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Comic Book / War of Kings

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"The king with no words has screamed in defiance, and his cry has split the universe in half. It's starting... The war that ends everything."
Starhawk, Guardians of the Galaxy #10

War of Kings is a Marvel Comics Bat Family Crossover of the year 2009. It follows events of the Secret Invasion: Inhumans, X-Men: Rise and Fall of the Shi'ar Empire and X-Men: Emperor Vulcan storylines, and plot elements in various other titles, like Nova, Guardians of the Galaxy and Annihilation: Conquest. Darkhawk gets involved as well.

After their home on the Moon was attacked by Skrulls during the Secret Invasion (2008) event, The Inhumans chose to leave for space, where they not only had revenge on the green shapeshifters, but also attacked their own creators — the Kree Empire. With the Kree's defeat, the Kree leader, Ronan, gives up his position, announcing Black Bolt as the new king of the Empire. This doesn't escape the sight of another cosmic monarch — Vulcan, Emperor of the Shi'ar, who quickly finds an excuse to start a war between the two space nations. So big a conflict cannot avoid involving third parties; the Guardians of the Galaxy, the Nova Corps and Blaastar's army from the Negative Zone are all brought into the conflict.

Following this event, Marvel put out a series of comics under the title Realm of Kings, which served as a bridge to their next event, The Thanos Imperative.

War of Kings provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: Darkhawk's miniseries had a bit with the Fraternity planting some programming in a dormant Annihilus's brain, to be cashed in on later. Since the Fraternity plot fell by the wayside after 2010, this hasn't come up since.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: The Fraternity of Raptors, for the Shi'ar. They long ago went dormant. Black Bolt destroying the Skrull fleet reactivates them.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Gorgon loses a leg to the Shi'ar Imperial Guard, but it's quickly re-attached. Ch'od loses a hand to a Portal Cut, but gets a new one pretty quickly.
  • Anyone Can Die: Lilandra, Black Bolt, Vulcan, a whole Nova cohort and a good chunk of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Black Bolt and Vulcan get better, and the Guardians turn out okay in the end.
  • Arc Words: "I serve at the pleasure of Emperor Vulcan."
  • Arranged Marriage: Crystal and Ronan. Gradually (through this and the Realm of Kings follow-up event) evolves into a Perfectly Arranged Marriage.
  • Assimilation Plot: Black Bolt plans to turn all living beings in the Universe into Inhumans. Eventually Crystal talks him out of it.
  • Badass Normal: Star-Lord.
  • Bad Future: This event caused at least one. Adam Warlock's attempts to fix the Fault cause him to become the Magus, which starts overriding every other possible future as well.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Part of Nova's problems in the war is his little brother Robert has been drafted as a Nova and taken part in an intergalactic war, when the guiding intelligence of the Nova Corps has gone utterly bugnuts.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Vulcan and Black Bolt battle with Black Bolt coming out victorious. Crystal disables the T-Bomb from its original intent and seems to convince Black Bolt the plan was flawed. But before she, Lockjaw and Black Bolt can escape Vulcan revives and Black Bolt is forced to stay to battle him. During the fight the bomb is set off by Black Bolt's voice, leaving both kings lost and a gaping hole in the fabric of the universe which is a tunnel to something... bad. Not to mention the Fraternity of Raptors still lurking in the shadows.
  • Boobs-and-Butt Pose: Lilandra has a rather awkward one in the final page of issue #2.
  • Bruiser with a Soft Center: Ronan the Accuser. Cold, heartless Judge, Jury, and Executioner of the Kree Empire. Also secretly a big soft-hearted romantic who brings flowers for the gal he's getting married to.
  • The Bus Came Back: The Shi'ar Death Commandoes, last seen in 2006, reappear towards the end, defending the ludicrously corrupt Chancellor Araki.
  • Butt-Monkey: Smasher. First, Vulcan is understandably confused to see him, since he killed the previous Smasher back in Rise and Fall of the Shi'ar Empire. Then he's punched out by Drax. And then Gladiator perforates his head to show he's turned sides.
  • Cain and Abel: Vulcan and Havok. Sort-of inverted as the good Havok is older.
  • The Caligula: Vulcan. Man, he even resembles Caligula physically.
  • Calling Your Attacks: Parodied.
    Smasher: Accessing hyper-strength upload from my exospecs.
    [Drax punches Smasher in the face.]
    Drax: Accessing fist.
