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The Purple-Skinned Cavalry

February 20, 2010

     With the ships from the other side of the Fault chasing after them, the Imperial Guard in their series, Realm of Kings: Imperial Guard, couldn’t be worse off.  During a religious holiday, as Gladiator oversees the proceedings, he is contacted through the M’Kraan Crystal by Oracle, who tries to warn him of what’s going on.  Gladiator wants to go and help, but Chancellor Araki advises him not to.  Mentor had Oracle and Quasar work together to contact Gladiator while everyone else set up mines and build defensive fortifications from the space wreckage.  Fang, Neutron, Flashfire, and Starbolt enjoy some psi-wine (Warstar’s there too, but he’s kind of a robot), but in the process, they accidentally alert one of the ships.  Plutonia tries to confess her love to Mentor, but Mentor brushes him off.  Ch’od says that the ship has been sabotaged, and Mentor realizes that the culprit is the new Smasher.  The new Smasher is revealed to be Talon in disguise, having recovered some amulets to induct new members into the Fraternity of Raptors.  The enemy attacks, releasing cancerverse versions of the X-Men.  Starbolt is killed, and Talon tries to convice Mentor to return the amulets so he can induct new members to help the Imperial Guard.  And just then… Gladiator shows up.

     Well, this issue was really quite exciting.  Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning continue to give the various members of the Guard more personality, partially by giving them origins (Fang was grown from a gene-vat, Neutron’s family hates him for siding with Vulcan, etc.).  I particularly like the Plutonia bit, especially when you consider how much of an asshole Mentor is.  Then again, as many people say, you can’t pick the one you love.  The enigmatic Talon is also great, as he’s clearly got the best interests of the Shi’ar in mind; he just has very interesting and… pragmatic ways of caring about them.  And naturally, everyone can’t help but be excited to see Gladiator come in and kick some ass.  After all, he’s the best character of the bunch.  Kevin Walker’s art is also a tad cleaner in this issue on the whole, minus the drawings of the cancerverse X-Men (which I think weren’t supposed to be “clean” anyway).  Everything is really coming together in Realm of Kings, and with the knowledge that the next major cosmic story is going to be about Thanos, I’m more excited than I ever have been about this corner of the Marvel Universe.  The fact that I was actually a bit sad when Starbolt died is a testiment to Abnett and Lanning’s skill as the best writing duo in comic books today.

Plot: 8.9      Art: 8.7      Dialogue: 9.2      Overall: 8.8

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