‘War Of The Realms #2’ Bathes NYC in Fire and Blood

War of The Realms #2 

From MAJK’s Coffee Corner: 

War of The Realms #2 broke my heart. Correction. It shattered it into a million pieces then set those pieces on fire. War of The Realms #2 picks up mid-battle. There are moments of triumphs and utter despair. Marvel kicked off its War of the Realms event on April 3rd, 2019, with a massive first issue brimming with hyperkinetic action, flawless character moments, and more than a little tragedy. War of The Realms #2 continues the breakneck pace, reminding us everything and everyone Thor lore is fair game. Malekith’s out for blood, and any blood will do, but he is very partial to Asgardian blood.

We’ve seen Odin and Loki taken out, and now it appears yet another favorite Marvel character joins the War of the Realms kill list. There are at least three major turning points in War of The Realms #2. If you aren’t reading The War of The Realms comics, you are missing the most adrenaline-fueled, emotional roller coaster of a crossover event in recent history, complete with stunning visuals.

Keep your tissues and your ale close. We are seeing a lot of great moments and causalities. No one is safe, and nothing is guaranteed. The War of the Realms like The Age of X-man will reshape the Marvel Comic Universe as we know it.

Creative Team: 

Publisher: Marvel     Writer: Jason Aaron     Artist: Russell Dauterman

Colors: Matt Wilson     Lettering: VC’s Joe Sabino

Cover Artist: Arthur Adams & Matthew Wilson

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Variant Covers:

  • War Of The Realms #2 Lopez International Connecting Variant
  • War Of The Realms #2 Garron Young Guns Variant
  • War Of The Realms #2 Camuncoli Connecting Realm Variant
  • War Of The Realms #2 1:50 Julian Totino Tedesco Variant
  • War Of The Realms #2 1:200 Art Adams B&W Variant
  • War Of The Realms #2 1:25 Victor Hugo Variant
MAJOR SPOILER Warning for War of The Realms #1

The Story So Far: 

War of The Realms #1 opens in Asgard. Odin weakened and weary pondered the sense of doom that clung to his devastated realm, with the Bifrost Bridge shattered and the absence of his fellow Asgardians. From the gloom stepped Malekith’s assassins and their brutal assault on the All-Father seems to herald his demise.

At the same time on Earth, Loki’s broken and battered from crashes to the feet of Thor and his hellhound Thori. Loki warns Thor of Malekith’s arrival. Thor demands that Loki teleport him to Malekith. Loki transports Thor to Jotunheim just missing Thori’s warning that Loki smells wrong. In Jotunheim, Loki reveals he is Malekith and Thor is now trapped, unable to defend Midgard. Malekith leaves as the Frost Giants attack.

Following Thor’s Abduction, Malekith attacks Midgard/Earth. The first wave hits New York, and Spider-Man comes across Freyja, fighting Malekith’s assassins. After the assassins are defeated, Freya, Lady Sif, and her Valkyries and Jane Foster bring Spidey up to speed. At that moment, the very air explodes, and Nightmares form every realm pour into New York. The forces of Malekith discover that Midgard has no shortage of heroes ready defend to it, but the heroes face overwhelming odds. This is The War of the Realms and where there is war, casualties are inevitable.

The first to fall in New York was the most unexpected. Laufey is about to eat Freya when Loki arrives. (See Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #43 for his prior whereabouts.) Loki lops off Laufey’s hand saving his adopted mother. Loki reveals that Thor is the key to ending the war. Loki tells Freya Thor’s alive and trapped in Jotunheim fighting Frost Giants.

Laufey berates his son as a traitor and Freya doubts she can trust him. To prove he is worthy of being trusted Loki sacrifices himself. He has his reasons (read Thor #12).

Spoiler Warning: If you have not read War of The Realms #2 There May Be Spoilers Below

War of The Realms #2 Cover Art 

While there are more than a few gorgeous covers for War of The Realms #2, I purchased the Young Guns Variant. If you aren’t familiar with Marvel’s Young Guns program, it’s Marvel’s way to spotlight up-and-coming artists. Russell Dauterman is one of the current “young guns” as is the gentleman who created the variant cover I chose to buy, Javier Garrón. Truthfully all the covers were stellar.

While many of the variants featured Valkyrie, I liked Garrón’s the best. Valkrie’s confident and very self-satisfied expression while perched atop her fallen foe was a big selling point for me. The clean lines and bright colors give the cover a feeling somewhere between comic and anime. It speaks life. It’s as if any moment she’ll step from the page. Her pose is perfect in its simplicity. She’s not contorted in some weird, male-gaze satisfying position. She’s simply triumphant. Knowing what I know after reading the issue, this is the perfect cover for me. Thank you Javier Garrón!

The Call of Duty 

War of The Realms #2 carries a huge amount of dramatic weight, and while this story builds heavily around Thor and his family, it also ropes in Jane Foster. This makes perfect sense given her tenure as Thor. She is, very much, a part of Thor’s family. From the opening pages, it’s clear that Jane will play a major role in this story. She feels it from the start, the call that pushes ordinary (and not-so-ordinary) people to reach beyond their limits in the face of overwhelming odds. It’s the call of duty. That call that keeps a stoic Frank Castle mowing down Dark Elf after Dark Elf as the city burns around him. It’s that call shoving Captain America from the top of twenty-story buildings on to a Frost Giant’s face to knocking it out cold.