  • Cassandra Truth: Peter Quill tries to warn the Inhumans about the damage the war is causing the universe. Medusa tells him to get lost. Out of the entire royal family, only Crystal listens to the Guardians, and that's after Phyla holds her at sword-point.
  • Catchphrase: "I AM GROOT!"
  • Category Traitor: The head Nova Centurion at the beginning of the war is a Shi'ar. Needless to say, for a culture who believe in unquestioning obedience to their emperor no matter how obviously underpants-on-head-mad they are, this is a problem. For him.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The Skrull captain, first introduced in the prologue one-shot and apparently killed, becomes important in Darkhawk's tie-in series.
  • Clear My Name: Subverted. Darkhawk is first going to stop his new Arch-Enemy, then clear his name.
  • Cosmic Being: At last, one (Oblivion) has a short appearance.
  • Deal with the Devil: Actually, with Death.
  • Decapitation Strike: What the Shi'ar try to do by interrupting Ronan and Crystal's wedding. It doesn't work, which Vulcan is a little tetchy about.
  • Discard and Draw: Nova. Also, Phyla-Vell, who gives up the title of Quasar to become the new Avatar of Death.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Strontian is to Gladiator what Supergirl is to Superman, only she's completely insane. Phyla is one for Thanos.
  • Don't Create a Martyr: General Ka'radum warns Vulcan against killing Lilandra because of this. It's enough to stay his hand. But it doesn't stay the Fraternity.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: While observing a hospitalized Ronan, who was injured in the Shi'ar attack on Hala, Polaris quips to his wife Crystal, "That'll teach him to marry you.". Crystal is understandably unamused.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: The Shi'Ar steal some Kree Nega Bombs, which cause these. This is bad, and not just because it's wrecking entire planets. It's also cracking open Negative Space Wedgies a'plenty.
  • Enemy Mine: Gorgon and Starbolt on Saakar.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Keep in mind while reading this one that the speaker is so crazy he genuinely believes what he's saying.
    Vulcan to Black Bolt: You act so noble, but you're a genocidal monster! And I am not going to let you do this!
  • Eviler than Thou: Even Vulcan found Black Bolt's Assimilation Plot insane. Yes, Vulcan.
  • Evil Versus Evil: Not that he realizes it (and probably wouldn't have cared), but Vulcan versus the Magus.
  • Eye Scream: Vulcan had already lost one of his eyes to Gladiator a few years before, but it was replaced with an artificial eye. During their final fight, Black Bolt destroys it.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Adam Warlock, though not willingly on his part. Phyla, a little
  • Flying Brick: Black Bolt, Gladiator, Strontian, Nova, Vulcan. Most of them have other powers as well, but still.
  • Foil:
    • Take a good look at Black Bolt and Vulcan. Black Bolt and Vulcan. Black Bolt and Vulcan. Black Bolt and Vulcan. Got it?
    • A subtle theme that Vulcan eventually makes explicit is that the war is making Black Bolt much less of a Foil to Vulcan.
  • From a Single Cell: Vulcan is killed by a point-blank blast of Black Bolt's voice. A few pages later he gets up again.
  • From Bad to Worse: Things were already bad after the Annihilation War and the Phalanx Conquest. Then the Shi'ar and the Kree, the last two big empires left, go to war, endangering reality itself, which is on the brink of collapse. And then Lilandra is killed, throwing the Shi'ar empire into turmoil. And then, in the last issue, Black Bolt causes the T-bomb to go off, opening the Fault and quickly causing the creation of the Magus, who is the herald for a far worse threat.
  • Fusion Dance: Richard and Wendell. Also Worldmind and Ego.
  • Galactic Conqueror: Vulcan. Blastaar also fits, but he's not got as much resources or skill as Vulcan.
  • Gambit Roulette: Drax and Phylla's adventure and all its results were planned by Oblivion
  • Giant Mecha: The Inhuman Chorus Sentries, which are equipped with and powered by Black Bolt's voice. They're very effective.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Aside from a massive blood spurt, what Gladiator does to Araki isn't shown.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: At least some of the plot is Oblivion's doing, according to Guardians of the Galaxy, but the specifics, and what he hoped to get out of it (beyond "kill everyone everywhere") are unclear.
  • Grand Theft Me: What the Fraternity Of Raptors does with their hosts. Humans are slightly immune because their methods are designed for older species.
  • Happily Arranged Marriage: Crystal and Ronan eventually become this, although Ronan already had a soft spot for Crystal in the first place.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • The Skrull possessed by Talon killed himself in order to get rid of him. Sadly, it doesn't stop him from coming back.
