advantage of being more lively than DC’s Final Crisis), with an event for its space heroes, War of Kings. I’m mainly buying it for the space heroes angle, since I enjoy both Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy, and WoK is written by the authors of those series, Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. That said, the set-up is amazingly convoluted and if you really want to know all the details, you can pick up the War of Kings Saga issue, which summarizes the whole thing.
Briefly, the Inhumans are a relatively obscure set of Marvel characters who millennia ago were substantially evolved by the alien Kree, who intended to use them as weapons. The Kree instead pulled out and the Inhumans have lived ever since in seclusion, first on Earth and then on the moon. Following some unpleasant confrontations with humanity in recent years, Black Bolt, the mute leader of the Inhumans, has decided that his race should claim their heritage as the rulers of the Kree. In this week’s Secret Invasion: War of Kings one-shot, they do exactly that, with Black Bolt seizing power from the incumbent Ronan the Accuser. Meanwhile, the Shi’ar empire has an usurper of its own, Vulcan, the mutant brother of the X-Men’s Cyclops, and he sees the Inhumans’ action as an interesting challenge to his own power, and presumably intended to provoke a war with them.
Got all that? It’s really even more complex than that – that’s the brief version.
At a glance this event looks like it’s going to suffer from a lack of sympathetic characters: Black Bolt has always been something of a nonentity, written as a stoic figure who acts through others, whole Vulcan is just an outright villain. But presumably Abnett and Lanning are going to show the war between the two through the eyes of people affected by it, such as Nova and the Guardians and anyone else who’s in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Of more concern is the sheer convoluted nature of the premise. Earlier cosmic events such as Annihilation and its sequel Annihilation Conquest had the advantage of having relatively simple premises, but pulling in these complex set-ups just makes this one very hard to get behind: Can’t we just have a good old space war without getting Vulcan and the Inhumans involved? It feels like a big overreach.
It’s also a disappointing to see the interesting ongoing storylines in Nova and Guardians disrupted again by yet another event. Can we call for a moratorium on this stuff and get back to some plain, simple storytelling?
I have a certain amount of faith in Abnett and Lanning to pull off stuff like this, but I think they’ve set themselves a big challenge here, and I’m not sure the payoff is likely to merit the risk.