For just about the past six years, in the pages of his various THOR titles, writer Jason Aaron both redefined the character of Thor, while also building to something big. At long last, it’s time for all of Aaron’s hard work to come to fruition. WAR OF THE REALMS #1 is the beginning of Aaron’s endgame (no, that’s not an Avengers pun).

WAR OF THE REALMS #1 acts very much as a setup to what is sure to be a much larger event. There are a lot of players to account for, so Aaron spends this issue getting everyone up to speed on who’s involved and establishing what’s at stake. The result is an explosive start to a huge event that leaves you wanting more, but in a good way, for sure.

To top off the explosive opening to Marvel’s latest event book, WAR OF THE REALMS #1 sports some truly exquisite pages from returning THOR artist Russell Dauterman. And boy, is it great to see this guy’s artwork again. Dauterman holds nothing back, and his brilliantly flashy pages look especially phenomenal thanks to colorist Matthew Wilson, who shades in each page to perfection.

WAR OF THE REALMS #1 Brings the War to Midgard

Of all the 10 realms, Midgard is the last one standing. The rest have descended into chaos, thanks to Malekith the Accursed and his army of vicious tyrants and killers. Malekith and his allies have been working long and hard to completely destroy the realms. Now, he’s closer than ever. His plans begin by trying to take out major players, like the All-Father, who isolates himself on Asgard. Malekith’s assassins descend on Odin, apparently ending his miserable life.

Back on Earth, Loki appears before Thor, having apparently been attacked by more of Malekith’s minions. Thor demands his brother take him to the dark elf leader, but when Loki teleports himself and Thor to Jotunheim (home of the frost giants), Loki reveals himself to be Malekith. The elf strands Thor on Jotunheim, presumably leaving Thor to a cold death at the hands of frost giants.

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WAR OF THE REALMS #1 page 12. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

In New York, many of the city’s heroes are already noticing the streets overrun with dark elves. It’s not long before Malekith’s armies attack in full. Fire spawn, frost giants, dark elves, and more descend upon Manhattan. Of course, it doesn’t take long for Earth’s heroes to show up, joining up with Freya (Thor’s mother), Jane Foster, and a few other familiar Asgardians.

Their efforts to fend off Malekith’s insanely massive army are mostly in vain, until Loki actually shows up. He does his best to fend off his father, Laufey, and Malekith. But, in typical giant fashion, Laufey… eats Loki. I hope we’re not going the ULTIMATUM route with this event.

With things looking bad for our heroes, we cut back to Jotunheim, where Thor is fending off waves of frost giants. Whether or not the Odinson will fall remains to be seen.

An Explosive Beginning

So, yeah, here we are once again. Another Marvel event. I know many readers are sick and tired of these kinds of stories. Me? I don’t mind them. Typically, I enjoy them. Jason Aaron gives me hope this won’t be just another event book. Though on the surface it doesn’t feel like much happens in WAR OF THE REALMS #1, this is a great setup to what aims to be a worthwhile event.

I’ve always loved Aaron’s attention to detail when depicting and explaining Norse mythology in the Marvel Universe. His narration strikes a wondrous tone; it feels like you’re listening to an old tale from the days of the Vikings. That comes out in full force in the opening moments of WAR OF THE REALMS #1. The narration is crisp and smooth and will instantly pull you in. He effortlessly shifts his tone from serious to fun, and it reads very well.

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WAR OF THE REALMS #1 page 35. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Aaron also wonderfully couples his narration with the action on the page. The moment you see Odin get stabbed in the gut, the gravity of this event hits home. However, this is contrasted heavily when Spider-Man is the first hero we see in WAR OF THE REALMS #1 (other than Thor, of course). This projects a light-heartedness I wasn’t expecting.

For me, that’s the big takeaway of WAR OF THE REALMS #1: it perfectly establishes the upcoming event. There will be blood (and hopefully some serious consequences), but Aaron’s also going to have as much fun with this one as possible. WAR OF THE REALMS #1 deftly blends opposing storytelling styles, yet it still flows without flaw. We have a lot to look forward to with this event.

WAR OF THE REALMS #1 Looks Astounding

If the epic-level storytelling in WAR OF THE REALMS #1 doesn’t impress you, then the art certainly will. You’ll find this issue completely littered with page after page of pure beauty. Russell Dauterman has outdone himself, truly.

Dauterman takes full advantage of his two-page spreads. There are several throughout WAR OF THE REALMS #1. From the simple depiction of the World Tree, to the full-scale invasion of Midgard, Dauterman’s detail-oriented style will leave you breathless when it comes to these more extravagant moments.

Even the more controlled pages will leave you breathless. The first moment when all the heroes assemble, which is preceded by the image of all the villains arriving, feels triumphant. That is, until the team is instantly torn apart by a frost giant.

My favorite artistic bit from WAR OF THE REALMS #1 comes from Dauterman’s unique use of sound effects. He captures images, like the heroes being knocked down by a frost giant, or Thor’s boat-home getting crashed by Loki, within the text of the sound effects. Unique moments like those will certainly help this event excel as a whole. Although, the final page of WAR OF THE REALMS #1 is still my favorite, as pictured below.

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WAR OF THE REALMS #1 page 45. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

I really can’t praise these pages enough. There isn’t a single slip-up to be found, really. Dauterman gets to play with so many different pieces in WAR OF THE REALMS #1, you’d think you’d find something to gripe at. But really, I can’t say I find fault with any single page. There’s nothing not to love, and so much more to look forward to, too.

This is Only the Beginning

War has finally reached Midgard. Our heroes find themselves completely outnumbered. Hope already seems very much like a fickle thing. I’m hopeful our heroes will emerge triumphant, but with the world already in utter chaos, it feels like it’ll take a miracle for our heroes to win.

WAR OF THE REALMS #1 delivers on just about every front. From Aaron’s epic storytelling, to Dauterman and Wilson’s insanely beautiful pages, you’ll be eager to keep reading by the end of this one.

My only worry for this event, as of now, is that the stakes don’t feel real enough just yet. Though this doesn’t feel like just any other Marvel event, it quickly could, should the stakes remain as low as they presently feel. But I have faith Aaron will fix that in due time.

Make sure you check out WAR OF THE REALMS #1 this week. This is one event no one should miss.

WAR OF THE REALMS #1 by Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman, and Matthew Wilson
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Summary
WAR OF THE REALMS #1 is the payoff to years of build-up from Jason Aaron. His gripping storytelling, coupled with Dauterman's and Wilson's pages, make this beginning feel special. This is already proving to be an event no one should miss.
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An Exciting Beginning

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