With Malekith’s eyes set firmly on Midgard as his final conquest, Marvel’s War of the Realms is shaping up to be a realm-shattering event encompassing the entire Marvel Universe. The creative team of writer Jason Aaron, artist Russell Dauterman, and colorist Matt Wilson — formerly of The Mighty Thor — are back together for this new series pitting Thor and his fellow heroes against the forces of Svartelfheim, Jotunheim, Alfheim, Muspelheim, and beyond. The War of the Realms Prelude is a collection of relevant stories dating back to 1966, collecting as much relevant info as readers will need to truly get into what is shaping up to be a tremendous and impactful series.
While many details of the upcoming event are understandably being held close to Marvel’s vest, the Prelude helps suss out a few folks who may make a significant impact, as well as bringing to new readers some of the older Thor stories they may have missed. As I have noted in past reviews, reading Thor from decades past may be jarring for new readers not used to the Shakespearian amount of exposition thrust into each panel, but Walter Simonson’s story from Thor #344 gives us the debut of Malekith and his iconic two-toned ensemble.
The remainder of the collection is comprised of stories written by Jason Aaron from Thor: God of Thunder, and The Mighty Thor. Aaron takes us deeper into the origins of Malekith and his unending rage against the wars that killed his brothers and caused his mother to sell him into bondage, an act he repaid in vicious fashion. Aaron continues exploring Malekith’s history with the realms and his own people, showing the brutality with which he attacks both them and the people of the other realms. After being elected King of Svartelfheim and Thor’s ally Waziria taking his place in the Pit of Woe, the dark elf and his frost giant allies begin to assemble their forces in preparation for battle with the League of Realms.
The Mighty Thor #1 not only brings us Jean Foster’s Thor as the lead character, but the first appearance of the words “War of the Realms,” carved onto the space-borne body of a light elf. With the surprise entrance of Roxxon’s Dario Agger to Malekith’s anti-league, many of the elements taking center stage in War of the Realms come together fairly early in the story. The Mighty Thor #13 gives us our clearest look at The League of Realms, currently staffed by mostly women from the realms, including Roz Solomon of S.H.I.E.L.D. It also brings us a new version of Kurse, Malekith’s vicious soldier, now having taken over the body of Waziria to mirror Foster’s Thor, much as Algrim the Strong, now chained in Malekith’s place in the Pit of Woe, mirrored Thor Odinson himself.
Side note: these Mighty Thor issues remind me just how phenomenal this creative team is. Wilson’s colors leap off the page and Dauterman’s layouts are transformative. Bringing War Thor into Muspelheim lets them both play with an amazing palette of colors and characters, including the Queen of the realm, Sindr and the beautiful use of negative space during the visions had by Karnilla in the Nornkeep.
The final included issue, Mighty Thor: At the Gates of Valhalla #1, brings us Thor Odinson’s granddaughters on a quest to see Thor at his best throughout time, meeting Throg and finally Jane Foster herself. The final lines spoken by the trio leads us, at the end of Jane Foster’s time as Thor, to learn that she still has a mighty role to play in the coming War. The stage is thereby set for a battle for the lives and souls of the realms themselves between Malekith and his forces bent on destruction and the heroes who will stand in their way. Midgard is the scene of the final battle and everyone able to wield a hammer must stand for righteousness and fight. With Aaron, Dauterman, and Wilson at the helm, this is shaping up to be the most anticipated event in years.