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New Responsibilities

January 10, 2010

     Realm of Kings is in full swing, and to supplement the two ongoing series, Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning have added two miniseries, one of which is Realm of Kings: Imperial Guard.  This focuses on the Shi’ar side, with the Imperial Guard and the new Majestor, Gladiator.  The shipbuilding planet of Izumbard secedes from the Shi’ar Empire due to exhaustion, and in order to keep the peace, Gladiator sends in the Imperial Guard.  Mentor is the new praetor of the Guard, though Gladiator goes into the field himself because he can’t help but feel that he has do assist.  Talon reveals that he has the real Chancellor Araki in stasis and constantly switches places with her for unseen reasons.  Back at Chandilar, the Guard start fighting over Gladiator being Majestor, and all the people involved in the fight are forced to go with the Starjammers to assess the threat of the Fault.  Gladiator tells off Gorgon in a rather cool way, and the Starjammers (which now consist only of Ch’od and Raza Longknife) and the Guard brave the Fault.  They are forced to run the ship on silent to avoid energy parasites, and Raza remembers his time under the ciontrol of a symbiote.  They discover a massive organic space-ship, and upon inspecting it, realize that the crew is dead, and that the ship is preparing to devour itself, and the Guard along with it.

     I’m not reading Nova right now, but from what I am reading, this is the weakest link in Realm of Kings.  Why?  Because the Imperial Guard on the whole have never really been fleshed out as characters.  Aside from Gladiator, who is now Majestor, and the coldly irascible Mentor, there’s very little reason why we should care about any of them (and Mentor isn’t that likable anyway).  However, since Gladiator is the true focus of the story, it’s not a total loss.  Abnett and Lanning did wonders with him in War of Kings, and all their superb characterization is paying off as he stands front and center as one of the biggest faces of the cosmic side of the Marvel Universe.  Abnett and Lanning are trying to get us into the minds of a few of the members of the team, like Neutron, Fang, and Manta, but since any of them can easily die and get replaced by members of their same race, it’s hard to really get emotionally invested in them.  Kevin Walker’s art is interestingly gritty yet effective for a cosmic book, although still not close to the quality of people like Paul Pelletier.  At least he has no glaring anatomical or facial weaknesses in his work.  I’m definitely going to read this whole series, but I’m just not enjoying it as much as Guardians of the Galaxy or Realm of Kings: Inhumans.  Maybe, by the end, Abnett and Lanning will have changed my mind. 

Plot: 7.7      Art: 8.6      Dialogue: 9.0      Overall: 7.7

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