    • Black Bolt's original intention for the T-bomb may be interpreted as one of these.
  • Hope Spot:
    • Lilandra returns to the Shi'ar and vows to overthrow Vulcan, gaining a large amount of support from her people! Then Talon and Raptor kill her.
    • Crystal talks Black Bolt down from detonating the T-Bomb. Then Vulcan gets back up again, and attacks Black Bolt, forcing him to kill them both.
  • How Do I Shot Web?: Part of Darkhawk's miniseries is Talon showing him how to properly work his armor. Except not, he's actually trying to kick Kyle out and get his brother Raptor back so they can get on with their plan.
  • Human Aliens: The Shi'Ar look like humans with weird hair; the Kree, and Strontians (Gladiator's species), look like humans but with different skin color. Phyla, Smasher, a few other members of the Imperial Guard and at least one Nova Corps member look like humans, or have very small differences.
  • Hypocrite: Medusa is perfectly fine with setting off a T-bomb to turn everyone into an Inhuman despite protests from Crystal and Ronan that such an action is too extreme and could also leave the Kree, who are incompatible with the Terrigen Mists, as an evolutionary dead end. However, it never occurs to her that Black Bolt will have to sacrifice himself in order for this plan to work and when she realizes this, she is furious.
  • I Let Gwen Stacy Die: Lilandra is the Gwen Stacy for many characters. Suki is also one for Robbie Rider.
  • Jerkass: Medusa spends most of her time being snide, sarcastic and demeaning towards everyone else. She also shows some signs of jealousy when Crystal is more liked by the common Kree.
  • Know When to Fold Them: When the Inhumans invade Kree space, Ronan immediately capitulates to them.
  • Kryptonite Is Everywhere: Subverted. The Guardians never had a weapon able to harm Gladiator, they only made him think they did. Gladiator's powers are directly related to his confidence. If he believes you can beat him, you can.
  • Large Ham: Vulcan, Blaastar, Groot and of course the largest of them all - Catastropus.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Shi'Ar Chancellor Araki, who helped Vulcan seize the throne and ousted Lilandra, as well being The Man Behind the Man for the Shi'Ar death squad, is finally killed by Gladiator.
  • Mad Scientist: Maximus the Mad, quite naturally, though this time he's behaving himself. The Inhumans make good use of his inventions in the war. At one point he gets frustrated because they're asking him to do too much.
  • Magitek: The Fraternity of Raptors have powered armor... fueled by dark magic.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Oblivion and Maelstrom
  • Mêlée à Trois: Kree Empire vs Shiar Empire with the Nova Corps, Star Jammers and Guardians of the Galaxy caught in the middle trying to stop it but usually just getting into fights.
  • Misplaced Retribution: Issue #2 shows protesters blaming the Shi'ar attack on the Kree planets on the Inhumans rather than the Shi'ar themselves.
  • My Master, Right or Wrong: Gladiator has always had this mindset, being loyal to the Shi'ar throne, not whoever's sitting on it or how utterly insane they might be. It's here that he finally reaches breaking point and decides there are some things with which he will not put up with.
  • Mythology Gag: Black Bolt's plan to transform people into Inhumans is the same one he used on a smaller scale in Earth X and would later be used again in Infinity.
  • Negative Space Wedgie: Several of these already existed due to the events of Annihilation, and the war is making them worse. It's part of the reason the Guardians of the Galaxy get involved. The very end of the event causes a truly massive one, the Fault, which spreads over several light-years.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • The Inhuman attack on the Skrulls frees Talon from his interdimensional prison, which eventually causes the death of Lilandra.
    • The detonation of the T-bomb breaks the universe, and is retroactively responsible for the return of the Magus.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Talon does manage to screw Christopher over royally, but before he does that he did manage to teach him a few fancy applications of the Darkhawk armor he had no idea about, so when Chris gets control back, he's got a few levels in badass.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: The Guardians' roster.
  • Noodle Incident: Rocket Raccoon and Corsair of the Starjammers once did some freebooting, back in "the day". Rocket's only comment is that the boots were freer back then.
  • No-Sell: Vulcan's an Omega level Mutant who can and has incinerated all sorts with his powers with ease. Talon shrugs off one of his blasts like the guy was throwing a paper ball at his head.
  • Only Sane Man: Crystal, for the entire Inhuman royal family, with Gorgon a distant second.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Black Bolt and Vulcan.
  • Portal Cut: This is how Ch'od loses his right hand. He tries to grab Lilandra as she is taken through one of Voyager's portals but it closes around his arm.
