The superhuman group known as the Guardians of the Galaxy tried to warn the Marvel Universe's various intergalactic empires. They knew that the fabric of the universe had already been strained by the two massive intergalactic conflicts known as the "Annihilation" Wars, and that any more large scale warfare could have disastrous consequences.
Unfortunately the galaxy's last two intergalactic great powers, The Shi'Ar Imperium and the Inhuman-Kree Empire did not heed the Guardians' warning and went to war with each other. It was a massive conflagration that came to be known as the "War of Kings," a series of battles marked by the detonations of world killing super weapons and large clashes between super powered beings. The final clash of the war saw the detonation of a super weapon so strong that it ripped a hole in the very fabric of the universe, a hole that's since been dubbed the Fault. So what does this mysterious new region of space mean for the balance of power in the cosmic corner of the Marvel Universe, and what's on the other side of the Fault? Where does this hole in space lead?
Writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning will answer these questions and more in "Realm of Kings," a storyline that will run through their ongoing series "Nova" and "Guardians of the Galaxy" as well as two mini-series, "Realm of Kings: Imperial Guard" and "Realm of Kings: Inhumans," and a "Realm of Kings" one-shot. CBR News spoke with Abnett and Lanning, who collectively answer their questions as DnA, about the "Realm of Kings" one-shot and how the event will play out in the pages of "Guardians of the Galaxy."
CBR: With "Realm of Kings," it looks like you are doing things differently from the previous cosmic events. Instead of a main mini-series, all four cosmic books will have their own separate storyline, though all will be related to the Fault. How important is the "Realm of Kings" one-shot to what's happening in the other four books? Does it directly impact those titles, or does it lay the ground work for a later story that will affect the cosmic books?
DnA: You're right - "Realm of Kings" is a thematic link that runs through all 4 books and details the various ways the characters interact and are affected by the Fault, this bizarre new region newly formed by a rip in the fabric of space and time. All the stories stem from the aftermath of the "War of Kings" series and springboard out of the events in the one-shot, which serves to set the scene and establish the threat that will be present throughout. Each title has major storylines that play out of the repercussions of "WoK" and have the Fault as a main setting; sort of like telling various stories from the worldwide theatre of combat in WWII. "Realm of Kings" is the overarching backdrop on which these tales takes place.
Let's talk a little bit about the one-shot, which is in stores this week. It stars Quasar, a character that you both have some affinity for. Why did you want to use Wendell Vaughn for this particular story?
We've always had a soft spot for Wendell, ever since we killed him off in the original "Annihilation" series. One of the things we strived for in the "Nova" mini-series was to make Wendell a genuinely likeable character. We felt that if we got the readers to relate and care for him, then the impact of his death would be that much more shocking. Thing is, we realized we liked him too and jumped at the chance that the "Secret Invasion" offered us with Project: P.E.G.A.S.U.S. to bring him back. Wendell is ideal for the role we've given him in the one-shot: he's the "Protector of the Universe" and has been looking for a new role for himself as he's been absent from the galactic stage for some time. The chance to explore and investigate the Fault is an opportunity he cannot let pass, and he's ideally qualified to act as scout and explorer as he believes his new energy form makes him almost invulnerable to the hazards of travel into this deadly territory.
What can you tell us about the plot of the one-shot? From the promotional images Marvel has released, it sounds like a tale of both exploration and alternate realities. Is this a space opera-style story, or does it have a darker tone?
It's a space opera with a darker tone. Space opera in that it picks up on the ongoing broader storylines we've built from "Annihilation: Conquest" [which covered the second Annihilation War] through "WoK" and how they play out with the various galactic civilizations and cosmic heroes. And it's darker because it ends up in a very strange, dangerous and twisted place indeed...
Another promotional image seems to indicate that Wendell is going to be confronted by a sinister looking alternate reality team of Avengers. Based on what we've seen, these characters almost look demonic. Is there anything you can tell us about these otherworldly Avengers?
Without giving too much away, this is an alternate universe, one of the infinite number that co- exists alongside ours and that the Fault has punctured, effectively punching a hole through the space between the space, creating a sucking chest wound in the universe, dragging fragments and "shrapnel" from the many alternate universes it tore through along the way. The Fault is an open wound, one that has fragments of otherworldly things floating within it, and one that leads to another universe, on "the other side" of ours. The Avengers you've seen in the previews exist in that other universe, and it's a place with a very different history to ours.
