If you’ve ever gone on a road trip you know you’ll find adventure at every turn. It’s partly why the War of the Realms tie-in series Journey Into Mystery is so damn fun. The five-issue miniseries by the McElroys and André Lima Araújo is filled with surprising turns and, more importantly, incredibly well-written characters. It’s an eclectic bunch and they’re the babysitters of a baby that’s way harder to take care of than any human.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
The creators of the blockbuster podcast The Adventure Zone bring their talents to Marvel for a wild romp through THE WAR OF THE REALMS! Earth is at war, besieged by an army of Frost Giants, Trolls and Fire Goblins – and the mighty Thor is nowhere to be found! But could it be that the key to turning the tide is…Thor’s baby sister? Journey into Mystery with Spider-Man (Miles Morales), Hawkeye (Kate Bishop), Wonder Man, and Balder the Brave as they go on an epic quest to save Earth’s only hope! (And, yes, deal with diaper duty.)
Why does this matter?
Check out the lineup of characters hitting the road in an RV above and you’re bound to find one you love. This is a great cast of characters and their mission is domestic enough that we can all relate even if it means being chased down by aliens and the god of war. For many, that’s just Tuesday!
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
The plotting for this series is top-notch stuff. Each issue offers a different scenario for this ragtag team to overcome making the book feel very episodic and new in each chapter. The first issue is all about getting the team together and setting up the god of war on his chase to capture the baby, followed by an RV camping experience, an encounter with superhero western characters, a convention, and finally a big climactic battle with the god of war. You can also tell a lot of planning went into the series thanks to the focus on each hero feeling quite equal (Hawkeye gets moments to shine, Miles too, and it’s fun to see each one get a moment in the sun). For a team book that’s key and surprisingly many don’t manage to capture the heart and purpose of all the team members.
The McElroys’ take on each of these characters is delectably offbeat, too. Miles is young so a bit goofy, Wonder Man is a pacifist and also coming off a so-so acting career, Sebastian Druid is hilarious as a so-so sorcerer supreme, and Thori is his always hilarious dog self. The book is very funny at times and it’s hard not to crack a smile by simply looking at them due to the great dynamic the team has throughout.
I’ve always been a fan of Araújo’s work and his pencils are excellent here. There’s a fine line to everything that harnesses detail and makes this a nearly tactile experience. Colors by Chris O’Halloran and letters by Clayton Cowles help focus your attention on the character which is already well-placed thanks to Araújo’s great facial expressions. There’s a fantastic double-page spread in the western chapter that explores the space very well in an action sequence using every hero. On top of all this, there are two reactions from characters that’ll have you laughing out loud.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
Not every joke will land for everyone. A baby poop joke runs on too long, for instance, and references can get a bit obscure. I also had issues with the ending which feels anticlimactic given the build-up to the god of war and the fact he seems to be unhinged for most of the narrative only for him to change his mind in the end. There’s an army gathered at the end that doesn’t quite make sense either, but maybe it connects to the main event and I’m not seeing it? Either way that also seems like an unearned surprising turn.
Is it good?
A sometimes hilarious, always visually interesting, and a delectably offbeat “War of the Realms” tie-in. It’s so good on its own terms you can enjoy this without even reading the event.
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