War of the Realms: War Scrolls (#3) – Various

2 out of 5

Some selectively okay moments, but very uneven overall.

For what it’s worth: I have no idea why this is in my collection. Why I would’ve bought #3 of a tie-in series to an event I have zero cares for. But in a way, that can be good for reviewing – does this random sneak make me interested to find out more? Well, on the whole, no, but the lead story – the conclusion to a Daredevil 3-parter – comes closest.

War of the Realms, in short, seems to have empowered various heroes and villains with god-like status, something something warring over Midgard. So in ‘the God Without Fear,’ Jason Aaron, artist Andrea Sorrentino, and colorist Matthew Wilson, pit an anted-up DD against Malekith and Kurse. And this is all very solid comic-booking. While Sorrentino’s thin, whispy linework isn’t to my taste, their paneling is excellent, really delivering action beats, which Aaron punctuates with well-chosen dialogue. And DD delivers a pretty badass defeat – it doesn’t feel like a “cheat,” but rather a successful melding of his powers plus a god’s. It’s pretty cool. The story also has some important light / dark / rainbow elements that need a good colorist to effect with punch, and Wilson does just that. Really, the only reason I can say this doesn’t interest me in knowing more about the War of the Realms is because it gives me the conclusion: heroes figure out how to harness the good stuff and start to win. The dramaturgy leading up to that – thanks, intro page summary – doesn’t seem interesting enough to make me go back and dig into it.

Alas, the other two entries in this book aren’t on this level of entertainment. Christopher Cantwell goes for a dual narrative in Latveria, giving us a soldier’s and villager’s POV on Doom’s leadership, and Cantwell keeps dipping into humor that feels entirely inappropriate to the generally serious tone of the story. The back and forth on the narrative is also not great – it’s probably not a good sign in terms of immersion if I don’t realize the tale-teller has actually changed. To be fair, Cian Tormey gives us cues in the art, but I think it’s that the voice of the leading narrator isn’t strong enough to establish the character, so there’s no sense of change when we go to narrator two. And then the back-and-forth doesn’t build up to a conclusion that really required it.

Charlie Jane Anders’ She-Hulk backup has some good moments – particular She-Hulk’s discussion with Freya about dating her son, Thor – but the story was just an odd choice for the book in terms of tone. It’s very young adult, from Simone D’Armini’s stylized art – which I really enjoyed, but again, a strange match compared to the rest of the book – and Federico Blee’s poppy, neon colors, and a version of Punisher and Blade who are, like, quippy. War of the Realms seems like a big deal – at least as presented in this issue – so to suddenly lens it via a teen dating drama feels puzzling, and the bits surrounding that aforementioned discussion unfortunately come across as generic Marvel banter stuff, the shorthand house style for an MCU-adjacent tone.