By Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning (writers), Leonardo Marco & Mahmud Asrar (artists), Bruno Hang (colorist)

The Story: What lies beyond The Fault? It’s an answer Marvel’s cosmic heroes have wanted to know ever since the war between Black Bolt and his Inhumans and the mutant Vulcan came to its tragic conclusion. Quasar, newly resurrected and desperate to prove his worth to his colleagues, has offered to delve into the tear in time and space to find out what lies on the other side, but what he finds there threatens to consume the entire Marvel Universe.

The Good: Readers will know that lately I’ve been taking a long overdue interest in Marvel’s cosmic heroes, and since I’ve missed the previous storylines set in this corner of the Marvel universe, I’ve decided now’s as good a time as any to jump on the rollercoaster and fully experience what so many other critics have been buzzing about for years now. I’m glad I’m starting here, because this issue has set the stage for a truly epic, terrifying story. Abnett and Lanning have masterful control over this little corner of Marvel’s universe, and it shows in the tight, interlocking arcs they are weaving together. From Annihilation right on through War of Kings, each story feels like a natural extension of the one that came before and not just another overly-marketed gimmick. These guys have literally rebuilt the universe from the ground up and it shows with the rich characterization and intricate plots they have developed. Quasar rings true as a devastatingly powerful hero struggling to earn his role as the guardian of the universe right at a time when it is most threatened, and the confidence with which he handles himself on the other side of The Fault reminds us why it remains a role he was born for. As for what lies beyond The Fault, I’m choosing not to comment because I don’t want to spoil the surprise, except to say the eerie combination of Lovecraftian horror and traditional superheroes is a delight and something I sincerely hope to see more of even after this storyline concludes.

The Not So Good: Nothing that won’t spoil your reading experience. This issue is primarily set up and exposition for the storyline proper, but I swear you’ll be so freaked out and have such a good time following Quasar’s journey (and I never thought I’d be saying that about a man named Wendell Vaughn) that you’ll hardly notice, and if anything want just a few more pages to see what happens next.

Conclusion: In a year highlighted by shockingly mediocre storylines, I feel like Marvel may have finally struck gold with Realm of Kings, and I’m really excited to see what happens next.

Grade: A-

-Tony Rakittke