While "X-Men: Kingbreaker" claims to be a primer for “War of the Kings” -- Marvel’s next cosmic crossover -- it's impossible not to see this series as the second part of a story that began in the recent miniseries, “Emperor Vulcan.” There’s a definite sense that readers have arrived with this series already in full swing, and it makes for a pacey first issue –- sometimes too fast to actually explain what’s going on.
This series begins with many of the Starjammers (including former X-Men, Havok and Polaris) imprisoned, shows the other half of their group (Korvus, Lilandra and Rachel Summers) engaged in a plot to free their ship from Vulcan (the character, not the planet) and takes the time to depict Vulcan consolidating his leadership of the Shi’ar Empire.
All fair enough, but it’s unexplained, for example, why a group of space-pirates need to specifically free their own ship rather than get a new one, and there’s no satisfactory reason given as to why Vulcan has even allowed the captured Starjammers to keep their lives. The story as a whole seems more concerned with sticking to genre conventions than carving out its own identity.
However, Yost’s characterization actually makes this a better read than it sounds. The voice of each individual has been nailed, whether you’re talking about Ch’od’s single line or Havok and Vulcan’s extended, ranting conversations. That alone saves the book from overwhelming mediocrity.
Time will tell whether the “War of the Kings” tag means this series is actually important to the crossover or not -- Marvel has a habit of tacking tie-in banners onto books a little more forgivingly than most would, and the series’ status as a sequel to an earlier mini makes it hard to see that it could be an essential part of the build-up. That said, if you enjoyed “Emperor Vulcan,” it’s definitely worth a read; if you’re interested in “War of the Kings” it should, at the very least, prime you on the status of the Shi’ar and Vulcan who will be a major part of that story. Anyone else can probably give it a miss without too much worry.