I'm starting to wonder if Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning are pulling the reader's leg with "War of Kings: Ascension." It's hard not to laugh at a main character, after all, who discovers that all of his anger management problems have nothing to do with his alien suit of armor that he's been blaming it on for years. You can almost hear Abnett and Lanning regretfully deleting an additional line of dialogue stating, "No Darkhawk, you're just a tool, that's all."
But I'm probably getting ahead of myself. The bulk of "War of Kings: Ascension" has now turned to showing the flipside of "War of Kings" #4, letting us see the events and actions that lead to that issue's shocking finale involving Darkhawk. In theory, it sounds like a good idea. I actually liked the basic thrust behind the issue, as we see just what the Raptors are doing now that Darkhawk has lost control of the armor, and we see just what a bad thing that is for both our universe as well as the Negative Zone. The problem is that neither Razor nor Talon are compelling characters; they're actually slightly generic villains and watching them continue to interact with Blastaar or plan future attacks is a little bit boring.
Meanwhile, Darkhawk himself? I hate to say it but while he's still irritating, I'm finding it almost funny to watch him flail around and continually discover that every assumption or choice he's making is wrong, these days. I have to admit that I felt a little bad for him once the truth about how the armor works showed up this issue (it's sufficiently creepy), but at the same time he's a character that I think works best in small doses.
I have to give Wellinton Alves credit. Drawing a comic where one of the main characters is without clothes can get a little tricky, to put it mildly. Alves definitely has command of the page, though, never making it look awkward or forced. In general Alves' art reminds me a bit of "War of Kings" artist Paul Pelletier's work. It's got that slightly puffy, full look to it here, especially in the Negative Zone scenes. Alves is a good match for the "War of Kings" event, and it provides a lot of visual continuity between the two.
"War of Kings: Ascension" is getting a little stronger with each issue, and while I'm not sold on the possibility of this somehow turning into a new "Darkhawk" series down the line, the idea isn't as scary as it once might have been. In terms of fitting into the rest of "War of Kings," I have to give Abnett and Lanning credit, they know exactly how to piece together an epic like this.