By Kevin Mahadeo
As the War of Kings event comes to a close, a new era begins for the denizens of the Marvel cosmos: a Realm of Kings filled with new adventures, new dangers and tons of new Marvel space-based stories rocketed straight to readers by the writing team of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning.
"It's less an event and more a state of mind," explains Lanning. "War of Kings was this giant, galaxy-shaking event that [change] things in huge ways; Realm of Kings is the dramatic new world the cosmos finds itself in. The books we're writing, including the ongoing GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY and NOVA titles, will tie into this and explore it. Realm of Kings is about new threats, new challenges, new political landscapes, new allies, new enemies and it's about exploring strange, new worlds. Realm of Kings is bringing you bold new surprises, strange old friends, and a few dark gems from the past. If War of Kings was about courage and tragedy, then Realm is about wonder and adventure."
It all begins with the WAR OF KINGS: WHO WILL RULE? one-shot this September, which follows up on the tragic ending to WAR OF KINGS that saw the death of both Black Bolt and Vulcan and explores the political power struggle left behind in the wake of stellar war. Then in November, get ready to really explore the new Realm of Kings with the REALM OF KINGS one-shot with art by Leonardo Manco, which sets the landscape and tone for the event, two five-issue limited series with REALM OF KINGS: INHUMANS and REALM OF KINGS: IMPERIAL GUARD, as well as tie-in arcs in both GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY and NOVA.
"This is the intrigue book, where things are as sly and underhanded and treacherous as the dealings of an Elizabethan court," explains Abnett. "The Inhumans are divided. The Kree are unhappy. Medusa and Crystal are in opposition. Medusa is almost destroyed by the loss of her husband, while Crystal fights fiercely for what's right and proper, and that includes the welfare of the Kree. As [that] relationship decays, what of the apparently mismatched relationship between Crystal and her 'arranged' husband Ronan? Layered onto this, there's lashing of action with Gorgon, Karnak and Triton as threat after threat come to try their luck against the young, vulnerable empire."
The IMPERIAL GUARD series, with art provided by Kev Walker, tries to put together the shambles of the Shi'Ar Empire left behind following the demise of Lilandra and Vulcan. Although WAR OF KINGS #6 saw former Imperial Guardsman Gladiator holding the Imperial Scepter, as Abnett put it, "no one ever became majestor or majestrix without someone else crying foul or trying to claim the throne themselves-or killing people." As the title suggests, the book focuses on the Imperial Guard, specifically a select team as they head out on a dangerous mission.
"We're also going to play up that feeling from War of Kings that [the Imperial Guard] aren't super heroes," says Lanning. "They're individually meta-powered warriors from an elite military unit."
"Apart from them yelling 'We told you so!' the Guardians will be working every hour of the day and night to get this rip in space and time sealed again," says Lanning. "But things are going to be tough: the outcome of the War of Kings for the Guardians is especially shocking, and leads directly, and unexpectedly, into their biggest story yet, and a clash with one of the most powerful bad guys in the Marvel Universe-ever!"
Overall, both Abnett and Lanning admit to adoring the cosmic part of the Marvel Universe. Fans since childhood, the duo revel in being able to play with these characters from the Marvel toy box, but find it difficult to choose even one or two favorites.
"The Inhumans are universally great," crows Abnett. "We both love Karnak and Gorgon, but writing Crystal made us get very involved with her as a character, and writing Maximus is just huge fun. Plus Medusa, of course, her majesty. So we'll say Lockjaw. Hussar is a bit of a favorite amongst the Imperial Guard, and Mentor is good value for money, but we both have a very soft spot for poor Smasher, or should we say, the Smashers, plural? Just how many versions of him are we going to be able to kill, we
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