Marvel's "War of Kings" panel Friday afternoon at New York Comic Con featured the announcement of an online-only tie in series, "War of Kings: Warriors." The miniseries, available to subscribers of Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited, will feature a two-part Gladiator story Christos Gage with art by Mahmud Asrar on May 6 and 20, followed by a two-parter starring Crystal on June 6 and 17 by Jay Faerber and Adriana Melo. Gage then returns with Carlos Magno on July 1 and 15 to focus on Blastaar, and Faerber and Timothy Green wrap up with Lilandra on July 29 and August 5. CBR News spoke with Gage and Faerber about the series.
Given that these warriors may be the frontline in the grand war between Emperor Vulcan, current ruler of the Shi'Ar Empire, and Black Bolt, once and future king of the Inhumans, we asked the writers to describe what roles their characters would play in the "War of Kings" story arc. "Gladiator is the Praetor (leader) of the Shi'Ar Imperial Guard, and Emperor Vulcan's right-hand man," Gage told CBR. "He's always been the strong right hand of the Shi'ar ruler no matter who that may be. When Lilandra was in charge, he was loyal to her...now that she's hunted, there are more than a few people wondering why Gladiator remains loyal to Vulcan, but so far he's been steadfast.
"We'll be telling his origin for the first time in the character's thirty year history...and examining why he is so devoted to the Shi'ar throne, regardless of who's occupying it," the writer said of the "Warriors" story. "That's in the context of a present-day bookend, which shows why this is a very real and ongoing consideration in the War of Kings."
For Gage's other two-parter, which stars Blastaar, he said the tie-in takes place between "Annihilation" and "War of Kings." "Blastaar is one of the Kings himself--King of the Negative Zone. An outcast from his own people, he has won his position by virtue of strength, determination, the recruiting of an army of others like himself, and a sheer refusal to fall," Gage said. "We'll be showing how, in the wake of the fall of Annihilus, he was able to unite the fractious races of the Negative Zone and become ruler of that dimension.
The warrior women Faerber will be writing both have royal histories, but recent conflicts have given each a reason to question the fates they've been given. "Both Crystal and Lilandra's stories are designed to give them the spotlight before they leap into the ensemble events of 'War of Kings,'" Faerber explained. "The stories are set before 'War of Kings,' so the aim is to give readers even more insight into the characters' motivations and personalities. We'll be doing that by highlighting key turning points in their back stories and examining how those events informed their world views. They're not straight origin stories, but they will hopefully give fans a deeper understanding of each character."
Faerber said that Crystal's background, especially its more worldly aspects, would significantly influence the part she plays in the conflict. "Crystal is a member of Black Bolt's royal family of Inhumans, and has done time as an Avenger and as a fill-in member of the Fantastic Four," he said of his first story's star. "As such, she has a slightly different world view than most of the Inhumans, and finds herself not entirely comfortable with Black Bolt's new, aggressive stance."
Whereas Crystal is operating from within the Inhumans power base, the deposed Shi'Ar empress Lilandra is fighting to reclaim her former title. "Lilandra is watching in horror as Emperor Vulcan twists and corrupts everything the Empire used to represent," Faerber said. "Lilandra is the former lover of Professor Xavier, and is currently teaming with the Starjammers and putting plans in motion to reclaim her throne and restore the Shi'Ar Empire to its former glory."
"War of Kings: Warriors" begins May 6 at http://marvel.com/digitalcomics/