REALM OF KINGS: IMPERIAL GUARD #5
Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
VC's Clayton Cowles
*WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS*
I don’t know what I expected for the climax of what heretofore has been a fine, well-told adventure of the Shi’ar’s military elite, but it certainly was not what I read in REALM OF KINGS: IMPERIAL GUARD #5.
Don’t get me wrong. As we make our way to The Thanos Imperative, scribes Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning have given us a true taste of life as an Imperial Guardsman in this five-issue mini-series. We have seen death, learned a bit more of the individual personalities of the Guardsmen (a hard task when, once one is killed an almost identical character replaces him or her; the hero IDs are more ranks than individual monikers) and had some space battles far superior to most I have read in many a day.
For all that, there is something genuinely lacking in this mini’s final issue. Oh yes, I know it tells us that “The Mission Never Ends” and that the Mad Titan is on the horizon. Still, after finally getting to know new Praetor Mentor so well, it was quite a shock to see him sacrifice himself so that more Raptors could come into our world. On top of that, after their assistance to the Eye-Gees in battle with Fault monsters, Talon & Co. have built up some serious street cred. That doesn’t seem to bode well for Nova and his ally, Darkhawk. Aren’t these forces – the Imperial Guard and Nova’s alliance – about to unite against Thanos? How will the Guardsmen react when they see the cosmos’ top cop working side-by-side with Lilandra’s accused assassin? And more, will Talon be at Gladiator’s side?
I did love the use of the M’Kraan Crystal in this issue and it was nice to see Jahf again. That double-page spread of the leap from Chandilar to the Fault was quite nice. The up-and-down relationship between Neutron and Fang continued nicely in this issue as well; it is a shame how this culminates, because the former was one of my favorite characters on this journey into mystery. And it was gratifying to see Medusa – oops, Queen Medusa – and Kallark shake hands near the end of the saga, ready to put up a united front against any threat coming from the Fault.
What was not so gratifying here was the majority of Kevin Walker’s art, which surprised me since I have been a fan of this magazine above the remainder of Realm of Kings (with the exception of Guardians of the Galaxy). Did Mr. Walker draw this issue in a rush to make sure it made it to the church on time, or was there so much happening with so many characters the pencil just got out of control? (There really wasn’t that much happening as opposed to, say, the culmination of War of Kings.)
Our boy Wendell Vaughn got to speak a line or two and even use some Quantum Power in battle, but I expected so much more to occur after his arrival. He pretty much served as a cell phone recharger last ish and a stun gun this issue and that was about it. And has he ever looked worse? I loved the “evil” costume of Wendell 616 in the Realm of Kings one-shot, but this time around Walker just made Quasar ugly. Period.
At the end of this issue, my disappointment had me listing in my mind all the great things I expected of it after #1’s bombastic beginning, #2’s concentrated character bits and the chilling adventure in #3. (Perhaps the lack of use of Quasar therein shoulda been a clue?) Not one of DnA’s better outings this time.
And, at the end, I am left feeling like Fang on that final page: confused, empty and with a sense of loss I cannot explain.