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Tuesday Q&A: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning

The cosmic writing duo takes a look at the new shape of Marvel's outer reaches with the Realm of Kings

By Kevin Mahadeo

As the sounds of war slowly subside, the space-based characters of the Marvel Universe find themselves in a whole new realm-a Realm of Kings.

"Realm of Kings, in a general sense, is a big cosmic entity that covers a lot of ground, or space," says writer Dan Abnett. "It's about the Marvel cosmos in the wake of the War of Kings, and it's about the destiny of the Kree Empire and the Shi'Ar Imperium, and many other galactic cultures. It's also about the Fault, the huge rip in space and time caused by the war."

Abnett and writing partner Andy Lanning rule over the Realm of Kings event as the architects behind last week's launch of the REALM OF KINGS: IMPERIAL GUARD limited series, the NOVA and GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY ongoing series, plus the REALM OF KINGS one-shot and five-issue REALM OF KINGS: INHUMANS limited series, both beginning November 18.

In the midst of planning interstellar politics, Abnett and Lanning took some time to talk about what the Realm of Kings means for the state of the Marvel Universe.


REALM OF KINGS #1 cover by Clint Langley
Marvel.com: What can you say about the current state of Marvel space politically with the apparent death of both Black Bolt and Vulcan?

Andy Lanning: Shaken. The war was pretty massive and the destruction epic, but the power vacuums have been filled very successfully. Medusa has taken the throne after her husband's death. Like all Inhuman aristocracy, she was trained to rule from birth. Kallark, the Imperial Guard praetor Gladiator, has taken over the throne of the Shi'Ar. After a bumpy start, he has everything to prove and must walk a fine line between ruling the conquered Shi'Ar as the Kree's appointed leader and being their puppet, just a figurehead. These are tense times of reconstruction and healing, and early days for both administrations.

Marvel.com: Beyond politics, interstellar space finds itself threatened by the Fault, which is a tear in the space-time continuum. What else can you say about the nature of the Fault?

Dan Abnett: The Fault is a place where almost anything, literally, can show up because it's a great big rip torn through realities. It's a mystery, and a potential threat to galactic security, and everybody from space 'cops' like Nova, heroes like the Guardians [of the Galaxy] and cultures like the Kree and the Shi'Ar are keen to find out more about it. Lots of things-lots of adventures-will happen because of the Fault: characters popping through, situations developing. But then there's the big 'meta' story of the Fault, the key 'what's the real big deal' story, and that's what this [REALM OF KINGS] one-shot starts rolling on. We follow one character, Quasar, in a quest to learn the Fault's secrets and end up getting a glimpse of the biggest, maybe the darkest secret of all.

Marvel.com: What does the existence of the Fault mean in terms of the affect it will have on the entire universe?

Andy Lanning: Oh come on. It's us. [Laughter] Things are likely to get a little bumpy.

REALM OF KINGS: INHUMANS #1 cover by Stjepan Sejic
Marvel.com: You guys have said that REALM OF KINGS: INHUMANS is the "intrigue book" and features a lot of courtly espionage. Can you talk a little about that and what that means for the tone of the series?

Dan Abnett: Actually, it's action-packed from cover-to-cover. INHUMANS is the courtly intrigue book because IMPERIAL GUARD is the hardedge combat book. It's more about the politics and interplay of a noble family, like the Borgias. [Laughs] Or maybe one of the Cate Blanchett "Elizabeth" movies with super powers. But as the intrigue plays out, there is a serious amount of heavy-duty kick-ass action.

Marvel.com: Medusa must be in a rather fragile state after the death of her husband. How will readers be seeing this reflected in INHUMANS?

Andy Lanning: She is hard and ruthless, and damaged by Black Bolt's death, but still very commanding and dedicated. She has able support from Crystal, Karnak and the rest. She may have a certain detached quality and a determination to make quick, good decisions that may come across as being callous and unfeeling.

Marvel.com: What about the rest of the royal family? What can you say about where each of them are mentally and emotionally?

Dan Abnett: Karnak-wise and level-is Medusa's primary advisor, but Maximus, who is very stable at the moment, is another key thinker at her side. Gorgon is head of the armed forces and the new Inhuman Elite. Crystal, with Ronan, is concerning herself very much with civilian welfare, and Triton is spearheading exploration, especially the Fault.

REALM OF KINGS: INHUMANS #4 cover by Stjepan Sejic
Marvel.com: Despite War of Kings being over, it seems a War of Queens erupts between Crystal and Medusa. What brings these sisters into conflict with one another?

Andy Lanning: Partly due to her ties of genuine and growing affection for Ronan, partly through her own compassion, Crystal has more time for the situation of the Kree people than Medusa does. Medusa's focus is very much on securing the Empire in the post-war phase and shutting down any threat before it can develop. The 'humanitarian,' if you like, is going to come head to head with the 'protector.'

Marvel.com: Although War of Kings featured many characters, the story mostly unfolded through the eyes of Gladiator and Crystal. Will INHUMANS follow the same format with the bulk of the story told through Crystal's eyes?

Dan Abnett: Crystal is our anchor still. She seems to work especially well that way as a character. But we will follow storylines with all the others.

Marvel.com: Finally, you guys have previously mentioned that Realm of Kings is about exploration and a new world filled with new possibilities. Without giving too much away, can you give a few teasers for fans about some of the things coming their way as Realm of Kings continues?

Andy Lanning: We're going to reveal the mysteries of the Fault, and some of those are going to shake the ground. We aim to discover things that will rattle the cosmic parts of the Marvel Universe and may well be felt on Earth, too. We're going to find out who's really dead and who isn't after War of Kings. We're going to inject some proper cosmic horror to the Marvel cosmos, and we're going to bring back not one but four major

REALM OF KINGS: IMPERIAL GUARD #2 cover by Brian Haberlin
Marvel cosmic bad guys. If you've become a fan of the Marvel cosmic books, then hold on to your space helmet, this is where things hit warpspeed. If you've heard about the good stuff going on up in the stars, Realm of Kings is a great place to jump aboard and join in. No previous experience needed. We'll tell you everything you need to know as we go along. As long as you can handle a blaster and keep your head down when ordered, you'll be fine.

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      I can't wait to snag these up! I am reeealy intrigued by those "evil avengers" that were teased a while back, and how they come into play.


      If this I was a betting man, I'd be thinking this ere Fault thingie is liable to be a good way of getting Marvel Man into the Marvel Universe, given that the Fault will be 'ripping through realities' and the like.In any case, my interest is pipped - I'm rather behind on all things Cosmic in Marvel but from what I hear it's one area which has been consistantly good due to decent writers, so I think I'm gonna try and give things a twirl.