Overall- If this comic book was an earthquake, it would rate a 10 on the Richter Scale. If it was a tornado, it would be classified an F5. If it was a hurricane, it would be a Category 5. I think you catch my drift here. Before I give a review for this comic book itself, here's some important background information.
Vulcan(Gabriel Summers, Cyclops and Havok's younger brother)has taken complete control of the Shi'ar empire after deposing former Shi'ar leader D'Ken. Lilandra, the leader of the Shi'ar prior to D'Ken, is travelling with the Starjammers, who are considered to be terrorists by the Shi'ar. The important members of the Starjammers include Havok(the current leader), Marvel Girl(Rachel Grey), and Polaris(Lorna Dane). Black Bolt of the Inhumans has conquered the Kree Empire in a(relatively)bloodless coup. For the most part, since the death of their longtime leader/God, the Supreme Intelligence, the Kree had been looking for a strong leader and Black Bolt and the Inhuman Royal Family fit that bill nicely. The Shi'ar are the preeminent cosmic force in the Marvel Universe, with the Kree holding the second largest interstellar empire. OK, that's the set-up for this issue, here's the review.
The Starjammers have fled from Shi'ar space and are rapidly approaching the protective force field surrounding the Kree worlds. The Starjammer ship is being pursued by a Shi'ar Superdestroyer. The Kree force field lowers just long enough to allow the Starjammer ship through after Polaris demands entry on account of her being the sister-in-law to Crystal of the Inhuman Royal Family. After the Starjammer ship enters Kree space, the force field goes back up, and the Shi'ar superdestroyer smashes into it, which destroys the ship completely.
On Hala, the Kree Homeworld, Crystal of the Inhumans is preparing to be married to Ronan the Accuser, who is probably the most famous Kree, amongst the Kree people. Crystal sees the marriage as nothing more than a symbol of unification between the Kree and the Inhumans. While Crysal prepares for the wedding, Lilandra pleads with Black Bolt and his wife, Medusa for asylum, telling Black Bolt and Medusa that Vulcan is insane and wants to kill her. Lilandra also warns the Inhumans that Vulcan will inevitably make power play against the Kree empire as well. Medusa listens, but doesn't seem all that concerned about the power of the Shi'ar, or about Vulcan himself.
While that is occurring, Vulcan is gearing up for something big and is inspecting the members of the Shi'ar Imperial Guard, who are the Shi'ar's super-powered military elite, along with the Imperial Guards leader, the Uber-powerful Gladiator. What is Vulcan planning? We shall see soon enough...
The wedding of Crystal and Ronan commences with no outward problem, but far away from the wedding, a member of the Imperial Guard, the shape-shifting Hobgoblin, has managed to make his way to the Kree Babel Spire, which is the conduit that powers the force field protecting the Kree empire from invasion. Hobgoblin sacrifices his life and destroys the Spire, which drops all of the Kree's defense mechanisms.
Back at the wedding, with the Kree shields down, a huge contingent of Imperial Guardians, led by Gladiator himself, launch a sneak attack upon the gathering. Vulcan sits in the Imperial Shi'ar spacecraft and monitors the beginning of the multi-pronged invasion of the Kree empire with his Admiral, Ka'ardum. Ka'ardum tells Vulcan that one of the commanders of the Shi'ar ships is requesting permission to use a Nega-Bomb. Basically, a Nega-Bomb is a doomsday weapon capable of destroying an entire planet. Vulcan ponders the request for a second, before cheerfully giving the order to use "lots" of Nega-Bombs! Holy f###ing s###!!!
Back at the wedding, the Imperial Guard, with the element of surprise on their side, manages to inflict several early casualties before the Inhumans can even respond. The Inhuman response is strong, but the force of the Imperial Guard is too much, and they continue to run roughshod over the Inhumans and the Kree. Finally, Black Bolt(by far the most powerful member of the Inhumans)attacks Gladiator(one of the most powerful characters in Marvel Comics, period). However, Gladiator, ever the shrewd general, expected Black Bolt's attack and had a Imperial Guard member nearby with the specific ability to cancel out sonics, which is where Black Bolt draws his power from. With his power decreased dramatically, Gladiator wipes the floor with Black Bolt, which throws the Inhumans into a panic.
With Black Bolt down, the Imperial Guard turns up the heat, and continue to increase the body count on the Inhuman/Kree side. Lilandra, who was a guest at the wedding winds up getting captured and teleported away by the Shi'ar. Gladiator and the Imperial Guard continue the carnage until Gladiator decides that the Shi'ar had made their point. With that, the Imperial Guard teleports off world, leaving death and destruction in their wake. The Kree and Inhumans begin to tend to the wounded and dead, while a visually battered Black Bolt stands behind his enraged wife, Medusa, who screams to the heavens that the Shi'ar had made a mortal error, one that will be paid for in blood.
Wow, wow, wow!!! This comic book was everything I was hoping for and more! Several points first. I'm a huge fan of Vulcan. I've loved his characterization from his initial appearance and I've enjoyed the growth of his character and his decent into utter madness. On a side note, I LOVE Vulcan's crazy, Caesar inspired look and outfit! His look fits his character perfectly. When Vulcan gave the order to use "lots" of Nega-Bombs, my mouth nearly hit the floor. During Operation: Galactic Storm several years ago, one single Nega-Bomb was responsible for killing BILLIONS of Kree and decimating their society for years. The fact that Vulcan is advocating the usage of not just one Nega-Bomb, but "lots" of Nega-Bombs is a strikingly horrifying prospect, which shows not only Vulcan's insanity, but his total disregard for all forms of life.
I don't have one single bad word for this comic book. It was perfect. I've always loved a good cosmic story, and this, the opening salvo of War of Kings was nothing short of spectacular. And this is just the beginning! We still have Nova, The Guardians of the Galaxy, Adam Warlock and the Universal Church, Blastaar and the Negative Zone, as well as Darkhawk yet to even appear! Once again, and I know I say it alot, Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning have done an awesome job with this comic book. I can't f###ing wait for the next issue!
After reading this comic book, I now officially consider Dan and Andy to be in the same league as Ed Brubaker and Geoff Johns, the two best writers in comics today. This comic rocked my world, threw me on the floor and left me begging for more! I want to keep going, but if I don't stop now, I might just keep typing for the next hour or so. I have that many great things to say about this comic. For a score, this comic gets a goddamn 11 out of 10! For a lifelong Marvel Comic book fanatic, who grew up reading about the Shi'ar in Uncanny X-Men and the Kree in Avengers this was euphoric experience. After reading this issue, I can confidently state that War of Kings is going to finally give us a Marvel event that lives up to expectations. One last thing before I cut out, the cover price for this comic is a rather daunting $3.99. Although the cover price is a bit high, this comic was WELL worth it! Any comic book fan owes it to themselves to at least give this comic a shot... It really was that frigging great.