In Review: The War of the Realms #1

This is modern Marvel Comics at their finest. Highest possible recommendation.

The covers: A massive thirty covers on this opening issue, so hold on to something as all are reviewed! The Regular cover by Arthur Adams and Matthew Wilson is anything but regular. This is a wraparound illustration of every hero and every villain battling one another at the same time. The details are insane and the colors are outrageous. This is the cover to beat for the year, in my opinion. This is print, poster, and wraparound tee shirt worthy. You’ve got to check this out. The first Variant cover is by J. Scott Campbell & Sabine Rich. This has Hela with a hand on her hip, laughing at something unseen. She’s vivid in greens and blacks as she stands atop a copy of Thor #251 which is now in grays and whites. Very cool. The Connecting Realm Variant by Giuseppe Camuncoli & Elia Bonetti features She-Hulk, the Minotaur, and a character I don’t recognize holding a glowing club, running across a map of the Realms. Nice idea, but this collection of characters isn’t thrilling me. Captain Marvel and Sif are in some major trouble on the Variant cover by Frank Cho & Sabine Rich. The pair of heroes turn to see all the dead warriors bearing weapons, while behind them Hela sits on her throne surrounded by other dead creatures. Great cover with the colors exceptionally strong in the cold environment, with the protagonists really popping! John Tyler Christopher’s Variant is a funny, sick, cool, twisted frontpiece. Captain Marvel and Iron Man are carrying elves that are aflame and are using their bodies to batter a frost giant. Cap is in the foreground and she’s breaking skin and burning flesh on the monstrosity. Really cool. The most incredible looking Sif graces the Olivier Coipel & Wilson Variant. The character is holding a massive sword down as she looks to her right for the next foe. She looks amazing and the colors are spectacular. This is a MUST-BUY for Asgardian fans. And WOW! Get a load of the killer Variant from Amanda Conner & Paul Mounts. This features several of the characters of this series at a party, complete with drinks and games. There’s so much going on! I love Loki, Odin, Captain Marvel, She-Hulk, and Luke Cage on this. I hope Conner continues to do covers for this series. The Russell Dauterman & Matthew Wilson Wraparound Gatefold Young Guns Color Variant cover requires the reader to tilt the cover horizontally. This is an exciting cover of all the heroes racing forward to battle unseen villains. Thor is in the center wielding two hammers. A virtual Who’s Who of the Marvel Universe, I love all the characters, though Doctor Strange, Daredevil, Captain Marvel, and Iron Fist keep catching my eye for being so awesome. There’s also a Black and White Variant cover featuring the same illustration, but with no colors. Neat, but I like it better colored. Gabrielle Dell’otto has a fierce Thor on her Variant. Against a black background, the God of Thunder roars as he turns to the reader to unleash the energy sparking from his hammer. The silver armor on the hero stands out and the crimson cape pops against the black. Adi Granov’s Variant cover features the Hulk, Spider-Gwen, and Angela. I like the way the ladies look, while the green goliath looks odd. The “Van Art” Variant by Greg Horn is simply spectacular. This is the side of a van featuring Thor and Malekith reenacting the creation of Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam, with Thor as God and the elf as Adam. Funny, cool, and just all out awesome. I hope there are more of these Variants in Marvel Comics’ future. The Variant by Victor Hugo is a spectacular image of Thor with him wielding a hammer cocked in his right hand, making his way to the upper right. His eyes have gone as white as the lightning bolt that’s arcing around him. Love the energy on this. Rom Lim & Israel Silva have Mangog battling Captain America, Black Panther, and Hawkeye. Unconscious in the foreground is Beta Ray Bill. I’m a huge fan of Lim’s work and any new work by him is a marvelous day. I love the bright color by Silva, which increase my happiness of this cover. Nexon creates the Battle Lines Variant cover. This has Thor in some heavy duty white armor I’ve not seen before striking his hammer onto the ground creating an explosion of lighting. An okay image, but hard to find a focus beyond the character’s face. Ryan Ottley & Nathan Fairbarin’s Variant is attack of the Spiders: Spider-Man, Spider Gwen, and Miles Morales are swinging at a flying villain. Cool, but the lack of a background lessens the acrobatics of the heroes. My heart soared when I saw the Variant by George Perez & Jason Keith. Thor gives a yell as he raises Mjolnir above his head. This looks great on a white background with a cloud of blue behind him to highlight the bolts of lightning spouting from the hammer. I love Perez and I love this. Pyeong Jun Park’s Variant has the Winter Solider emptying his pistols into Kurse while the Black Widow avoids the villain by leaping upside over him. WOW! This is a cover that contains some smooth action. I’d love to see more by Park. The reader looks down upon Thor who is turning his head to the left to stare back on a nice bust shot of Thor from Joe Quesada, Kevin Nowlan & Richard Isanove on this Variant. Nothing spectacular. The International Connecting Variant is by Humberto Ramos & Edgar Delgado with Mike Hawthorne. Kamala Khan, Spider-Man, and Logan are at the Statue of Liberty battling Dark Elves. The point of view is crazy cool and the the vertigo created is really awesome! There are two covers by Walter Simonson. The Colored Variant version includes the immeasurable talents of Laura Martin. This is a horizontal cover that features Thor sparking lightning and sending it forward into a giant. Below him are several Asgardians using the weapons of Midgard, such as a bazooka and a machine gun. Looking at new Thor art by Simonson is a gift from the gods, and having Martin coloring it is a bonus. There’s a Black and White Variant that features the same artwork, though without Martin’s contributions. I love this just as much. The Sana Takeda Variant has Thor causing chaos with his hammer. He’s got his right hand out to ward of enemies, while in his raised left is Mjolnir. Lightning is exploding from the weapon as he stands in an outdoor structure composed of columns. Love the energy on this and the colors are fantastic. There’s an Adams and Wilson Premium Variant cover that’s the same as the Regular cover, just the cover goes black and white as the reader’s eyes move to the bottom right. Nice, but I like it fully colored. There’s also a Blank Sketch Variant. This features the title at the top with the barcode, publisher, and number on the back left. This is the cover I picked up so that one day I can have an artist create an original illustration on it. Plus, underneath this is the Regular cover by Adams and Wilson. It’s like getting two-for-one. The Mike McKone Variant cover for The Comic Mint is a great take on the original Secret Wars #1 cover. All the characters are striking the similar poses that they had on that Mike Zeck classic image. Very cool. Frankie’s Comics Clayton Crain Trade Dress cover features something unusual: Venom swinging Mjolir at several giants coming at him. Nice, but this is a really dark cover and it’s hard to make out the imagery. There’s also a Clayton Crain Virgin Variant that features the same colored imagery sans text. Again, nice, but still can’t see everything clearly. The Midtown Comics Skan Variant is from a really weird, yet interesting, point of view. Thor is holding powered up Mjolnir to his face, hiding all below his nose. Within the weapon are the reflected images of Doctor Strange, Captain Marvel, Spider-Man, and the Black Panther. It’s different at least. The Fan Expo Dallas Variant features artwork from J. Scott Campbell. Captain Marvel stands before Thor. Both their arms are outstretched with her fists glowing purple and his emitting lightning. Nice, though Thor seems like a last minute addition. Overall grades: Regular A+, Campbell Variant A-, Connecting Realm Variant C-, Cho Variant A, Christopher Variant A, Coipel Variant A+, Conner Variant A+, Wraparound Gatefold Young Guns Color Variant A, Wraparound Gatefold Young Guns Black and White Variant A-, Dell’otto Variant B+, Granov Variant C+, “Van Art” Variant A+, Hugo Variant A, Lim Variant A+, Battle Lines Variant B+, Ottley Variant B-, Perez Variant A, Park’s Variant A, Quesada Variant B, International Connecting Variant A+, Simonson Colored Variant A+, Simonson Black and White Variant A+, Takeda Variant A, Premium Variant B-, Blank Sketch Variant B, The Comic Mint Variant A, Frankie’s Comics Trade Dress C, Frankie’s Comics Virgin Variant C, Midtown Comics C-, and Fan Expo Dallas Variant B-

