I have to give Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Paul Pelletier, and Rick Magyar a lot of credit. The "War of Kings" mini-series is a good, solid dose of fun. First off, it delivers exactly what it promises. The war with the Shi'Ar versus the Kree and Inhumans is massive and exciting, with different factions and races both debuting and being destroyed at the drop of a hat. Abnett and Lanning never forget that this is a title with the word "war" and they're remembering basic tactics, like what happens when one side in a war gets overstretched and its resources spread too thinly.
"War of Kings" is also about the individuals fighting the war. All of the higher-ups in "War of Kings" have their own specific motivations; some personal, some for the sake of their race, some still keeping their plans a mystery. But what's so nice about this is that Abnett and Lanning are able to dip into different characters' viewpoints and keep the story rolling that way. From Lilandra's attempts to retake the Shi'Ar Imperium back from Vulcan, to Gladiator's shifting sides last issue, to Vulcan's own fury on discovering what's happening back at home while he's on the front lines, everyone has their own little story going on. Even supporting characters like the new Starjammers or Darkhawk have their part to play, and it's that feeling that everyone's story is continually moving forward that makes the comic work.
Best of all, though, is the smaller character bits. I never thought I'd be so entranced about the politically-arranged marriage between Crystal and Ronan, but it's playing out into a quiet, almost sweet story that brings to mind various period pieces from literature. I would cheerfully read an entire issue just about Crystal and Ronan trying to learn more about each other as well as looking out for their own people's interests, and I hope that Abnett and Lanning are able to continue this story after "War of Kings" comes to a close.
Pelletier and Magyar perform their usual, solid work on the art. They're able to hit the big moments, like massive spaceships attacking, just as easily as Crystal and Ronan out on the beach for a quiet escape from everything else around them. Pelletier's pencils haven't changed in years, and it's almost comforting to see their rounded, smooth style on the page. With Pelletier, you always know you're going to get a consistent, strong final product.
Reading "War of Kings" just reminds me that I need to check out Abnett and Lanning's work on the "Annihilation" mini-series, because "War of Kings" is a fun ride that will easily remind you why Marvel's outer space characters and races have been able to hold so much attention over the years. It's just fun, pure and simple.