Thirty-two pages of story –- albeit story that has been collected from the Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited –- featuring background on two of the warriors from "War of Kings" comes at an odd time with regards to the "War" mini itself. One week after the release of "war of Kings" #5, this issue features two tales written by Christos N. gage. Gage uses this opportunity to depict the individual stories that led Gladiator and Blastaar to the War while also providing the reader with some insight as to what makes these characters tick.
A fan favorite character, Gladiator's origin is drawn by Mahmud A. Asrar of "Dynamo 5" fame. His style is well suited to the tale of upheaval, loyalty, and dedication. Gladiator's development certainly has accelerated in "War of Kings," but here we get a peek inside Gladiator's thoughts. Those thoughts play into the current developments in "War of Kings." Given the secrets of the weakness of Gladiator's people, my interest is piqued to see if it plays into the developments in "War of Kings" #6.
Carlos Magno delivers heavily-shaded, yet detail-packed tale of Blastaar's homecoming visit to Baluur. His Blastaar carries the same mass Pelletier established in the pages of "Guardians of the Galaxy". The battle Blastaar (what, you thought his homecoming would feature a parade?) engages in is filled with pyrotechnics and Kirby crackle –- a true sci-fi special effects dream-come-true on paper.
Gage's work here is well placed. He manages to define the core of each of these characters while adding a little character to the warriors. Gladiator and Blastaar are both depicted as competent and decisive, powerful and driven. What drives each is what makes these characters different. The degree of that drive ties them together. This issue could have easily been re-titled "War of Kings: Badasses." It may have sold more, and it certainly would have been apropos to the characters depicted within.
This title is to Marvel Digital Comics what the hardcovers and paperbacks are to Marvel floppy comics. Some folks may have read this online as the serials were produced, but here, collected in totality for the first time, these stories offer a new set of details about the war raging in the Marvel Universe this summer.