War of the Realms was a wild ride with over 55 tie-in comics to flesh out the journey of every major hero. That included Spider-Man of course, and in his adventure, he teams up with some of the greatest heroes of the realms. Naturally, they need a name, so they are dubbed the League of Realms! Has a nice fantasy ring to it, eh?
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
In order to win the War of the Realms, we need a LEAGUE OF REALMS! Thor once led this team with one representative from each fantastical realm, but the League has a NEW leader and representative of Midgard- SPIDER-MAN! Spider-Man must Frodo-up and lead this ragtag group of SCREWBEARD THE DWARF, UD THE TROLL, RO BLOODROOT THE WIZARD, SIR IVORY HONEYSHOT THE LIGHT ELF and TITANYA THE MOUNTAIN GIANT! But who will represent ASGARD?! And gifted the sight of the Bifrost, Daredevil watches all Midgard burn under Malekith’s invasion. How will the Guardian of Hell’s Kitchen guard an entire Earth turned to Hell?
Why does this matter?
Outside of Spider-Man being one of the most important characters at Marvel and seeing his adventure in the event, we also get a healthy dose of Daredevil. This trade paperback contains Daredevil’s adventures which have been pulled from the anthology tie-in War of the Realms: War Scrolls.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This story starts off with a good comedic pace, opening with Spider-Man driving his crew into battle as the narrative effectively flashes back as to how he got here. We then get some crazy war battling, a touching bit of Spider-Man endearment, and a cliffhanger that builds to the second issue. Most importantly, writer Sean Ryan brings the iconic Spider-Man humor in full force. A running gag early on is how each one of these Asgardians has an insane name that’s either hard to pronounce or so long you might as well not bother. This looks and sounds like Spider-Man and given the very unique position he’s in, that’s very welcome.
Ryan does a good job with introducing an angel character named Fernande. She’s in an unenviable place but is part of a war culture where soldiers do as they are told. In a quick flashback, and then later in a scene where she connects with a hero, we learn who she is deep down. In an early flashback, we learn why Thor picked Spidey to be the leader of this crew — Spider-Man might be a goof, but he has a heart and loads of empathy. The story is effective in its fantasy leanings and keeps your interest up.
Nico Leon draws this three-issue tie-in with Carlos Lopez on colors and Joe Caramagna on letters. Leon draws a lanky and tiny Spider-Man that helps set him apart from the giant Asgardians. The eye expressions work well too, including intense staredowns and moments of seriousness. The Asgardians joining Spider-Man are all eclectic and well designed. The Thor flashback is quite nice with a cooler color tone to help add weight to Thor’s compliments and remind us it took place at an earlier time.
The last quarter of the book is devoted to Daredevil’s role in the War of the Realms, written by Jason Aaron with art by Andrea Sorrentino. Anyone super into this event can’t miss this “The God Without Fear” story which follows Daredevil, tying into his faith very well. How does a man who believes in God casually hang out with Thor, the God of Thunder? Find out here. There are also key details revealed about Kingpin as well as a taste of what Daredevil is up to in this event.
Sorrentino dazzles as always. He uses plenty of layout design choices to tell a visually arresting story. At one point Sorrentino uses the classic comic book printed dots look in a key flashback that helps separate it from the present very well. There’s also a fantastic cutaway to the internal organs of a Frost Giant that helps the reader understand how Daredevil sees this beast.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
The Spider-Man story fizzles out, running into some tired fantasy tropes and not really mattering in the grand scheme of things. Spidey is helping in his own corner, but it’s apparent the weight of the story is lost on the quick three issues it was given. That means convenient elements like the Dark Elves waiting for the heroes to be ready to battle and other rushed elements.
Is it good?
This is an interesting one-two punch of comic book storytelling. On the one hand, you have comedic and fast-paced Spidey storytelling mixed with Daredevil’s inner struggle of being Catholic who becomes a god. Ultimately this collection is an example of how tie-ins can expand on character while also telling side stories that can still be fulfilling, even if they aren’t totally necessary.