WAR OF THE REALMS #1 was an explosive start to an event long in the making. WAR OF THE REALMS #2 continues writer Jason Aaron’s epic new event, raising the stakes and progressing the plot in somewhat meaningful ways. Not to mention, it all looks spectacular.

Aaron shows off his flair for excitement in WAR OF THE REALMS #2. There’s plenty of high-octane action to keep you entertained from start to finish. On top of that, Aaron defines exactly what our heroes have to do to win this war, which helps the readers get a bit more involved in the story.

Artist Russell Dauterman and colorist Matthew Wilson once again deliver some drop-dead gorgeous pages. There’s nothing quite as flashy as in WAR OF THE REALMS #1, but that hardly means these pages pale in comparison. Quite the contrary, actually; these pages are just as impressive, just for different reasons.

Raising the Stakes (Mostly)

WAR OF THE REALMS #2 is a bit of a beast, storytelling wise. Manhattan is in utter chaos. People are evacuating to Doctor Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum. The Punisher and Wolverine are slaughtering all the dark elves they can. The Avengers battle with many of Malekith’s allies however they can. Even with clever tactics and such, the odds seem completely stacked against our heroes.

WAR OF THE REALMS #2
WAR OF THE REALMS #2 page 7. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Though the battle seems like a losing one, assistance comes in the form of Odin (who is unsurprisingly still alive) and the Valkyries of Valhalla. The tide quickly seems to turn in favor of Midgard. With the help of the reinforcements, the team is able to take down a group of dark elf witches blocking Doctor Strange’s magic. With the blockage removed, Strange is able to teleport (literally) everyone (excluding the villains) out of the city and to Avengers Mountain.

Inside the Mountain, the heroes regroup and reorganize themselves into teams, with clearer objectives and goals. Freyja and Odin tell of how they must save Thor in Jotunheim and destroy Malekith’s Black Bifrost in Svartalfheim. Though Odin is unable to fight (for now), Freyja hopes to take a few heroes with her to Jotunheim. Black Panther points his Agents of Wakanda at Roxxon. Captain America puts Captain Marvel in charge of rallying Earth’s military. And it seems Daredevil’s place in this war may come to light very soon.

Action Balanced With Emotion

Though the explosive fight sequences take center stage in WAR OF THE REALMS #2, there’s also a surprising amount of emotion and significant plot progression. The latter comes during the second half of the issue, with all the heroes plotting out their tasks moving forward. As for the former, there are plenty of sincere moments spread throughout WAR OF THE REALMS #2.

Jane Foster seems to have an important role in this story. It’s unclear exactly what that role is, for now, but I suspect it’ll be impactful later down the line. But she shows a lot of heart throughout this issue, wanting to fight and weeping when she can’t.

WAR OF THE REALMS #2
WAR OF THE REALMS #2 page 21. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

WAR OF THE REALMS #2 features plenty of smart writing from Jason Aaron. He captures a ton of individual personalities all at once. There are a few bits with Malekith that really impressed me; he comes off as both threatening and snarky all at once, which I love. It’s not top-tier villain material, but it at least makes his character more enjoyable. And pitting many of Earth’s heroes against many of the villains brings out some more humorous moments. Spidey’s fight with Sindr is particularly entertaining, and watching Cap smack down a frost giant is sweetly satisfying.

My problem with WAR OF THE REALMS #2 is that the stakes are raised, but only on paper. What I mean by that is though the threat is very real for our heroes, it doesn’t feel entirely too real for the reader. All the colorful banter and exciting action undermines just how serious this situation really is. This threat needs to feel more palpable moving forward.

WAR OF THE REALMS #2 Features Gripping Pages

Much like WAR OF THE REALMS #1, Russell Dauterman and Matthew Wilson get to really show off their skills in WAR OF THE REALMS #2. Their work is more balanced here, much like Aaron’s writing.

Of course, the first half of this issue features some explosive pages. The action is especially satisfying thanks to Dauterman and Wilson’s pages. They mimic much of their work from the previous issue, including those clever panels within the sound effects. Though there’s nothing quite as spectacular as there was in WAR OF THE REALMS #1, there are certainly some contenders here.

What sets WAR OF THE REALMS #2 apart from its predecessor are the more contained character moments. A standout page features Doctor Strange doing some hardcore spell-casting. The final pages featuring Brunnhilde (Valkyrie) are also especially extravagant. Whether it’s a more self-contained moment or a chaotic action sequence, Dauterman and Wilson strike a perfect balance in their delivery.

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WAR OF THE REALMS #2 page 23. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Though the bright colors may somewhat detract from the overall seriousness of the situation, they work well to hold your focus. Even in the slower moments, the drawings are so crisp and smooth, which helps get the story across, believe it or not.

WAR OF THE REALMS #2 Leaves You Worried

WAR OF THE REALMS #2 concludes with a tragic loss. I won’t say who, but this death doesn’t exactly bode well for the rest of this war. Even with our heroes focused on their tasks, they still have much to do to win this war.

Jason Aaron keeps things tense and exciting in WAR OF THE REALMS #2. However, as hectic as the story may be, it still doesn’t feel impactful enough. Moving forward, I want to see some more mature storytelling, perhaps. Potential consequences with substantial weight need to be established, or this story’s integrity may be at risk.

On the upside, Dauterman and Wilson deliver in every aspect when it comes to their art. Between Dauterman’s clean character drawing and Wilson’s pitch-perfect tones, you’ll be rigorously reading this book for the art alone, if nothing else.

The question remains, however: where is Thor? Here’s hoping the frost giants didn’t beat him to a bloody pulp.

WAR OF THE REALMS #2 by Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman, and Matthew Wilson
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
WAR OF THE REALMS #2 keeps the action flowing, while also progressing the story in some meaningful ways. Although, as impressive as the art and tense story are, the stakes are starting to feel somewhat lackluster. I hope this doesn't remain a consistent problem.
92 %
Thoroughly Tense

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