Tour of the Marvel Cosmos: Your Guide to REALM OF KINGS

Right To Assemble 3: The Dark Avengers

When Marvel announced in December 2005 that they were dusting off their cosmic characters for a little attention, it would have been impossible to predict just how much attention that would end up generating.

Four years later, Marvel's cosmic characters have supported more than one major event and are featured in two ongoing series, Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy.

And this fall, the cosmic corner of the universe goes weekly as Marvel will release a new cosmic comic just about every week under the banner "Realm of Kings."

As the cosmic characters head into this latest phase, Newsarama is taking a "Tour of the Marvel Cosmos" with the two writers who control that corner of the Marvel Universe: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. Over the next few weeks leading up to November's "Realm of Kings" stories, we'll be exploring a different cosmic concept with the writers each week.

And for readers who might be new to the whole cosmic thing, we'll provide a few basics about the characters, teams and royal families who are front-and-center in these comics.

For this week's installment, we start with the Empires. As the war ends and new stories begin, the former "borders" that separated the key empires have changed and alliances have been altered. So let's take a look at where things stand:


- The Kree: Winners of the war. War of Kings saw the formation of an alliance between the Kree Stellar Empire and the Inhumans, and as the dust settled at the end of the war, the two forces had defeated the Shi'Ar.

Abnett and Lanning: "As the victors of the War of Kings, the Kree Stellar Empire is in a very strong position, with effective control over the Shi'Ar territories. It will also really help the reputations of both the Kree (who have taken quite a battering the last few years, particularly during both Annihilation Events) and the Inhuman royal family to have won such a major war. Other races and civilizations are going to have to take them very seriously from now on. "

- The Inhumans: The marriage of Crystal Maximoff to Ronan the Accuser cemented the alliance between the Inhumans and the Kree. However, the allied Kree/Inhumans have suffered the loss of their king, Black Bolt, who was caught in the blast that ended the war.

Abnett and Lanning: "Medusa is de facto ruler of the Empire now that Black Bolt is assumed dead. It'll be interesting to see what kind of ruler she makes. She is surrounded by very able advisors, such as Karnak, Gorgon, Triton and even Maximus, not to mention the steadying influence of Crystal and her husband Ronan, who seem to have the interests of the Kree themselves at heart."

- The Shi'Ar: Vulcan led the Shi'Ar into a devastating war. Now that Vulcan has been eliminated, the Shi'Ar are under the control of the Kree. The new leader of the Shi'Ar is the former Gladiator, Kallark.

Abnett and Lanning: "The Shi'Ar Imperium, though much larger and stronger than the Kree Empire at the start of the war, has suffered a humiliating defeat and its infamously capable war machine has been decimated. The Imperium faces a long and uphill process of rebuilding. The Kree Empire, and therefore Medusa, has over all control of the Shi'Ar Imperium, but they have been smart enough to allow the Shi'Ar to retain some sense of self and identity rather than becoming an enormous new offshoot of the Kree Empire. They have placed Kallark on the throne to rule the Imperium as Majestor. Kallark has, for the longest time, been Gladiator, the Praetor of the Imperial Guard and the greatest champion of the Shi'Ar Imperium. Though there is a danger that the people will not regard him as noble-born enough to be Majestor, he still commands great respect, and though he is reluctant to take on this role, he may be the only person with the strength to bring the Imperium back together."

Challenges Ahead

- The Fault: When Black Bolt and Vulcan disappeared and were presumably destroyed at the end of the war, the resulting blast was so huge and destructive that it ripped a hole in the fabric of space-time. Called "The Fault," this rip will play a key role in upcoming stories under the "Realm of Kings" banner and is the main challenge ahead for the Empires.

Abnett and Lanning: "Apart from the costly rebuilding on both sides following the war, the major crisis has got to be The Fault. Not only does this gigantic cosmic rip in the fabric of space-time physically threaten both empires, but, so far, no one has been able to answer the question of what lies within it. This will undoubtedly be the main focus of the drama in all our stories for the next little while, while the Realm of Kings one-shot gets to the heart of this mystery."

- Blastaar: Blastaar, ambitious ruler of the Negative Zone, is also inheritor of Anihilus' Cosmic Control Rod. His power and hunger for more make him a challenge in the coming conflicts.

Abnett and Lanning: "There are many cosmic forces and entities that will use the opportunity of the post-war turmoil to take advantage for their own gain. Most prominently, we must remember Blastaar. On top of all of his power, he took part in the War of Kings on the side of the Shi’Ar and ended up with control of the Ceded Territories, which are part of the Kree Empire and include the empire’s old capital world Kree-Lar. This gives him a foothold in our universe, and we know how ambitious he can be."

Where To Find Their Stories

- Realm of Kings: The whole series kicks off with a one-shot on November 18th that explains The Fault and sets up the stories for all the cosmic series. Before that, two different five-issue mini-series begin: Realm of Kings: Inhumans, which will follow the Inhumans storyline, and Realm of Kings: Imperial Guard, which will tell the story of the Shi'Ar.

Abnett and Lanning: "The overall cosmic situation also forms an ongoing backdrop to both Nova and the Guardians of the Galaxy, and in forthcoming issues of the Guardians in particular you can expect to see a lot of interplay with the post-war Inhuman characters. Nova’s adventures over the next few months are going to be very Fault orientated, but there will be an encounter with a character absolutely pivotal to the Kree/Shi’Ar situation."

Check back next week as we continue our "Tour of the Cosmos" with Abnett and Lanning, this time focusing on the characters and conflicts that readers will find in Guardians of the Galaxy.

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