REVIEW: War of the Realms #1

WAR OF THE REALMS #1 / Writer: Jason Aaron / Artist:  Russell Dauterman / Colorist: Matthew Wilson / Letterer : VC’s Joe Sabino / Publisher: Marvel Comics / April 3rd, 2019

Several Years in the Making

Six years—more or less—of build up have led to this. That’s a lot of expectations to place on an event, but I think it’s justified. Aaron’s been planning on doing this since he first started writing Thor and… it’s finally here.

Between this and Avengers: Endgame, I’m going to need a week off to recover. A lot of things are ending this year now that I think about it…. Jason Aaron’s presence has been in the background of Thor for quite a long time now. For my money, the comic industry will remember him as one of Thor’s best writers for many reasons, regardless of how this event turns out.

Grounded Fantasy

This issue is probably not the best place to judge the overall story, obviously. However, given how it kicked off, we’re in for a fun ride! Marvel, overall, leans into the epic fantasy side of Thor’s cast of characters, but with Aaron, keenly contrasts the high fantasy with a more grounded earth setting.

In God-Butcher, the start of his run, that connection wasn’t fully there, but we got to see Thor trying to reconnect with it after he faces his worst fears manifesting in a creature who hated gods for a very good reason.

In Jane’s run, it’s because Jane is not only human, she’s desperately ill. We see hospitals and waiting rooms and cancer treatment centres alongside epic battles between fantasy races and literal gods. In the most recent part of the run—with Thor basically trying to come back from being benched for a long time—the gods live as refugees on earth.

Having this human aspect to the more high concept stuff really helped me connect to run over all. It helped drive home the over all theme of the run- how the gods are just human. They’ve never felt more human than at this point. And now… they’re vulnerable to attack.

Calling All Heroes

Of course, the best part of a final act—a whole cast of characters get to team up and face a big bad. That’s why we’re all freaking out about Endgame. This story, a part of our lives for the better part of a decade, has been brought low. The major players are in need of a comeback, and it might cost them. Hell, this issue already has two casualties! There’s angels in the sky and dark elves, fire giants and frost giants on the ground.

I mean, I’ve heard worse excuses to have She-Hulk punching trolls in the middle of New York.

So far, with the first issue, I think we’re good to go! Overall, it’s a solid, fun kick off. What flaws there are feel a little nit-picky to even bring up—but I found Spider-Man desperately annoying. Again, personal thing, and he’s known to be more snappy and witty when he’s really nervous. Can’t say I blame him.

What struck me, ironically given how much I’ve just gone on about the long build up, is how it seems to come in a rush—almost like an eclipse. One minute, the days is relatively normal—we’re aware an eclipse is happening at some point, can’t remember when—then boom everything goes dark and we’re left scrambling for a good moment. There’s a rush of heroes to meet Malaketh’s army as they enter the Realm—with one major exception. It’s probably not a spoiler if you’ve read ahead to the synopsis of future issues in either Thor #12 or the next two issues of War of the Realms, but I’ll leave it for you to discover. It provides one of the best splash pages in the whole thing.

Art and Color

Speaking of the art—Russell Dauterman is killing it. Having him back, with Matt Wilson’s colours, is like putting your glasses back on after having lost them for a good few hours. Everything is back in focus. everything makes sense again. If Aaron’s going to be remembered as one of Thor’s best writers, then Dauterman deserves equal plaudits for his art being so damned iconic. That flowing, living quality to his work is perfect for the fights, the character moments, the contrasting landscapes. And Wilson’s colors—vibrant or dark, as necessary—draw you into that world. He’s been just as important to this journey as Aaron and Dauterman. Speaking of Matt Wilson, I’ve already seen a preview page for the next issue featured in a cool video featuring him. I’m psyched, to say the least; you’ll see why.

It all looks as epic as all hell. Can. Not. Wait.

The dream team is back baby!

Final note—the Director’s Cut extras include a TON of variants, the same pages but textless and in black and white, along with he script for the whole issue. It might not be worthwhile if you haven’t been obsessively following this run for ages, but I got a kick out of nonetheless.

Verdict: 4.5/5

I’m a thirty something British nerd-mum and wannabe author, fueled by tea, poor decision making and a need to be distracted. Cursed to watch favourite characters die and ships sink. Send help.

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