For the one-shot, you're working with both Leonardo Manco and Mahmud Asrar; two artists with very different styles. What do they bring to the book?
Mahmud's an excellent superhero artist who draws in the more traditional style. He's handling the art chores for the story that takes place in our universe, with Quasar boldly and heroically embarking on his mission to explore the Fault. Mahmud has given these sequences a bright, heroic quality with his clean, bold approach. While Leonardo, another excellent artist, but definitely more stylized when compared to Mahmud, is handling the art from the story that takes place within the "otherverse," which has its own, distinctive and forbidding feel which Leonardo has captured brilliantly.
The Guardians of the Galaxy kick off their involvement in "Realm of Kings" with issue #20 of their ongoing series, but in issue #19, five of their members were killed in a battle with the all-powerful intergalactic villain known as the Magus. Taking that into account, how would you describe their physical and emotional status when issue #20 begins? Are they shell-shocked, or are some coping with the deaths better than others?
Shell-shocked about covers it. The team is at an all time low, but they have got work to do, so they are keeping themselves busy as a way to cope with their grief. It's not long before they are even busier dealing with a major crisis onboard their headquarters Knowhere.
Among the dead in "Guardians" #19 was Cosmo, one of the Guardians chief supporters on Knowhere. Does Cosmo's death change the dynamic at all on Knowhere, or the Guardians ability to operate there?
The events in issue #19 and 20 will answer that question, as the Guardians find themselves locking horns with Knowhere's council [while being] supported by some unexpected allies.
What can you tell us about the plot and themes of the Guardians' "Realm of Kings" adventure? What types of obstacles and adversaries might you throw their way?
The Guardians story plays out their ongoing remit as galactic trouble shooters. No one listened to their warnings about the threat to cosmic integrity, and that lead directly to the creation of the Fault. They are now determined to make sure the Fault does not offer any more threat to the delicate fabric of the universe and are exploring and mapping its bizarre regions in an attempt to gain information that might lead them to close the interstellar tear for good. What they don't count on is factions who are actively embracing the Fault and oppose any interference with it. This will lead them into conflict and danger and will set up a broader story arc that will take the whole galaxy to the brink of disaster and throw up some very surprising obstacles and adversaries, indeed.
From the solicits, the "Guardians of the Galaxy" tie-in issues of "Realm of Kings look full of all-out action, intrigue and subterfuge. Would that be a correct assumption?
Action, intrigue and subterfuge sounds about right, but with the sly humor that our readers have come to expect, plus some jaw-dropping twists and turns and cliff-hangers. You know, run of the mill stuff for a rag-tag collection of misfit superheroes protecting the galaxy from inside a decapitated Celestial's head!
For the "Guardians" issues of "Realm of Kings," you're working with Brad Walker, who previously did the "GotG" tie-in issues of "War of Kings." What can people expect from Brad's art for this story?
Brad's artwork just gets better and better with every page he delivers and he started at a pretty bloody high point to begin with! His intricate and detailed pages are a joy to see. He not only delivers everything we're asking for, he's throwing everything into each page and every panel of the book. This guy is destined for super stardom. We just hope we can keep him for a while, because he really can deliver all the wild and crazy stuff we keep throwing at him. We've yet to stump him, and believe us, we keep trying!
For fans who may not already be reading Marvel's previous cosmic storylines, what do "Realm of Kings" and "Guardians of the Galaxy" have to offer them?
We're hoping people will join us for this new 'season' in Marvel's cosmic titles. If you're with us already, you'll love what we've got coming up, and if you've never tried them before, now is a great time to check out the cosmic stuff and see what you're missing out on. Epic sci-fi space opera, intense super heroics, action, adventure, wicked cool characters, truly evil villains, galactic threats, alternate realities, time travel, possession, tears in the fabric of space, dimensional "gribblies," cosmic conflicts, alien super-warriors, super sentient computers, walking trees, talking raccoons, telepathic dogs, and most of all, what we are really trying to strive for - comics that are fun!