War of the Realms is almost here. With an April release date and six issues spanning through to June, Marvel comics is ready to re-attempt its most ambitious crossover event ever. But like with any major comic line, there are a lot of moving pieces and complicated, if not convoluted, storylines that are all going to come to a head next month. That means there's a lot to catch up on.
If you don't follow all of the Marvel lines or maybe dropped out of the current Thor line a few months ago, have no fear. Marvel graciously provided us a cheat sheet. Get ready, here's the TL;DR version of everything we know about the War of the Realms.
6 Who Will Be In War Of The Realms?
War of the Realms will include the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, Wolverine, Thor... basically, everyone you could think of. Captain America? There. She-Hulk? Being a boss. Iron Man? Lost his invitation, but assumed he was invited anyways.
Other confirmed heroes include Spider-Man, Shuri, Blade, Punisher, Venom, and poor Daredevil's going to have his world turned upside-down.
Daredevil will take on the powers of Heimdall and all things considered, it makes sense. While this is a massively important role to take on and most likely integral to defeating Malekith, the humor potential is through the roof.
Captain America will most likely have the largest role compared to the other characters listed, though Marvel’s promised that everyone will contribute to the story in some way.
5 Who Is The Villain?
The big bad is Malekith, a Dark Elf from Svartalfheim. Introduced in 1984 by writer Walter Simonson, Jason Aaron (Thor's current writer) freed him for the party. Growing up during a time of war, Malekith became intrigued by it and instead of pledging a life of peace, it became his entire life. Unlike the MCU’s version, this Malekith doesn’t seem to have any additional motivation beyond warmongering and a love of conquering stuff. With stories striving to make their villains redeemable or double as anti-heroes, sometimes it’s refreshing seeing a more one-dimensional approach.
For those of us who watched, Thor: The Dark World, Malekith the Accursed (played by Christopher Eccelston) was the main antagonist of the film. Though it's unlikely he'll be led to Earth by tracking Jane Foster via absorption of the Aether, maybe it still counts as potential foreshadowing?
Malekith's other allies include the Frost Giants from Jottunheim, the Light Elves from Alfheim, the Rock Trolls from Nornheim, the Fire Goblins of Muspelheim, Dario Agger, Enchantress, and Loki. And guess what? They’re all coming to Earth. Yikes.
Kurse gets a section because buckle up, we got a new one. Kurse was once known as Algrim the Strong, a Dark Elf who served Malekith back in the day. Algrim's loyalty resulted in a fight with Thor and a swim in some magma. And lo, from the magma and enchanted armor arose an amnesiac Kurse. His deep hatred towards Thor spurred him on for years until he realized that the whole mess was Malekith's fault. It really was, Malekith ordered the magma pitfall and made Algrim fight Thor to begin with.
Kurse eventually got his happy ending by slaying Malekith and after satisfying his need for vengeance, became pretty peaceful and amiable. After defending Asgard from Loki and the Frost Giants, he was renamed Valgoth and given a place among the Asgardians.
The new Kurse won't be Algrim, but rather a female Dark Elf who took Malekith's place as prisoner. Malekith then frees her only to turn her into Kurse, where she's forced to serve him for who knows how long. Her backstory promises to be different and possibly more tragic, given her prior alliance with Thor. But the rest is a mystery.
3 What Are The Ten Realms?
The Ten Realms include Alfheim, Asgard, Vanaheim, Jotunheim, Nidavellir, Svartalfheim, Niffleheim, Muspelheim, Midgard - aka Earth - and Heven. Heads up, Heven isn't the Norse mythology Heven. It's actually filled with mercenaries and giant laser swords. They’d be pretty cool, but the queen of the angels is apparently one of Malekith’s generals. So yeah, slightly less cool unless you’re into villains.
Odin has some backstory with this Heven too. When Heven was warring with Asgard, Odin believed that his baby girl had been killed by the angels. Out of grief and anger, he banished the realm and had it erased from everyone’s memory. It’s only recently that we know the baby, Angela, survived and the history of Heven in the current Marvel comics.
2 How Much Thor Do You Need To Know?
War of the Realms is very much a Thor story. Though the loss of Mjolnir doesn't take the "mighty" out of the Mighty Thor, the destruction of the Rainbow Bridge does. Unfortunately, Malekith has a dark version of the Bifrost, allowing him travel flexibility that Thor doesn't currently have.
Jane Foster will play a major part in the story. Or, we can assume so as Marvel's editor Wil Moss refused to say much on the matter. We'll daydream cool stuff for her to do until the release date.
Other members of the Thor family confirmed for an appearance include Odin, Freya, Cul Borson, and Angela.
Both the League of Realms and the Congress of Worlds oppose Malekith. The League will feature new members while the Congress will be somewhat fractured. As the Congress consists of representatives from each realm, it most likely won't be too prevalent given how many realms Malekith conquered. Odin has a lot to answer for, as he's been by the wayside while realms were falling.
1 Getting Caught Up
Thankfully, Marvel's making War of the Realms very user-friendly. If you're not caught up, then this is probably the best starting point you'll get for a while. War of the Realms is designed to be pretty user-friendly, so you won't need to read the entire Thor line in order to understand what's going on. It's not a reboot, but it's going to be a massive event that will reflect in the other comic lines it touches.
But there's still almost a month until the first issues launches, so you do have time to catch up. And Marvel provided a cheat sheet! No, it does not contain every issue of Thor. It's ok. You don't need to read every issue of Thor if you don't want to.
For more background information on War of the Realms, some not-Thor titles include Secret Wars, Original Sin, Marvel Legacy, and Avengers.