In Review: The War of the Realms #2

The is epic, with heroes and villains clashing, while civilians run for shelter.

The covers: Six covers to snag on this saga of Norse villains gone wild. The Regular cover is by Arthur Adams and Matthew Wilson and it’s spectacular. Standing on the bodies of slain foes, Wolverine is in the foreground with his claws out. Behind him is the Punisher holding two machine guns. The Valkyrie on her winged mount is behind the pair, her horse on its back legs with her holding her sword high. In the far back is Doctor Strange using his abilities to open a portal that a bezillion people are entering to safely exit war torn New York. The art is stunning and the colors awesome, with a special shout out to the magical greens that mark the portal. The first Variant is by Victor Hugo and has the Valkyrie holding her sword and racing to the left. There’s a snarl on her face and sparks flying by her. I love that her sword is before the book’s title; it’s always cool when artists do this. That said, her face is really cartoony and that I do not like. Julian Totino Tedesco’s Variant features Black Panther, Thor, Captain America, and Spider-Man on a rocky outcropping. Behind them is a monstrous version of Malekith holding an equally large sized sword composed of light violet energy. This foe is surrounded by character battling. It looks okay, but the characters are too loosely rendered — only Malekith looks good. The Connecting Realm Variant cover by Giuseppe Camuncoli & Elia Bonetti has Angela fighting an angel. It’s fine, but these variants don’t do much for me. The characters are okay, but the map is very simple. Even combined with other covers of this set, the map is just too plain. Javier Garrón & David Curiel have created the Young Guns Variant cover. This features Valkyrie standing atop a troll she’s just killed. Behind her are eight other of her fighting sisters. I like the look of this and the colors are gorgeous. David Lopez & Edgar Delgado with Mike Hawthorne do the International Variant. This looks down upon the Eiffel Tower during the day as Iron Man fires his repulsors straight up at an unseen foe. Behind him are the Falcon and the Invisible Woman battling angels. I am so thankful that this is a bright cover. I love the point of view. Overall grades: Regular A+, Hugo Variant C+, Tedesco Variant B-, Connecting Realm Variant C-, Young Guns Variant A+, and International Variant A-

The story: The people of New York City are making a beeline for Doctor Strange’s house as he’s created a portal to evacuate them. Helping at the door is Jane Foster, who feels a desire to help battle the creatures taking the city. Elsewhere, the Punisher is mowing down elves because his bullets contain iron. One of the creatures sneaks up behind him with a knife and that’s when three familiar blades with a SNIKT sprout from its chest. Wolverine is there to help. Captain America is getting people out of an apartment building, leaping out a window to take out a Frost Giant the hard way. Iron Man broadcasts that they’re hopelessly outnumbered and asks T’Challa if the transporter at Avengers Mountain is working. It can’t because it’s been hacked…by Dario Agger’s computer whizzes. Other heroes and villains are focused on by Jason Aaron, who could have had double the pages and still not covered the carnage completely, but what’s here is outstanding. Ghost Rider is witness to an epic moment and Spider-Man infuriates one of Malekith’s forces. Things change for the better with the arrival of a host of heroes on Pages 9 and 10. I love the dialogue in the second panel on 11. Something is done on 14 to help, but only upsets some of the heroes. The final page has a major moment that makes a severe change with a long time Marvel hero. This is epic. Overall grade: A+

The art: Matching the massive scale of the story are the stunning visuals by Russell Dauterman. The story opens with hundreds of people trying to enter Strange’s home. The image pulls in close to Jane, until she takes up one third of the page. She looks fantastic. However, it’s on this page that something occurs that absolutely mars the art throughout the book: computer blurring. This is a travesty on the pencils. Look in the third panel to see the citizen in the foreground blurred so that Jane and Bats appear in focus. Why, Marvel? Why, Russell? If anything, these blur effects make the visual look messy. I cannot understand why any company would do this. Dauterman’s art is epic and this blur effect is wholly awful. It draws the eye for negative reasons. The Punisher and Wolverine look cool on their pages, though the Punisher has only two facial expressions over his many years: yelling and focused while killing. It’s the latter in this issue. Captain American does an acrobatic move that has him look great. I like how other heroes are shown racing about, while Agger is calmly on the phone. Every hero and villain gets a scene until Page 9 and 10 which is a double-paged spread that shows reinforcements arriving. The detail is incredible on these characters and the battles that commence. Page 20 is the one that will keep fans talking for years to come. Unexpected, terrible, sad, and stunning. If only Dauterman’s art weren’t tweaked by computer. Overall grade: B+

The colors: Mathew Wilson’s colors on this book are brilliant. I love the eerie green given to Bats, the colors of Jane’s flesh, the blasts from the Punisher’s weapons, the THOOM on Page 4, the fire on 5 – 7, the glorious sunlight mixed with violet for the arrival of others, the blues of Frost Giants, the colors for Strange’s spell, and the oranges and reds that end the issue. Wow! Overall grade: A+

The letters: Scene settings, dialogue, Asgardian narration and speech, sounds, transmissions, and the television text are created by VC’s Joe Sabino. The scene settings are large letters on a white background square making them pop, the Asgardian text instantly identifies for the reader who is speaking, the sounds are incredibly fun, the transmissions show when Iron Man is speaking, and the television text resembles any of the print or crawl that’s to be found on news channels. Well done, Mr. Sabino! Overall grade: A+

The final line: Every hero and villain gets a moment, before the final two pages focus on the most important scene for a specific character. The story is epic, with heroes and villains clashing, while civilians run for shelter. The visuals would have received an A+ had there not been so much horrific computer blurring that only points how ineffective the technique is in comic books. I’d still recommend this book to any fan who wants to read a super hero saga. Overall grade: A-

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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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