With Midgard having fallen into complete chaos, it’s up to the united heroes of Earth and Asgard to push back Malekith and his dark armies. That’s much easier said than done, of course, and WAR OF THE REALMS #3 makes that very clear.

Writer Jason Aaron juggles several huge super teams in WAR OF THE REALMS #3, each with a different mission. Whether it’s finding and saving Thor, destroying Malekith’s Black Bifrost, or simply trying to reestablish control around the globe, everyone has a job to do. And though this might seem dizzying at first, it winds up actually being a lot of fun to read.

Artist Russell Dauterman and colorist Matthew Wilson once again leave everything in their pages. With each issue of WAR OF THE REALMS, this creative duo keeps outdoing themselves. The individual character work in WAR OF THE REALMS #3 is more understated, but there’s a consistent artistic tone, which keeps you hooked throughout.

Divide and Conquer in WAR OF THE REALMS #3

WAR OF THE REALMS #3 jumps right into the action. Freyja assigns Captain America the task of saving Thor from Jotunheim. Cap takes Spider-Man, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and Wolverine with him to the icy realm. Daredevil joins Heimdall in Asgard and takes up the sword, Hofund, to become the all-seeing God Without Fear. The two are joined by Jane Foster and the Destroyer, as they defend the revitalized Rainbow Bridge.

In Svartalfheim, Freyja leads a grisly team to destroy Malekith’s Black Bifrost. She is joined by She-Hulk, Punisher, Blade, and Ghost Rider. Back on Earth, things are hardly looking good, as Malekith’s allies have taken to claiming the continents as their own. The dark elf is seen taking down a number of heroes in the UK. Luckily, a new team of War Avengers rushes into battle with him.

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WAR OF THE REALMS #3 page 7. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

The war has spread across the world. The trolls have taken over Australia. Wakanda fends off the dark angels of Heven. Namor can be seen defending the deep from fire sharks. Back in New York, the Fantastic Four defend their city.

It’s at this point that everything starts going wrong. Daredevil and his company are unable to defend the Rainbow Bridge. The War Avengers taste defeat, as Malekith steals the Black Knight’s Ebony Blade and disintegrates Venom with it. Cap’s team has some luck; eventually they find Thor, but he’s lost in a manic berserker rage.

WAR OF THE REALMS #3 Paints a Fearsome Picture

There’s a lot going on in WAR OF THE REALMS #3. But while this isn’t Aaron’s most thematic storytelling, it’s undoubtedly some of his most exciting. The writer has no problem holding your attention this time around, because even though there’s a lot to keep track of, every action our heroes take is meaningful in some way. You get the sense it’s all leading to something bigger. And if that isn’t the case, then — at the very least — it’s just fun to read.

I particularly enjoyed watching Cap’s team venture through Jotunheim. There’s tons of humorous banter from Spidey, some fitting dialogue between Cage and Iron Fist, and Wolverine gets a few moments to shine. This team feels like the least qualified to go galavanting through a frost-giant-infested world, but they work so well together that you kind of forget how underpowered they are.

Also, I’m thoroughly surprised with how much Aaron is using the Punisher. Not only that, but he’s also using him fairly well. We get a snippet of Punisher “war journal” narration. The grizzled killer is, ironically, right at home in a huge warzone, though this is obviously not his typical kind of war.

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WAR OF THE REALMS #3 page 15. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

My favorite moment was watching Daredevil take up Heimdall’s sword. Hearing him shout about all the things he’s seeing paints a broader picture for this war. Not to mention, he looks awesome. But with all that information flooding Daredevil’s mind, it overwhelms him, which helps maintain a sensible power level for him.

Aaron handles all of these elements in a flashy manner, which makes for great fun. While there isn’t much in terms of delving deep into specific characters, the story still moves smoothly, so it’s forgivable.

Full-Scale War Never Looked So Good

WAR OF THE REALMS #3 takes just about everything to the next level. That includes the artwork, too. Dauterman and Wilson effortlessly jump from scene to scene, mapping out Aaron’s frantic script to a tee.

It’s tough to say who does a better job here. Dauterman’s pages and character work are near-perfect, but without Wilson’s colors, those pages lose much of their tonal flair. Together, these two have no trouble making sure your eyes are glued to every single page.

Part of why I love Daredevil’s scenes so much is because of how beautiful they are. Daredevil usually shrouds himself in darkness with his fists caked in the blood of street thugs. For this typically brutal character to take such a drastic turn is refreshing. He’s pictured in a beautiful light, and looks downright badass wielding that huge sword.

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WAR OF THE REALMS #3 page 21. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

For Dauterman and Wilson to be able to jump from all these different environments so swiftly also speaks to their talent. One moment, we’re in Svartalfheim, where everything is dark and muddy, with a purple overtone. The next, we’re in Jotunheim, where just about everything is blue and frosty. Thanks to the artists’ talents, it’s much easier for readers to keep track of everything.

The final page in particular is an intimidating one. Seeing Thor in his berserker rage is a great way to cap off an exciting issue like WAR OF THE REALMS #3.

Is This the Part Where We Start Winning?

WAR OF THE REALMS #3 doesn’t leave our heroes in a dangerous position, but it’s not exactly a good one either. We’re pretty much right in the thick of things right now. We’ve got a ways to go, but there’s a glimmer of hope, if anything. Honestly, I’m just curious if Malekith has a higher goal than watching the realms burn at this point. Guess we’ll have to wait to find out.

Thankfully, if you had any doubts before about this event, WAR OF THE REALMS #3 should do a good job of starting to put those to rest. Aaron still has some work to do to completely sell me on this story, but this is an excellent effort to making this one of the better crossovers in recent Marvel history.

Thanks to Dauterman and Wilson, WAR OF THE REALMS #3 stands a few steps higher than its predecessors. Their art perfectly captures the fast-paced action of this issue, and keeps you clued into what’s happening in every single scene.

Now, I’m just hoping Cap and his team can bring Thor home safe and sound. He’s not looking good at all. Fingers crossed.

WAR OF THE REALMS #3 by Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman, and Matthew Wilson
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
WAR OF THE REALMS #3 is as exhilarating as it is gorgeous. Aaron's fast-paced writing, coupled with Dauterman and Wilson's beautiful pages, make this the strongest issue of the massive crossover event so far.
93 %
Reassuring and Exhilarating

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