  • Psycho for Hire: Strontian is a pyscho with all the powers of Superman.
  • Puppet King: The Raptors try making Vulcan one of these, only to quickly realize he's too bug-nuts insane to even nudge in the right direction, so they decide on plan B: Burn the current Shi'ar empire to the ground, and try to rebuild afterward.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: The Inhumans win... technically. But they've blown reality a new space-hole and lost their king in the process. And while they don't know it, it's also allowed the Magus to rise. Medusa aptly sums it up while struggling not to cry. They've "won".
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Moody, bad-tempered Darkhawk and the perpetually cool and nonchalant Talon. Fittingly, Darkhawk's armor is red, Talon's is blue.
  • Redshirt Army: The revived Nova Corps get slaughtered en-masse by Shi'Ar forces. Needless to say, this gets Nova angry. The fact they are by and large an army of conscripts dragged into a war with no training doesn't help at all.
  • Remember When You Blew Up a Sun?: Richard Rider manages to get Blastaar to stand down by whispering to him if he remembers what Rich did to the last guy from the Negative Zone he tussled with (namely, ripped his insides out via his mouth). Blastaar decides he'd like to keep his insides in, and surrenders.
  • Retcon: The origin of the amulet that gives Darkhawk his powers (along with parts of his history). Turns out all the stuff about alien gangsters was just him trying to parse it and not handling it.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Gladiator, after Lilandra is killed, goes after her former chancellor, the man who arranged for her removal from power.
  • Running Gag: Horrible things happening to Smasher of the Shi'ar Imperial Guard.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Blaastar. Vulcan did it a long time ago.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Starhawk's mission. The Guardians who'd got transported to a Bad Future were trying to do this by sending a message into the past, but it didn't work.
  • Space Police: The Nova Corps would like to be this. Unfortunately, no-one's really respecting their authority.
  • Space Romans: Vulcan wears a Roman-style outfit, and it seems like he was trying to incorporate some elements of Roman culture into the Shi'Ar.
  • Spotting the Thread: During the fight with the Starjammers and the Guardians, Gladiator is incapacited by Rocket Raccoon using a Xarthian Quantum Cannon, which supposedly shreds atoms. However, as he recounts what it's doing to him, Gladiator stops as he remembers something: Xarthians don't have quantum tech. Someone's playing with his head.
  • The Starscream: Catastrophus was supposed to be a mid-level flunky for Annihilus while he regrew. Catastrophus had other ideas, and used the Cosmic Control Rod to keep Annihilus stuck as an embryo. The Fraternity of Raptors had other ideas.
  • Superpowered Evil Side: Magus for Adam Warlock.
  • Theme Naming: The Fraternity all have names related to birds (Talon, Gyre, etc.).
  • This Means War!:
    • What got everything started. The Inhumans reached the status of Officially Fed Up With Everyone's Crap after Secret Invasion, left Earth, set course for Hala and took over the entire Kree Empire. In doing so, they obliterated the remnants of the Skrull fleet... and accidentally caught a few Shi'ar ships in the process. This, Vulcan felt, was grounds for declaring war.
    • Vulcan's attack on Ronan and Crystal's wedding prompts the Inhumans to declare war on him for it.
  • Title Drop: Issue #5 is called "Rage and Blood and Fire". Lorna references the title in her dialogue when Alex tells her the Awful Truth that Vulcan might be the only that can quell the riot on Chandilar.
    Lorna: Then this is the way the world ends. In rage and blood and fire.
  • Token Evil Teammate: Phyla Martyr, for the Guardians of the Galaxy. It gets them into trouble when she holds Crystal hostage.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Darkhawk goes from C-List member of the New Warriors to, if he was motivated, strong enough to throw down with the cosmic bad boys and win.
  • Vengeance Feels Empty: Rachel finally gets a chance to pay Blackcloack back for killing her family, but doesn't feel it's worth it by now.
  • The Voiceless: Black Bolt, of course. Throughout the whole event he only utters two words: "Now" and "Goodbye" He yells NO! to attack Vulcan.
  • Wham Episode: Lilandra dies. Gladiator becomes Majestor of the Shi'ar.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Many characters did this in response to Black Bolt's plan.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Worldmind went mad because he was blocking the Nova Force from driving Richard crazy too much.
  • Your Head A-Splode: Rachel Grey makes Blackcloak's head explode, in revenge for killing her family years before.
  • You Kill It, You Bought It: Gladiator wipes out the last vesitges of the Shi'ar royal court, and with every other member of the royal family dead or missing, he becomes the new Praetor.