The Marvel Universe will once again be ablaze with the fires of interstellar warfare in just a few short weeks, when the six-issue "War of Kings" miniseries by writers Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning and artist Paul Pelletier begins. "War of Kings" is not just a personal contest between the tituar monarchs, Black Bolt and Vulcan, but also a clash between Marvel's last two great intergalactic cultures: Vulcan's Shi'ar Empire and Black Bolt's subjects, which now include both the Kree and the Inhumans. Naturally, a conflict of such magnitude won't involve only the forces loyal to each king; all the major galactic players in the Marvel U are going to have to get in the game.
Fans are of course wondering just what role their favorite characters might play in the coming war, and how they might affect its ultimate outcome. In our previous installment of ALL THE KING'S MEN, Abnett and Lanning (collectively known to their fans as DnA) joined us to reveal the Kings and Queens in the cosmic chess game that is "War of Kings." In today's installment, we welcome them back as they help us identify the Bishops.
Crystal's ability to psionically manipulate the elements of earth, air, water and fire makes her a potentially devastating force on the battlefield. She can ignite enemy explosives, drown foes with tidal waves, blow them away with gale force winds, or destroy them with seismic tremors.
Crystal's also particularly good at holding a special type of ground -- the high moral one. "She's compassionate. More than any other member of the Inhuman Royal family, she has, over the years as an Avenger and a member of the FF, fought the good fight," DnA told CBR News. "She understands why the Inhumans have set off on this course, but she hates the idea that anyone will suffer because of them. She is the Inhumans' voice of reason and humanity."
Being such a pragmatic voice in a time of war can be a very dangerous part to play. DnA said, "If she ends up torn between her loyalty to her family and her basic need to do the right thing, she may hesitate... fatally."
WHITE BISHOP: RONAN THE ACCUSER
The cosmos of the Marvel Universe is a very unstable place. Two "Annihilation" wars erupted recently, one between the forces of Annihilus and the other against the techno-organic Phalanx. Ronan the Accuser played a vital part in both conflicts, giving the warrior a wealth of a combat experience and the respect of his fellow Kree, whom he used to rule before conceding the crown to Black Bolt. Ronan is also armed with a full body combat exo-skeleton and a device called the "Universal Weapon" that allows him to manipulate cosmic energy in a variety of ways.
But is Ronan willing to put his weapons and skills to work for the Kree's new masters, the Inhumans? "He loves life under Inhuman rule," DnA said. "Essentially, Ronan sees the Inhumans as an almost messianic force. He sees them as saviors for the Kree, coming to rescue the Kree from several years of serious suffering (the Annihilation events) and their basic evolutionary stagnation. The Inhumans are the best thing that has happened to the Kree in ages."
The Inhumans may have earned Ronan's good will, but that doesn't mean the Accuser is entirely devoted to their cause. "When it comes down to it, he is entirely Kree-centric," DnA confirmed. "He supports the Inhumans, but only because of what they can do for the Kree. If that loyalty is tested, look out."
BLACK BISHOP: LILANDRA NERAMANI
Lilandra Neramani is a former ruler of the Shi'Ar. When hard times came to her people, Lilandra was there for them, whether it meant making difficult diplomatic decisions or picking up a weapon and fighting. When you add that experience to her time spent with the space pirates known as the Star Jammers, you have a woman who's equally skilled in the arts of war and peace.
As a former ruler of the Shi'Ar, Lilandra is violently opposed to Vulcan's rule -- so why is she on Vulcan's side of the board? Because Vulcan's side isn't his alone; it's the side of the Shi'Ar race, and Lilandra's ultimate loyalty is to them. But the Shi'Ar emperor is quite cunning and could exploit Lilandra's devotion, turning her into a reluctant or unwitting agent of his agenda.
BLACK BISHOP: GLADIATOR
Emperor Vulcan has a variety of weapons at his disposal, from mammoth starships to the latest in high tech munitions. But the most fearsome weapon in the Emperor's arsenal is Gladiator, the leader of the Shi'Ar Imperial Guard. "You'd have to look a long way to find anyone who'd even have a chance of taking him down," DnA said. "Vulcan? Maybe, but they're on the same side. Black Bolt? Possibly, under the right conditions. Personally, our money's on Rocket Raccoon. What makes Gladiator really dangerous isn't the fact that he can attack you at light speed, punch you so hard your spleen ends up in another continuum, and then roast your soul with his eye beams. What makes him really dangerous is that he is totally, totally loyal. There is no reasoning with him."
However, an encounter with Gladiator doesn't necessarily have to end up in death or defeat. Abnett & Lanning offered up a few options for characters who encounter Gladiator on the battlefield: "Hide. Disguise themselves as inert rocks. Or take our advice and send for Rocket Raccoon."
Stay with CBR for more of ALL THE KINGS MEN in the weeks leading up to "War of Kings!"