The realms are in chaos, Midgard most of all, as of late. WAR OF THE REALMS #3 saw our heroes working to repel Malekith’s ongoing assault. WAR OF THE REALMS #4 takes things a step further, with the heroes finally gaining some much-needed ground in this war.

Writer Jason Aaron’s epic event story continues in an exciting fashion. WAR OF THE REALMS #4 features plenty of fast-paced storytelling, high-quality action sequences, and a few exciting character moments for Freyja and Odin. Aside from that, though, there unfortunately isn’t much substance to this issue.

Artist Russell Dauterman and colorist Matthew Wilson, however, have little to no problems making WAR OF THE REALMS #4 look perfectly outstanding. This duo can truly do no wrong when it comes to this event.

Gaining Speed in WAR OF THE REALMS #4

Lady Freyja defends and controls the Black Bifrost in Svartalfheim. In doing so, she sends the allied heroes throughout the ten realms, gaining allies in the fight against Malekith. Punisher goes to recruit the light elves of Alfheim; Blade, the Vanir gods of Vanaheim; She-Hulk, the dwarves of Nidavellir; and Ghost Rider, the creepy forces of Niffleheim. On top of that, Captain America and his team have successfully saved Thor from Jotunheim.

With everyone gathered back at Avengers Mountain, Odin erupts from his chambers a bloody mess, calling for his wife. Freyja remains in Svartalfheim, since she has to close and destroy the Black Bifrost. Before she can, however, Malekith returns to his home realm, nearly killing Freyja with the Venom symbiote, which he has somehow gained control of.

WAR OF THE REALMS #4 page 7. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Odin sets out to help her, adorned in new armor designed by Tony Stark and the dwarf Screwbeard. The two expect their collective demise. And in what are apparently their final moments together, they show the first signs of love for each other in a long, long time.

With Freyja and Odin gone, it’s up to the rest of the heroes to put an end to Malekith’s war. And who better to lead them than Thor, who’s adorned himself with a new Destroyer arm (much like the one we see King Thor use in Jason Aaron’s THOR).

Excitement with Little Substance

On the surface, there isn’t much wrong with WAR OF THE REALMS #4. It’s entertaining and exciting, through and through. I found myself pumped to see the heroes finally winning some battles in this seemingly unwinnable war. Freyja and Odin absolutely steal the show, which I loved seeing.

WAR OF THE REALMS #4 page 13. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Fantastic action and crisp storytelling aside, though, WAR OF THE REALMS #4 doesn’t do much to deepen the event. At least, not on a thematic level. As best I can tell, Aaron’s attempts at this are in the moments when Malekith preaches about how his war will never end. This perhaps hints at the meaning behind Malekith’s madness, but there’s not enough there to completely draw me in.

At this point, WAR OF THE REALMS doesn’t feel like a substantial event. At least, not anymore. What started as something that could have had major ramifications for the Marvel Universe has, very much so, turned into another typical Marvel event. If there’s a major payoff to be had by the end of this whole thing, I certainly couldn’t tell you what it is.

Stunning Artwork Beats Out the Lacking Story in WAR OF THE REALMS #4

Once again, Dauterman and Wilson deliver an incredible visual experience. Given that most of the story in WAR OF THE REALMS #4 is told through its action sequences, it’s appropriate that those sequences be astonishingly beautiful. Freyja is armed with a sword called the Bitterblade, which causes her to don this dark aura. She looks insanely awesome throughout this issue. And it goes without saying that Odin wearing his Iron Man armor is downright badass.

WAR OF THE REALMS #4 page 23. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

The calmer moments in WAR OF THE REALMS #4 are handled with the same finesse and care that the action sequences are handled with. Dauterman and Wilson display a wonderful amount of control here, especially when you consider how quickly they shift back and forth between storytelling tones.

There are moments where the pages may feel overly saturated, but this hardly detracts from the overall quality. As a whole, this issue is another artistic success.

What Comes Next?

With Thor back on his feet, he aims to lead the realms to victory against Malekith. At this point, though, it seems like a pretty simple job to just beat Malekith and his forces. Unless the dark elf has something up his sleeve (which he very well could).

As for WAR OF THE REALMS #4, Aaron’s storytelling is fun to read, but it simply has too little substance. There isn’t much to draw me in on an emotional level. Nor is there anything that makes me really think about what I’m reading. It might not be Aaron’s point to make me stop and really think about this story, but I’d be surprised to see him write a story without some deeper thematic message. As for the art, it’s another win for Dauterman and Wilson, enough said.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Aaron had a complete shocker of an ending in store for us, which could redeem this story as a whole. But until then, I’ll be reading the remaining issues of this event with reserved excitement.

WAR OF THE REALMS #4 by Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman, and Matthew Wilson
WAR OF THE REALMS #4 helps Marvel's latest event gain some speed, but it doesn't do enough to deepen the story as a whole. Aaron's storytelling is still sharp, just not quite fulfilling here. Luckily, Dauterman and Wilson have no problem delivering outstanding pages.
87 %
Intense, Yet Unfulfilling

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