Realm of Kings (2009-2010) Reading Order

The WAR OF KINGS is over, but the universe itself is literally scarred. Black Bolt’s plan to weaponise the Terrigen Mists against Vulcan and the Shi’ar failed, but the detonation of the Terrigen Bomb has torn a colossal rift in the fabric in time and space. Both the Shi’ar and the Kree-ruled Inhumans have chosen new rulers – Gladiator and Medusa, respectively – to replace their fallen masters, but how will they decide to deal with the Fault?

But these aren’t the only players on the board. Star-Lord’s Guardians of the Galaxy intend investigating the Fault their way, and the Nova Corps – now based on the mobile living planet, Ego – must investigate the assassination of former-Shi’ar Majestrix Lilandra Neramani. But they how no idea what horrors lurk within the Fault and how it may doom them all…

Related Events: Picking up the threads from the War of Kings event, the one-shot, three mini-series and the tie-in issues of Marvel’s two cosmic ongoing titles can all be read separately. But, read together, you’ll see how these related events will impact the Marvel Universe in the build-up to ‘The Thanos Imperative’.

Must Reads: Story arcs marked with a ✔are must-read stories from this time period, along with any key related stories and often-forgotten tales that are worth a read.

When an issue contains multiple stories, the relevant story is denoted with square brackets. For example [2/5] refers to the second story of the five stories in that issue, so you don’t need to read the other four

Previous events that directly impact this story:

Want to keep it simple? Here’s the chronological reading order without story descriptions, or spoilers:

  • Nova #29-30 (tie-in)
  • Realm of Kings #1
  • Realm of Kings: Imperial Guard #1-3
  • Nova #31 (tie-in)
  • Nova #32-35
  • Guardians of the Galaxy #20 -22
  •      Realm of Kings: Inhumans #1-4
  • Realm of Kings: Imperial Guard #4
  •      Realm of Kings: Inhumans #5
  • Realm of Kings: Imperial Guard #5
  •      Realm of Kings: Son of Hulk #1-4
  • Guardians of the Galaxy #23-24