Jane’s story is far from over. It doesn’t matter that she renounced the mantle of Thor last year. She is bound to the fate of a hero, and that is evident in this issue. From her assisting in the evacuation of civilians, to hitching a ride with Brunhildr, to demanding to be taken to Malekith, through final pages of War of The Realms #2 as Freya, the All-Mother, confers upon her a new title and all the responsibility it entails. Whatever happens, whenever needed, Jane Foster will answer the call of duty. She cannot resist her fate as a hero.

War of The Realms #2 Spoils Asgardians of the Galaxy  

It’s not entirely fair to say that War of The Realms #2 spoils Asgardians of the Galaxy but it’s also not wrong. In Asgardians of the Galaxy #8, Annabelle was transported to the Valkyries, and we left off with them demanding to know the whereabouts of Brunhildr. We see Brunhildr in a surprise appearance in War of The Realms #2 leading the Valkyries to battle, bringing with her an Asgardian previously thought dead. These reinforcements even things out a bit, and we see a glimmer of hope. From the preview, it looks like Asgardians of the Galaxy #9 will take us back in time and explain how Annabelle/Valkyrie got from there to here. I’d also like to know how she managed to pick up her surprise escort on the way.

Broken Tech, Broken Magic 

In the early pages of War of The Realms #2, The Avengers are desperate to teleport civilians out of the city but unable to do so because Roxxon hackers led by Dario Agger shut down the systems at Avengers Mountain. People gather at Doctor Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum while the Sorcerer Supreme works to cast a spell that will take them all to the safety of Avengers Mountain, but a coven of Dark Elf witches have restrained his use of magic.

Blade and Jane Foster both discover the witches blocking Strange, and Jane takes them out, rescuing Blade in the process. Doctor Strange is able to summon the magic necessary to open the portal to Avengers Mountain, but both the amount of magic and the soul price it extracts are extreme. It’s more than Strange can control, and the spell works too well. Civilians are teleported out of the city but so are The Avengers. This leaves only the Valkyries and a few Asgardians to face the hordes. The result is horrifically bloody, and Valkyrie’s fate is sealed as a despondent Jane Foster watches with tears streaming down her face.

 

 War of The Realms #2 Writing & Art

Aaron creates an impressive crossover in how he balances the needs of new readers and long-term fans. War of The Realms is massive enough in scope and scale that it encompasses a major portion of the MCU. In War of the Realms #2 Aaron deftly weaves character-appropriate moments and high-stakes kinetic action with humorous bits of culture clash to exquisite effect. He steps in close to let us see how key members of the crossover’s extensive cast deal with Frost Giants, Fire Demons, Angels, and Dark Elves in the heart of New York. He escalates the stakes and intensity while sprinkling bit of comic relief in precise amounts as a gourmet chef would season a signature dish. The Punisher and Wolverine meeting up and “catching up” is just the appetizer in a tantalizing and tension-filled issue.

In War of the Realms #2, slaughter is legitimately brutal and disturbing reminding us of the dire consequences of failure. Aaron is careful not to overdo it and fun moments such as Stark’s remark, “It’s like a Dungeons & Dragons bomb went off!” as well as bright blessings of hope like the Valkyries’ timely arrival keep our faith alive even as tragedy repeating strikes.

War of The Realms #2 nails the scale and execution required to live up to its predecessor and prevent the sophomore entry from drooping. As fire and blood raining from the heavens both figuratively and literally, Dauterman and Wilson ratchet up the visuals in a rising crescendo that matches the intensifying conflict. The full-page splash of the arrival of the Valkyries is spectacular. The detailing in the linework brings even the secondary Valkyries to life. The color palette chosen is perfect. The pinks and blues in soft pastel shades set the scene apart from the screaming red tones of the city at war. The shading and colors blend to create an ethereal quality that breathes hope.

Dauterman and Wilson render their apocalyptic vision of an embattled New York City blending fantasy monsters, powerful magic, mythological heroes, and superhumans in captivating close scenes and arresting panoramic views. Sabino’s lettering leaps to life, sound effects are bold and exaggerated, vividly punctuating the optics so that action and emotion stream from the page or whisper into your brain as appropriate.

The final two pages exemplify the incredible synergy of this creative team. The fierce Valkyrie Brunehildr rages from her triumphant perch atop a mountain of dead bodies, her face streaked with blood. Blades of fallen foes protrude from her arms and legs. Her spirit is unbroken. Sabino’s font choices keep the exposition sounding even toned and ominous, while Valkyrie’s word balloons yell defiance. The orange and red tones blaze from the background matching the ferocity of the warrior. It is glorious. The final page punctuates this issue with an emotional gut punch that has me itching for the next War of The Realms offering.

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 What’s With That Hair?

If I were looking to complain about something, the worst thing I could say would be about Freya’s hair. Seriously, is Bouffant all the rage in Asgard? She can think that’s a flattering style. I mean I do love Freya but the hair is killing me! How much Aqua-Net does it take to keep her hair looking like that through fire, and battle? Even being dropped by a Frost giant didn’t muss her ‘do.

War of The Realms Comics To Date:

Week #1 (April 3)

Week #2 (April 10)

Week #3 (April 17)

  • War of the Realms #2
  • Thor #12
  • Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #43
  • War of the Realms: War Scrolls #1
  • War of the Realms: Punisher #1

Coming this Week (April 24):

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  • Avengers (2018-) #18
  • War of The Realms: Uncanny X-Men (2019-) #1
  • Venom (2018-) #13

 War of The Realms #3: May 1, 2019

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