Best Shots Advance Review: WAR OF THE REALMS #1 is 'Heavy Metal Fun' (9/10)

"War of the Realms #1" preview
Credit: Russell Dauterman/Matthew Wilson (Marvel Comics)
Credit: Arthur Adams (Marvel Comics)

War of the Realms #1
Written by Jason Aaron
Art by Russell Dauterman and Matthew Wilson
Lettering by Joe Sabino
Published by Marvel Comics
‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10

”You want these hands, Malekith? Believe me, you’re going to get them!


Jason Aaron’s swan song with the Mighty Thor kicks off in grand fashion in the debut of the War of the Realms. Melding the burly high fantasy of his Thor run with the cinematic, action-heavy fun of his Avengers series, this event’s opening salvo might drag a bit in the middle thanks to a bit of event narrative housekeeping, but still delivers rousing action and clever scripting that hits harder than most recent comic book events. Big, bold, and fist-pumpingly awesome throughout, War of the Realms #1 might just be the book to beat this week.

Credit: Russell Dauterman/Matthew Wilson (Marvel Comics)
Credit: Russell Dauterman/Matthew Wilson (Marvel Comics)

Equal parts fantasy epic and widescreen superhero event, Aaron mashes both the mystical and material world together with this debut script, tied together even tighter by his often hilarious and propulsive script. While there’s a little bit of clunkiness as Aaron has to accommodate for various characters who are either out of commission or being reserved for tie-ins elsewhere, Aaron quickly recovers, either by some wicked turn of phrase like the Dark Elves’ menacing threats before leaping into battle, or by another awesome hero moment like Cap’s opening volley against Malekith or Loki’s “handy” save toward the issue’s cliffhanger. The script could be a bit tighter at times, but you can’t say it isn’t a lot of fun.

Credit: Russell Dauterman/Matthew Wilson (Marvel Comics)

And War of the Realms #1 has the looks to match as well, thanks to Russell Dauterman and Matthew Wilson. Even beyond the novelty of having the Mighty Thor band back together, Dauterman and Wilson seem born to illustrate event comic books. Even the smaller scenes, like of the gathering of this event’s heroes or comedic beats involving Thor’s hellhound Thori are broken into eye-grabbing, cinematic layouts just to keep the energy of the issue up. When they go big, they really go big detailing splashy action awash with vibrant colors across barely contained layouts; it’s almost as if the artwork is testing the very limits of the page itself.

Credit: Russell Dauterman/Matthew Wilson (Marvel Comics)

The art team is similarly hamstrung by the more expository scenes, however. Though Dauterman handles the action and character beats well, once things fully settle down and Aaron starts piling on the dialogue, the art looks somewhat stiff. One major example of this is during Spider-Man’s meeting with Freyja and the Asgardian refugees, where the dialogue builds up dramatically, even as Dauterman is already straining to keep all these various characters fitting in their respective panels.

Credit: Russell Dauterman/Matthew Wilson (Marvel Comics)

But some occasional slowness cannot sink the heavy metal fun that is War of the Realms #1. Armed with a bombastic script from Jason Aaron and expansive, richly colored artwork from Russell Dauterman and Matthew Wilson, this opening issue swings for the fences and largely clears them. Could it have lost a few pages in the middle? For certain — but even with its occasional pacing hiccups, War of the Realms #1 is one of the rare excellent starts for an event. While it’s impossible to tell what this war will bring in future installments — especially given the numerous tie-in books for this event — this debut heralds big fun and even bigger stakes for the mythic side of the Marvel Universe.

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