This issue wasn’t on any of the early checklists. I think I now know why.
Title: War of Kings: The Savage World of Skaar
Author: Christos N. Gage
Illustrator(s): Graham Nolan and Reilly Brown (pencils), Nelson DeCastro (inks) and Sotocolor’s A. Street (colours)
Cover Date: August, 2009
Cover Price: $3.99 US
Starbolt (of the Imperial Guard) and Gorgon (of the Inhumans) find themselves trapped on the hostile world of Sakaar, where they must depend on each other for survival. Or, to put it another way, “Darmok and Jilad at Tanagra.”
Starbolt restrains himself when dealing with one of his officers. Sadly, this occurs in panel two of page one, and it’s all downhill from there.
“I recognize the races the invaders belong to. Kree and Shi’Ar — interstellar conquerors.” Sorry, Old Sam, but you’re wrong on at least one count. (Gorgon’s not Kree, and even if Starbolt was originally Shi’Ar, he’s not recognizable as such in his present form.) They represent those races, but don’t belong to them. Either Old Sam is getting his knowledge from elsewhere, or this is a major gaffe. (Perhaps he is; I dropped the “Skaar, Son of Hulk” title after issue 3.)
This is not original. I guessed the basic plot from the cover, felt more secure in that guess when the story’s title (“The Enemy of My Enemy”) was revealed, and actually came out bang on in my prediction, right to the roles played by Skaar, Luna and Lockjaw, as well as the final status quo. If that much can be predicted from a cover that doesn’t even include Luna or Lockjaw, it’s far too predictable. I give it 1 out of 6.
The artwork is the best part of the issue. It’s not spectacular, but it’s clean and clear, showing the emotions well. I give it 4 out of 6.
The story was executed in a rather “by the book” fashion. It’s the standard trope where two enemies are forced to work together to survive in the face of a greater threat. The fact that it wasn’t on early checklists, and also includes Skaar’s only anticipated appearance in the entire crossover, made me assume that no status quo changes would occur. Of course, they would need to happen if the “team up” aspect is successful, so I figured they’d be reset. Enter Luna and Lockjaw exactly on cue. Decent execution, but far, far too predictable. I give it 3 out of 6.
The characterization of Starbolt and Lockjaw works very well. The “surprise” of the Inhumans when encountering the Old Power makes no sense; they’d have picked up on that when it was used during “World War Hulk!” Gorgon’s lack of tactics at the beginning is also out of character, and seems to exist only to get him into this mess in the first place. I give it 4 out of 6.
The emotional response is about as bland as it gets. For the first time in a long time, I had to flip through the comic being reviewed, not to choose a particular High Point, but to find a moment that would even qualify as one. So much of this can be predicted so early on that there’s no suspense or excitement when it unfolds exactly as expected. I give it 1 out of 6.
The flow works well enough, when viewed solely from the standpoint of the art. When looking at it from a continuity and “information available to characters” sense, the Inhuman reaction to the Old Power and the Low Point are such seemingly blatant continuity gaffes that they throw me out of the story each time. I give it 3 out of 6.
Overall, it’s pretty bland, and easy to skip. It reads as though it was conceived by marketing as a way to draw more attention to Skaar’s title by adding it to a crossover. If that’s the case, perhaps Skaar should have been on more than eight of these thirty pages. At the very least, fewer of his pages should have included large splash panels showing him off. I give it 2 out of 6.
In total, War of Kings: The Savage World of Skaar receives 18 out of 42.