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Must ReadsTitle, Issue Number & Synopsis
Nova #29 (tie-in)
Nova Prime (Rich Rider, normally just referred to as Nova) and the Nova Corps investigate the ghost ship – the Resolute Duty – that has emerged from the Fault. It’s pilot, Nova Corps member Zan Philo, become lost in space after stargate accident 35 years ago, with gang boss The Mind as a prisoner in the hold. Bounty hunter Monark Starstalker boards the ship, wanting to claim the right to the price on the Mind’s head. At that moment, the Xandarian Worldmind loses its control over Ego as the living planet regains sentience…
Nova #30 (tie-in)
Mindless Ones board the Resolute Duty to look for their master, the Mind. Starstalker learns he’s a nanite construct and not a real man. Nova stargates the Mindless Ones into Ego’s head while the Nova Corps relocate to the Resolute Duty. Nova sees Gladiator’s call to locate and arrest Darkhawk for the murder of Lilandra Neramani
Realm of Kings #1
Nova, the Guardians of the Galaxy and Project PEGASUS representatives attend an emergency meeting. Quasar – the bearer of the Quantum Bands who is now a quantum energy being – agrees to be the first to scout inside the Fault. As he enters, Quasar is sucked into a dark reality where he suddenly gains a physical form. He discovers a warped version of Earth (Earth-10011) where a band of chthonic Revengers rip the heart from a demonic, tentacled Hulk and take Quasar prisoner. They plan to guide their masters, the Many-Angled Ones, through the Fault and into our universe. The Vision of this dark Earth helps Quasar escape, only to fly directly into the path of these Outer Gods. Quasar materialises at Project PEGASUS in physical form, but is he Earth-616’s Quasar?
Realm of Kings: Imperial Guard #1
As planets threaten to break away from the Shi’ar Empire due to the social and economic damage caused by Vulcan’s war with the Kree, they find themselves victims of the relentless Imperial Guard who shut down their respective ‘rebellions’ with deadly force. The Raptor called Talon has disguised himself as trusted Shi’ar advisor Araki and continues to consult with Emperor Gladiator. Mentor is has become the new Praetor of the Imperial Guard and selects a number of them to accompany Ch’od & Raza of the Starjammers into the Fault…
Realm of Kings: Imperial Guard #2
Data collection by robot drones sent into the Fault has been too slow. Gladiator needs potential threats assessed quickly. Flying into the Fault aboard the Starjammer, the team are attacked by a terrifying bio-organic craft. Drawn inside the once-living hulking ‘ship’, the Imperial Guard get out and learn it’s now dead. But it’s being eaten alive from the inside…
Realm of Kings: Imperial Guard #3
While Ch’od & Raza work on repairing the Starjammer, some of the Imperial Guard discuss their issues with Gladiator – their former leader – becoming Shi’ar Emperor. After narrowly avoiding consumption by a swarm of giant bug-like enzymes, the Starjammer barely escape the hulking corpse before it self-destructs. Heading deeper into the Fault, the Guard track an energy trace and find Quasar pursued by more hulking bio-ships…
Nova #31 (tie-in)
Zan Philo starts retraining the Nova Corps recruits. Nova Prime catches up with Darkhawk to find out why he’s accused of killing Lilandra Neramani. Before they can talk, they’re drawn to a distress signal and rescue a group of Kree archaeologists from the planet Shard as it’s drawn into the Fault. One archaeologist touches an amulet which transforms him into the Raptor Gyre. He immediately attacks Nova & Darkhawk. Shard is destroyed by creatures from the Fault, along with Nova, Darkhawk & Gyre…
Must ReadsTitle, Issue Number & Synopsis
Nova #32
Nova and Darkhawk find themselves in Egypt, presumably back on Earth, and get called out by Nova’s old foe, the Sphinx, to fight sand djinns with him before they all disappear. The duo find Mister Fantastic, Black Bolt and Namorita are also trapped with them. Darkhawk discerns they’re all been transported from various points in time to a magical construct, rather than Earth…
Nova #33
Mister Fantastic talks Nova out of warning his beloved Namorita of her fate (as she died alongside the New Warriors during CIVIL WAR (2006-2007)). The group are attacked by the Sphinx, escape into a pyramid and are tempted with the means to change their pasts. They meet an older Sphinx, riddled with temporal cancer who offers to use the Fault to convince his younger self to change his path. The young Sphinx brings forth Ulysses Bloodstone, Basilisk, Moonstone and Stargod and Gyre to fight as his avatars against the older Sphinx’s avatars made up of Nova and his allies…
Nova #34
The Fault defies the fundamental laws of the universe and is the only place two all-powerful Ka Stones – each one being the power source of both the older and younger Sphinx – can exist at the same time. It’s the younger Sphinx’s intention to claim them both! Nova, Darkhawk and Mister Fantastic defeat Moonstone, Gyre and Bloodstone, marking the older Sphinx as the victor. He takes control of Darkhawk who rips the Ka Stone from the younger Sphinx and gives it to him…
Nova #35
All of the remaining avatars from both sides join forces against the older Sphinx. Defying possibility, the older Sphinx consumes his past self. To defeat him, Nova casts the Sphinx into normal space where the Ka Stones can’t exist together, causing him to explode. All the avatars are transported back to their own times. Nova reaches for Namorita when the transportation activates, dragging her with him back to the present…
Guardians of the Galaxy #20
Moondragon dons a Guardians of the Galaxy uniform and joins the team, initially assisting their exploration of the Fault. Later, she mentally ‘encounters’ a twisted version of Adam Warlock’s cocoon. The Luminals own efforts to explore the Fault from the Knowhere station go horrifically wrong and a parasitic xenoform transforms Massdriver into a rampaging monstrous form…
