The cosmos of the Marvel Universe always seems to be locked in conflict. Two massive “Annihilation” Wars and the Skrull “Secret Invasion” of Earth ignited the galaxy’s latest conflagration, a “War of Kings” between intergalactic superpowers the Shi’Ar Empire and the kingdom of the Kree and Inhumans. That war recently came to an end in “War of Kings” #6 with the apparent deaths of the titular kings, Vulcan and Black Bolt. The kings died in a great explosion, one that left behind a gaping hole in the fabric of space and time.
What is the exact nature of this tear in reality? What does it mean for the political landscape of the galaxy? What conflicts will arise from it?
As announced Saturday at the Mondo Marvel Panel at Wizard World Chicago, these questions and more will be answered in “Realm of Kings,” an epic new space opera from Marvel’s go-to team for cosmic adventure, writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. CBR News spoke with the duo -- who do participate in interviews collectively as DnA -- about the event, which kicks off in November.
When Black Bolt prepared to detonate the T-Bomb in “War of Kings” #6, he thought he was using a weapon that would eventually bring peace to the spaceways of the Marvel Universe. He had no idea he would create a rift in space and create even more conflict between intergalactic societies. “The Fault - the hole in time and space - has far reaching consequences for the galaxy as a whole. It is a universal crisis that could either represent a fundamental threat to the whole cosmos or be the source of untapped power and resources,” DnA told CBR News. “Whatever it proves to be, there are many factions in the Marvel Cosmic Universe who want to explore and exploit its secrets and mysteries. ‘Realm of Kings’ will show its impact upon the cosmic stage through various characters' points of view: Novas, the Guardians of the Galaxy, the Inhumans and Kree, and the Shi'Ar Empire.”
The quest to understand and possibly exploit The Fault means “Realm of Kings” will be a different type of story than “War of Kings” was. “There's definitely conflict, but it will also have a good dash of political intrigue and power-brokering as we get to see the machinations behind two great galactic Empires in the wake of a cosmic war,” DnA explained.” Which is something readers and creators don't often get to explore after these sort of space war stories.”
“Realm of Kings” doesn’t officially begin until November, but some information about the Fault and its immediate impact on the cosmos will be revealed in the September one-shot “War of Kings: Who Will Rule” by DnA and artist Paul Pelletier. “‘WWR’ serves as both epilogue and prologue. It ties up the story strands from ‘War of Kings’ #6, so we get to see the political and astrographical fallout from the end of the war,” DnA explained. “We see how the events impact on all the remaining players, Inhumans, Kree and Shi'Ar alike, and what damage has been wrought on the very fabric of time and space. This will set the scene for the 'Realm of Kings' books that follow.”
“Realm of Kings” beings in a November one-shot by DnA and artist Leonardo Manco. “The one-shot is designed to give readers an exciting introduction to the dramatic possibilities the Fault holds,” DnA revealed. “It's an adventure that focuses on Wendall Vaughn, Quasar, as he attempts to explore the Fault on behalf of Project PEGASUS, aiming to relay information on this startling new anomaly.”
The “Realm of Kings” one-shot sets the stage for two five-issue miniseries that also launch in November. “Realm of Kings: Inhumans” by DnA and artist Pablo Raimondi follows the Royal Family of the Inhumans in the wake of “War of Kings” and the “Who Will Rule” one-shot. “It will focus on courtly intrigues following Black Bolt's death and their continuing mission to rule the Kree Empire,” DnA said. “We will see how their king's death has affected the main players, and deal with the strained relations between Medusa and Crystal as well as the curious, blossoming relationship between Crystal and Ronan. All of this plays out as the Inhumans discover that ruling an ancient militaristic culture like the Kree comes with its own problems.”
The second five-issue miniseries will be “Realm of Kings: Imperial Guard” by DnA and Kev Walker, and will focus on the exploits of the chief superpowered defenders of the Shi’Ar Empire. “The Imperial Guard series is our out-and-out tales of combat series, treating the Guard as elite military echelon rather than a team of superheroes, but will also give us the opportunity to develop and explore some of the characters that make up this seasoned team of cosmic soldiers,” DnA explained. “We'll be focusing in on Gladiator's role and see how he deals with this most uncomfortably new position [in ‘War of Kings’ #6, it looked as if Gladiator had become the new Shi’Ar Emperor] as well as getting right into the front-line action with the Guardsmen like Mentor, Hussar, Titan, Smasher and other favorites as they embark on a dangerous mission into the Fault with unexpected new teammates!”
The Guardians of the Galaxy originally came together to keep a the fragile cosmos from unraveling, so the existence of The Fault is the team’s worst-case-scenario come to life. They’ll become embroiled in “Realm of Kings” in issues #20-24 “Guardians of the Galaxy,” written by DnA and featuring art by Brad Walker and Wes Craig. “Oh yes, and they are not going to let anyone forget that they told them so too! The Guardians' remit is to make sure that exactly this sort of thing doesn't happen and they've kind of dropped the ball on this one,” DnA said. “ They will have to deal with the consequences of the end of the war, which are pretty devastating for them, as well as attempting to do something about the situation that the universe now finds itself placed in. It's going to be a busy time for them in the next few months!”
The chaos caused by the Fault also ensnares Richard Rider, a.k.a. Nova, and his fledgling Corps of Nova Centurions in “Nova” #31-35 by DnA and artist Andrea DiVito. “’Realm of Kings’ has a very immediate and resounding consequence for Richard and his new Corps, one that will alter their status quo significantly and affect them for the foreseeable future,” DnA hinted. “And as the 'lone ranger' of space, Richard will find himself having to deal with the Galaxy's Most Wanted -- a man called Darkhawk! This will lead him into a confrontation with an ancient evil from his past -- and his future!”
“Realm of Kings” is DnA’s third cosmic event storyline in a row. The two also penned the main “Annihilation: Conquest” booknthe entirety of “War of Kings” and its many tie-ins. Writing such epic space operas can be labor-intensive, but for Abnett and Lanning, it’s a labor of love. “It's what we both grew up reading: ‘Captain Marvel,’ ‘Warlock,’ ‘Nova,’ The Guardians of the Galaxy, ‘Killraven’- all the cosmic and sci-fi stuff Marvel was putting out in the late ‘70s and ‘80s. So for us, to actually be writing these characters and contributing to their stories, is our ideal gig,” DnA said. “It's also given us a chance to reintroduce some classic characters back into the MU - folks like Starlord, Rocket Raccoon and the like, characters who aren't considered mainstays or vital to ongoing Marvel continuity, but that we've always loved.
“And because they're not primary Marvel characters, there's also a real sense of threat and danger to the stories we can write for them, as we are afforded a great deal more latitude to do whatever we want with them -- within the bounds of reason and good taste, of course!”