By: Brandon Montclare (writer), Michael William Kaluta (art), Brad Anderson, Nathan Eyring & Jim Charlampidis (colors), Jared Fletcher (letters) & Mark Paniccia (editor)

The Story: The Chaos King turns his sights on new targets including Zenn-la, Earth & the devil himself.

What’s Good: Holy cow can Mr. Kaluta draw!  That isn’t exactly a news flash, but I’d had a bad experience with my Chaos War tie-in last week and had considered avoiding the tie-ins this week until I saw that Kaluta was drawing this issue.  With his name attached, I almost cease to care what the story is because I’m willing to plunk down my $3.99 to buy it as a picture book.  There aren’t many artists who hit that level of excellence and virtually none who work in modern monthly comics (JH Williams, III is the closest).

This story is very much written to Kaluta’s strengths.  He really excels at large spreads showing godly or demonic images where you have swirling mists or flames and angels/demons swooping about.  I can’t emphasize enough how visually stunning the comic is.  This review is actually taking an overly long time to write because I keep flipping through the issue again to marvel at the pretty pictures.  Just buy it!

The story is almost incidental (for me).  But, it does what event tie-ins should.  It adds extra flavor to the event without being required reading.  The second and third parts of the story where the Chaos King encounters Impossible Man (which is an interesting concept) and the devil are much stronger than the first chapter.

What’s Not So Good: The story itself didn’t do much to jazz me up.  It is really wordy in places and doesn’t do a very good job of explaining who some of these characters are. I was also irritated that these big word bubbles were covering up art.  But to some extent, I think that this story probably had an odd genesis.  Marvel probably had a chance to work with Kaluta and structured a story to fit his artistic style, so it seems a little unfair to pile on the script.  To put it another way, they were not going to push the script for Chaos War: Thor #1 in front of him and just say “draw it art-boy” like they would with many other artists.  So the script get’s a bit of a pass in my book for being written (probably) under unusual circumstances.

You’ll also see a random complaint about how Kaluta isn’t at his best drawing superheroes.  That’s probably true, but superheroes aren’t a focus of this book and the guy isn’t trying to sell himself as a man who draws 22 pages per month of men in spandex.

Conclusion: Any time you get a chance to buy a 30-page comic drawn by Mr. Kaluta you should jump on it.  I always scoff at folks who grade the “story” and the “art” separately, but Kaluta is one of the very, very few artists who can single-handedly make the story almost irrelevant.  We also should be rewarding Marvel for hiring the guy and voting with our money that we want more of this in the future.  It would be supercool if we could get one Kaluta event tie-in for each event.  This comic can’t get an A, but with average comic art we’d be looking at a below average comic.

Grade: B+

– Dean Stell