War of Kings Review – “War of Kings: Ascension”

I plan to have the “War of Kings” reviews caught up, or possibly even done by the end of the long weekend.

General Information

Title: War of Kings: Ascension

Authors: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning

Illustrator(s): Wellington Alves (pencils), Scott Hanna and Nelson Pereira (inks), Guru eFX (colours)

Cover Dates: June – September 2009

Cover Price: $3.99 US per issue


At the end of War of Kings: Darkhawk, Chris Powell had learned that his armour is one of many, and that it wasn’t built for his human physiology. His fellow Raptor, Talon, invited him into space so he could learn to use the armor and hear the datasong. In this series, he learns about the purpose of the armor and the fraternity of Raptors, and it’s not even remotely what he (or I, as the reader) expected to learn.

High Point

Talon: “You’ve finally bonded, Christopher. Full compatibility has been achieved. You are fully connected to the null source, and all the secrets are open to you.”
Chris Powell / Darkhawk: “What the @@@@ are you…? Oh my God. I’m seeing visions of kidnappings… assassinations… We’re — we’re the bad guys?”

Low Point

Talon’s part of the last couple of issues take place largely in the main series. Reading these in isolation, he seems to be giving up very quickly. Reading the complete event in publication order reveals the necessary details, but it doesn’t work as well reading just these four issues. Note that this won’t be a problem if you get November’s collected hardcover, including “WAR OF KINGS #1-6, WAR OF KINGS: ASCENSION #1-4, WAR OF KINGS: DARKHAWK #1-2, WAR OF KINGS: WARRIORS, WAR OF KINGS: WHO WILL RULE?, WAR OF KINGS: SAVAGE WORLD OF SAKAAR and MARVEL SPOTLIGHT: WAR OF KINGS” according to the solicitation.

The Scores

This is an original take on superheroes, kicking in particularly with the revelation listed in the High Point. I give it 5 out of 6.

The artwork is great, and a big improvement over the War of Kings: Darkhawk two part story. It’s clear, it’s fluid, and the colors and poses make the two characters in virtually identical armor easy to distinguish. I give it 5 out of 6.

The story is well paced and well told. Apart from the one comment chosen as the low point, it can stand on its own and make sense for Darkhawk fans. Even that one comment isn’t hard to follow, it’s just presented without evidence. Nobody will be confused by it, but it could read better. I give it 5 out of 6.

The characterization is all in the context of two primary characters. We see Talon, who hides his true self for much of the time, and Chris, who is forced to run the gamut of emotions given what’s going on with him. We get to see a lot of Chris, and he’s left in a place that makes me look forward to his next appearance. I give it 5 out of 6.

The emotional response is great. The sucker punch chosen as the High Point is one of the biggest surprises I’ve seen in comics this year. I almost kept things deliberately vague in that High Point, but it happens fairly early on, and it has such a big impact that I figured the full reveal is really the only way to show people what they’re in for when they read this. I give it 6 out of 6.

The flow is surprisingly good. The artwork is fluid enough to keep the reader moving from panel to panel, but they’ve also managed to carefully control what’s important here with what’s important to the main event, allowing this to be sensibly read as its own entity or as part of the big picture. For the most part, nothing seems missing. The reader knows there’s a bigger war going on, but these events aren’t about that. That’s hard to manage in a tie-in miniseries. I give it 6 out of 6.

Overall, it’s a much stronger miniseries than the two parter that set it up. I give it 5 out of 6.

In total, War of Kings: Ascension receives 37 out of 42.

War of Kings Checklist