I have to say, it's rather nice to see Marvel having so much fun with their outer space characters the past few years. With so many alien heroes, villains, species, and empires established over the years, it made sense that sooner or later someone would remember them and bring them back to the forefront. With stories like "Annihilation" becoming such a big success, it was easy to see them sticking around. So with their latest event, "War of Kings," it seemed like a good a time as any for me to dip my toe into the water and see just what it's all about.
So far? If the rest of it is as entertaining as "Secret Invasion: War of Kings," I'll be happy. Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning do a good job of bringing readers up to speed, both on the state of Marvel outer space empires in general as well as what's been happening to the Inhumans as of late. (There's also a "War of Kings Saga" give-away out there that gives even further details, but I was pleased that I was able to read "Secret Invasion: War of Kings" without needing any additional assistance.) And, with the reader up to speed, "Secret Invasion: War of Kings" kicks off the safeties and blasts full-force into a big outer space war. It's a smart usage of the Inhumans, really showing them for the incredibly powerful and potentially deadly force that they really should be. So often when writers use the Inhumans they seem curiously muted and crippled, but Abnett and Lanning take the characters to their full, awesome potential. It's a strong set-up for out-and-out war, and it actually made me want to go back and read comics like "Secret Invasion" and "Guardians of the Galaxy," so Abnett and Lanning are definitely doing something right.
The majority of the book is penciled by Paul Pelletier, who drew CrossGen Publishing's outer space saga "Negation" many years ago. It's a solid art style; it's never terribly flashy, but Pelletier knows how to tell a story well and in a way that pulls the reader through each panel with ease. There are some little bits here and there that play to Pelletier's strengths, from Medusa's incredible flowing hair (it looks positively liquid under Pelletier's pencils), to the expressions of glee, worry, and scheming on the various characters' faces. My best guess is that Bong Dazo handled the pencils in the opening sequence, and they're good too; I like how Dazo draws the Skrull ships limping through the Arkano Nebula, and he's able to build up tension very easily in his art.
In the end, "Secret Invasion: War of Kings" is a fun little action romp. If everyone involved in "War of Kings" is able to maintain this level of fun and excitement, Marvel will once again have another hit on their hands. I'll definitely be back for the next installment.