The story: The book opens with Odin sitting in the ruins of Asgard, assaulted by Dark Elves. What they do to the All-father is shocking. Jason Aaron next has his tale go to Newark Harbor where Thor’s contemplation of his situation is broken by Loki falling to the Earth. “It’s too late, brother. The War of the Realms can’t be stopped,” he mutters. “The King of the Dark Elves. Malekith the Accursed. He’s coming, brother. And he’s bringing aaaaall his many monsters with him. No. I take it back…They’re already here.” Their arrival heralds the war reaching Earth. Let the chaos in New York begin! Dark Elves attack, but they are only the forerunners to greater threats: Frost Giants, trolls, War Angels, Sindr’s flaming flying minions, with Kurse, Ulik, the Queen of Heven, the Enchantress, and Dario Agger appearing as well. A major character seemingly dies! Every walking Avenger joins the fight on several fronts. This is only the opening issue and I’m trying to figure out how Aaron can top the epic scale of this installment. Incredible. Overall grade: A+

The art: Russell Dauterman is amazing. Every page, every panel of this book is lavish with detail. Dauterman perfectly renders all the magic and horror of the Norse myths and the strength and emotion of those of Midgard. The attack on Odin is like watching a classic play commence. Thor and Loki’s journey is pure mythology brought to life, with their encountering a classic foe frightful. I love the layout of Pages 12 and 13 with pointed panels holding so much tension while directing the reader’s attention to the tiny characters. I dig the psychedelic moment on 14 and the panels falling out of alignment on 17, showing how the arrival of the creatures is tearing apart the norms of the comic book. 18 and 19 is a double-paged splash with the upper right and lower left corners in white, increasing the unease that’s visible in the artwork. I’m not a huge Punisher fan, but what he does in the first two panels on 20 is making me one. The entrances on 24 are awesome. All that’s missing is the music. Page 29 features a close-up of an iconic character that is beautiful. This image is a fantastic precursor to the action on 30 that will shock every Marvel fan. The final page is a full-paged splash showing a character about to deliver some punishment. Seriously, you could spend hours looking at the glorious work Dauterman has created. Overall grade: A+

The colors: My heart goes out to Matthew Wilson for what he’s done. His colors are as exceptional as the art. The book opens with beautiful oranges and then moves to the colorless remains of Asgard. The attack upon Odin explodes in powerful golds. The green sound that ushers in Loki’s entrance is terrific. The blues and reds that welcome Thor and Loki at a new location are wonderful. The colors in the second panel on 14 are radical. I love the intense orange-reds in the second panel on Page 15. The oranges on 18 and 19 are apocalyptic. The greens on 26 and 27 are mesmerizing. The combination of blues, yellows, and oranges on 30 are horrifying. Certain characters’ dialogue and dialogue balloons get unique coloring to differentiate them from others and they look great. Wow is all I can say. Overall grade: A+ 

The letters: VC’s Joe Sabino is responsible for the book’s text which contains Asgardian speech, scene settings, dialogue, yells, and sounds. I’ve only returned to Marvel’s superhero books in the last few years and the Asgardian speech font has finally grown on me; I like how it separates them from others and how it allows me to quickly identify who’s is speaking. The scene settings are odd looking, with ultra slim and plain letters. They’re disappointing, but they do stand out when they appear. The dialogue is easy to read and the yells come in several different varieties. It looks as though Dauterman may have created some of this book’s sounds, but I can’t be sure. What I’m seeing I like. Overall grade: A 

The final line: You’ve got to buy this book. This is modern Marvel Comics at their finest. Every hero gets a great scene and the villains are glorious. Even if you haven’t read a Marvel Comic in years, you can jump in and be instantly immersed in this tale. The visuals are staggeringly epic, be they the inhabitants of the realms or the familiar faces on Earth. This is why comic books continue to thrive and inspire. This War is for everyone. Get a copy while you can. Highest possible recommendation. Overall grade: A+

To order a digital copy go to

To see the covers visit my Instagram account: patrickhayesscifipulse

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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