Writer: Bryan Hill
Artists: Leinil Francis Yu (penciller), Gerry Alanguilan (inker)
Colorist: Matt Hollingsworth
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Cover Artists: Leinil Francis Yu, Matt Hollingsworth
Editor: Wil Moss
Publisher: Marvel Entertainment
Marvel’s latest crossover event War of the Realms is currently in the midst of its second act, and with that comes yet another tie-in — this week, in the form of War of the Realms Strikeforce: The Dark Elf Realm #1 (a mouthful of a title, truly).
The first of three one-shots focused on various factions assembling in the fight against Malekith’s invasion of Earth, this one covers Lady Freyja’s attempt to recruit a team. Namely, one that’ll help her destroy the Black Bridge, a corrupted form of the Bifrost. Knowing it’ll feed on their worst fears, she calls some of the Marvel Universe’s steeliest heroes: She-Hulk, Blade, Ghost Rider (Robbie Reyes), and The Punisher. It’s an unexpected cast that actually makes quite a bit of sense considering the mission, given how they’ve all dealt with fear and trauma more than most.
(It also helps that the former three are all currently serving as mainline Avengers at the moment, with Frank a lone-wolf wild-card as ever.)
As the third War of the Realms tie-in I’ve reviewed — Journey Into Mystery and The Punisher being the others — this one feels the least essential, if only in terms of how little it moves the story forward or adds a new perspective to things. While I love a good “getting the band together” issue of a superhero comic (Avengers #221, wherein Shulkie joins Earth’s Mightiest Heroes for the first time, is one of my favorite issues of anything!) this one feels extraneous by the virtue of it being a tie-in and not part of the core series. The end of the issue tells us Team Freyja will return in War of the Realms #4, which will presumably provide enough context for this lineup for those only sticking to that title, begging the question here: why?
To the creative team’s credit, Strikeforce: The Dark Elf Realm is handsomely produced. Writer Bryan Hill (recently of DC’s Wildstorm: Michael Cray) has covered similar ground before and is particularly good with character work —perhaps at the expense of plot in this instance — while penciler Leinil Francis Yu is one of the industry’s greats, delivering beautiful visuals for Hill’s script (Yu is joined here by inker Gerry Alanguilan, his collaborator on Ta-Nehisi Coates’s current Captain America run).
Rounding out the team is Matt Hollingsworth, whose vibrant color palette keeps in line with Matthew Wilson’s on the main War of the Realms title, making for some nice visual consistency, even though Yu’s style doesn’t resemble Russell Dauterman’s in the slightest. It’s easy to overlook the importance of coloring throughout a major crossover event like this, but this is a clear case of how much it can make a difference in helping disparate titles feel alike.