In "War of Kings" #1, Vulcan, ruler of the Shi'Ar Empire, ignited the Marvel Universe's latest and perhaps greatest cosmic war by launching a surprise attack on the Kree and their Inhuman rulers. On sale now, "War of Kings" #2 saw the Inhuman/Kree king, Black Bolt, react to that attack by going on the offensive. He deployed some of his empire's own forces, but also made use of a group that has no direct allegiance to his people's cause, the Starjammers.
For the past several weeks, CBR has been exploring how the war might play out by closely examining the forces at the disposal Vulcan, ruler of the Shi'Ar, and Black Bolt, king of the Inhumans. In our previous installment of ALL THE KINGS' MEN, we identified the the pawns of the Inhuman King; characters who aren't part of the Inhuman/Kree Empire but still find themselves allied with them in their fight against the Shi'Ar emperor Vulcan. In today's in our final installment, "War of Kings" writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning -- collectively known to their fans as DnA -- join us to reveal the Black Pawns; those characters that have been coerced, manipulated or cajoled by Vulcan into fighting his Kree and Inhuman enemies in the cosmic chess game that is "War of Kings."
BLACK PAWN: STAR-LORD
As leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy, an intergalactic team of peace keepers, Peter Quill is dedicated to stopping the War of Kings dead in its tracks. "A catastrophe on this scale could literally blow the fabric of the universe wide open," DnA told CBR News.
To do that, Star-Lord is willing to take on both the Shi'Ar and the Inhumans, a fact that serves Emperor Vulcan just fine. "He's certainly going to lock horns with the Inhumans," DnA confirmed.
The writers added, "Peter's got great combat smarts and instincts. We see him as the Marvel Universe's answer to Buck Rogers or Han Solo."
BLACK PAWN: ROCKET RACCOON
Rocket is a bipedal, talking raccoon with opposable thumbs and a fondness for heavy weaponry. This may make him seem like the least intimidating member of the Guardians of the Galaxy, but his opponents should still be very cautious around him.
"He'll give you a really nasty nip on the ankles," DnA joked. "Seriously, he's easy to underestimate. But wait until you see him take down Gladiator.
BLACK PAWN: DRAX THE DESTROYER
Arthur Douglas was just a saxophonist before he was murdered by Thanos of Titan, the mad Eternal who at one point killed half the known universe just to impress his lover, the physical embodiment of Death. When the Eternals of Titan brought Douglas back as a living weapon to use against Thanos, Drax the Destroyer was born.
In the first Annihilation War, Drax completed his goal of killing Thanos, but in recent issues of "Guardians of the Galaxy," it seemed as though his work as a "Destroyer" was far from over. "Drax was created to be a symbolic avatar, and instrument of fate. Even though he's fulfilled his mission, he still has that destiny," DnA explained. "He is a destroyer, an archetype destroyer, because someday soon the Galaxy's really, really going to need one."
Drax's powers and abilities make him a particularly capable player. He's superhumanly strong, invulnerable, and incredibly resourceful. On top of that, Drax is the most ruthless member of the Guardians of the Galaxy, so whoever comes gunning for the Destroyer during "War of Kings" certainly has their work cut out for them.
BLACK PAWN: ADAM WARLOCK
Adam Warlock encouraged Star-Lord to gather together the current incarnation of the Guardians of the Galaxy, to hold together a cosmos that had been severely damaged by the two almost back-to-back Annihilation Wars. Now the galaxy is once again at war, and Warlock's powers of cosmic awareness tell him that this latest conflagration is one that could finally undo all of creation. Warlock's determined to do whatever it takes to end the war.
"He's serious," DnA said. "You might say this is why he was reborn."
Warlock's latest rebirth came in the pages of "Annihilation: Conquest," and with that rebirth came a plethora of superhuman and supernatural powers like the ability to create force fields, manipulate metaphysical energy, travel at faster than light speeds, and cast esoteric energies. This means if and when the Inhumans have a confrontation with the Guardians of the Galaxy, they better have a plan, because there's not many of them that could win a face-to-face battle with Warlock.
"Karnak, if he's lucky and quick, and gets the perfect strike in before Warlock hammers him," DnA said. "And one can never underestimate the power of Black Bolt."
BLACK PAWN: GAMORA
Gamora may be a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy, but she's also the self-proclaimed "deadliest woman in the universe." And she's not just boasting. Gamora's got the skills to back that proclamation up. Time and time again, she's defeated opponents whose superhuman strength and endurance should have made them unstoppable.
Unlike some of her teammates, Gamora isn't upset over the prospect of another intergalactic war. She seems to truly enjoy such conflicts, plus it might giver her a chance to reconnect with her former flame, Richard Rider - a.k.a. Nova.
"She likes a good scrap, it gives her a purpose," DnA explained. "And Richard-human? She'd love to run into him again. Just don't tell her he kissed Doctor Necker [a scientist at Project Pegasus who Rider kissed in 'Nova' #23]."
BLACK PAWN: PHYLA-VELL
Until recently, Phyla-Vell was known as Quasar and wielded the Quantum Bands as Protector of the Universe. That all came to an end in "Guardians of the Galaxy" #11-12, when she was forced to make some difficult choices to rescue her lover, Moondragon.
"Due to her actions in 'Guardians' #11 and #12, she's called Martyr now. She's also very fierce and angry," DnA eplained. "Things have changed for her on 'the other side' and it's scary to think what they might have been. Her life has been taken over by a pact with vast, mysterious powers."
So far though, Phyla's been seen wielding a deadly looking sword and appears to have become the new avatar of death for the cosmic entity known as Oblivion.
BLACK PAWN: DARKHAWK
In issue #2 of the recent "War of Kings: Darkhawk" miniseries, Chris Powell learned that he was one of the two remaining agents of a mysterious group called the Fraternity of the Raptors; whose name seems to suggest ties with the bird like Shi'Ar people. In the coming months, DnA will reveal more about the Fraternity and Darkhawk's role in the group. "They are manipulators on the grand scale, the architects of culture, with long-term psycho-historical plans and goals," the writers stated. "We've barely scratched the surface there."
When Chris Powell transforms into Darkhawk, he becomes a formidable armored being with a vast array of powers like flight, super strength and the ability fire blasts of concussive force. In "War of Kings: Darkhawk" #2, Talon, Powell's fellow agent in the Fraternity of the Raptors, showed him how to reconfigure his armored form, making him even more powerful. And with Talon's continued instruction, Darkhawk's power level will continue to increase.
"When the time comes, we want you to think of the old 1990s cool but very junior league Darkhawk and say to yourself, 'I can't believe this is the same character--doing this," DnA remarked. "And hopefully it will all seem logical, sensible, and an outgrowth both of his established history and the history of the greater cosmos."
BLACK PAWN: KA'ARDUM
Admiral Ka'Ardum doesn't have any super abilities, but he's still one of the most dangerous figures in "War of Kings." That's because he's commander in chief of all the forces serving Emperor Vulcan, which means he has the might of the entire Shi'Ar military machine under his command.
Ka'Ardum is only a pawn of Vulcan because he's too noble to willingly serve a maniacal dictator like Vulcan. Fortunately for the Emperor, Ka'Ardum is also fiercely loyal to his people, and right now sees serving the Shi'Ar and serving Vulcan as being the same thing.
CBR News thanks writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning as well as editors Bill Rosemann and Michael Horwitz for all their assistance and contributions to ALL THE KINGS' MEN.
"War of Kings" #2 is on sale now from Marvel Comics.