The plan this week was to do a recap and review of the first two episodes of Marvel’s Inhumans, now out in IMAX – but it turns out some IMAX theaters aren’t cool enough to get Inhumans, so you’ll have to wait until the series debuts later this month.
Instead, let’s start a new series. The Marvel Corner is a sometimes-series where I will recommend some of my favorite Marvel comic arcs, talk about them and walk you through my recommending reading list and order. Marvel reading orders are messy, but I’ll navigate you through.
So pick up a month of Marvel Unlimited and read along!
In honor of Inhumans, this week we will be discussing one of my favorites, the Inhumans-heavy cosmic arc War of Kings. Hot off the heels of Secret Invasion, this arc focuses on an intergalactic war between the Kree Empire and the Shi’ar Imperium, spearheaded by Black Bolt of the Inhumans and Cyclops’ brother Vulcan, respectively. Meanwhile, the Starjammers are trying their best to install the ex-Empress of the Shi’ar back on the throne, while the Guardians of the Galaxy are attempting to prevent the war from destroying the universe as we know it.
Before the series, I strongly recommend reading “Deadly Genesis” (X-Men: Deadly Genesis #1-6) and especially “The Rise and Fall of the Shi’ar Empire” (Uncanny X-Men #475-486). They are both fantastic and give you a good idea of what is going on, which is tantamount in such a big universe. “Deadly Genesis” will introduce you to Vulcan and some of the characters, while “Rise and Fall” details the origins of the war and revolution of the Shi’ar Imperium. Don’t worry about jumping in on Uncanny X-Men #475 – this is a stand-alone arc that piggybacks off “Deadly Genesis” and follows some of the X-Men joining the Starjammers in space to pursue Vulcan.
Next, you’re going to want to read Guardians of the Galaxy #7-12 (the 2008-2010 Lanning/Abnett series). You can read #1-6 first if you’d like for more context on the Guardians and the Secret Invasion, but you can jump in just fine on #7. After this, there are only two more pieces to fall in place before we get to the story proper: Secret Invasion: Inhumans #1-4 will set up the Kree side of the war, while X-Men: Emperor Vulcan #1-5 sets up the Shi’ar half.
(If you really don’t want to read all of this, which is – again – strongly recommended, the one-shot War of Kings Saga #1 sums up everything leading to this point. Even if you do read everything prior, “Saga” is a good brush-up with tidbits of context you may not have known.)
Now we get into the meat of the story and some spoiler territory, so I’ll stick to the reading order. We start with the one-shot Secret Invasion: War of Kings #1 and X-Men: Kingbreaker #1-4, furthering each side closer to war – but we still take a little detour back to Earth with Chris Powell in War of Kings: Darkhawk #1-2 and Richard Rider in Nova #22-23. This may feel weird and unrelated now, but it will make sense. Promise.
We then get to the titular war at last, reading War of Kings #1, Nova #24 and War of Kings #2. There’s no story without character development, so we flesh everyone out a bit with the one-shot War of Kings: Savage World of Skaar #1 and the anthology mini-series War of Kings: Warriors #1-2. Then we catch up with Darkhawk, the Guardians and Nova again with War of Kings: Ascension #1, Guardians of the Galaxy #13 and Nova #25 before briefly hopping back into the fray for War of Kings #3.
We repeat this pattern two more times after War of Kings #3 with War of Kings: Ascension #2, Guardians of the Galaxy #14, Nova #26, War of Kings #4 and War of Kings: Ascension #3, Guardians of the Galaxy #15, Nova #27, War of Kings #5. We then cut Nova out for a bit to continue (and, in some cases, conclude) some series with War of Kings: Ascension #4, Guardians of the Galaxy #16 and concluding the war with the final War of Kings, the heartbreaking War of Kings #6.
We wrap up with Guardians of the Galaxy #17 and Nova #28 before a hopeful new beginning with the one-shot War of Kings: Who Will Rule? #1. To end the story on all fronts, read the denouement: Guardians of the Galaxy #18-19 and Nova #29-31, which lead towards the exciting Realm of Kings, coming to a Marvel Corner near you… sometime!
X-Men: Deadly Genesis #1-6
Uncanny X-Men #475-486
Guardians of the Galaxy #7-12
Secret Invasion: Inhumans #1-4
X-Men: Emperor Vulcan #1-5
War of Kings Saga #1
Secret Invasion: War of Kings #1
X-Men: Kingbreaker #1-4
War of Kings: Darkhawk #1-2
War of Kings #1
War of Kings: Savage World of Skaar #1
War of Kings: Warriors #1-2
War of Kings: Ascension #1
Guardians of the Galaxy #13
War of Kings #3
War of Kings: Ascension #2
Guardians of the Galaxy #14
War of Kings #4
War of Kings: Ascension #3
Guardians of the Galaxy #15
War of Kings #5
War of Kings: Ascension #4
Guardians of the Galaxy #16
War of Kings #6
Guardians of the Galaxy #17
War of Kings: Who Will Rule? #1
Guardians of the Galaxy #18-19