Guardians of the Galaxy #21
While Moondragon tries to contain the xenoform, the rest of the Guardians attempt to push back the members of the Universal Church of Truth who think it’s a divine entity. When it tries to take Cynosure as its next host, Moondragon takes that bullet for her. As the creature’s host, Moondragon can sense the its origin point from the ‘Cancerverse’ on the other side of the Fault. Drax fails to stop the Universal Church’s Matriarch from kidnapping Moondragon…
Guardians of the Galaxy #22
The Guardians stage a bold rescue mission, freeing Moondragon from the Universal Church on Orison. The team join forces with the Luminals while Rocket Racoon figures out how to pilot Knowhere like a ship! Later, Moondragon safely ejects the xenoform which is blasted back into the Fault. The Matriarch reports back to Sacrosanct, homeworld of the Universal Church of Truth, where Adam Warlock – now Adam Magus – is very much alive and holds Cosmo, Gamora, Major Victory, Mantis & Martyr captive.
Must ReadsTitle, Issue Number & Synopsis
Realm of Kings: Inhumans #1
The Inhumans continue to hold their territory following the Kree-Shi’ar War, despite Blastaar’s forces attempting to stake their claim. Karnak warns Medusa that the Kree aristocracy hate the ruling Inhuman Royal Family, even though the general Kree population love them. Medusa sends Triton & Ra-Venn on a mission to locate the missing Black Bolt in the Fault. Medusa only intends holding the throne until her son, Ahura, is old enough to take it. Crystal & Ronan the Accuser find out the Alpha Privatives have been driven feral. And Devos the Devastator leads an attack on the Inhuman city of Attilan, only for the Mighty Avengers to unexpectedly come to their aid…
Realm of Kings: Inhumans #2
Devos opposes war by destroying those who cause it. Crystal’s ex-husband, Quicksilver, takes down the Alpha Primitives while his fellow Avengers help the Inhumans defeat Devos. Quicksilver realises Crystal is now married to Ronan. He offers up the Xerogen Crystals the Avengers recently obtained (during DARK REIGN (2008-2010)) to replace the ones he stole (during DECIMATION (2006)). Elsewhere, the Kree Lord Zarek and Dr Vere continue their plan to weaponise the Alpha Primitives against the Inhumans. In the Fault, Ra-Venn thinks she’s picked up Black Bolt’s voice…
Realm of Kings: Inhumans #3
Much time has passed within the Fault, as Ra-Venn, Triton and their crew find part of Black Bolt’s Terrigen-Bomb ship and a sonic mirage that momentarily makes them think Black Bolt is with them. On Hala, Ronan & Crystal locate and shut down Zarek’s operation, only to discover Maximus was behind it all along…
Realm of Kings: Inhumans #4
Gorgon, Crystal & Ronan go to confront Maximus, but are instead faced with the gigantic Omega android (last seen during THE WEDDING OF CRYSTAL & QUICKSILVER (1974)) and a Chorus Sentry. Crystal disrupts Maximus’ attempt to mentally coerce Ronan by kissing her husband for the first time. Before Gorgon can hurt Maximus, Medusa appears and explains he’s been following her orders. In the Fault, those who came in contact with Black Bolt’s ship begin to mutate…
Realm of Kings: Imperial Guard #4
Gladiator receives a distress signal from the Imperial Guard in the Fault via the M’kraan Crystal. Less time has passed in the Fault, with the Imperial Guard fighting for their lives against the behemoths while the Starjammer is stranded again. Mentor realised ‘Smasher’ is a traitor and he reveals himself to be Talon who has found two more Raptor Amulets in the Fault. The ship is attacked by Ex-Men – the mutants of the Cancerverse – who kill Starbolt. Just as the largest ship is about to consume the Starjammer, Gladiator rips through it…
Realm of Kings: Inhumans #5
Medusa asked Maximus to engineer attacks on the Kree to prove the Inhumans are needed. But when Triton’s ship crashes into Attilan, no one’s sure if Medusa planned it. The Kree crew – including Ra-Venn – have merged into a monstrous, rampaging tentacled creature. Triton and the Inhuman crew were unaffected. Medusa’s Chorus Sentries slay the creature, which she uses to win favour with the Kree. But the Inhuman Royal Family no longer trust her. She physically punishes Gorgon for questioning her. Gladiator calls for a meeting with Medusa over similar discoveries in the Fault…
Realm of Kings: Imperial Guard #5
Gladiator leads a squad of Imperial Guard through the M’kraan Crystal to the Starjammer and join the fight against the Ex-Men. Talon talks his way out of death at Gladiator’s hands over Lilandra’s assassination and offers up the Raptor Amulets. Mentor & Plutonia accept them, permanently becoming Raptors to save the Guard. The rest of the troops escape the Fault despite the Charles Xavier-creature’s best efforts to eat their minds as they fire the Symbiote that once attached to Raza to subdue it. They return late for a meeting with Medusa and reveal the horrors of what’s inside the Fault to her, strengthening their resolve as allies.
Must ReadsTitle, Issue Number & Synopsis
Realm of Kings: Son of Hulk #1
Hiro-Kala seeks his brother, Skaar, in order to destroy the last of the Old Power – a corrupted version of the Power Cosmic that resides within him. As he stands before the Fault, Hiro-Kala is magically teleported to K’ai in the Microverse by Jarella’s niece, Jentorra. She was seeking the Hulk’s help against a Psyklop invasion, but has instead summoned his son, Hiro-Kala. Not understanding what brought him there, Hiro-Kala wipes out a Psyklop army anyway. Elsewhere in the Microverse, Arcturus Rann of the Micronauts is terminally ill from radiation poisoning, not that Marionette seems to care…
Realm of Kings: Son of Hulk #2
Hiro-Kala announces himself as the son of the Hulk, the former king of K’ai, which immediately earns him worshippers. Arcturus Rann, Marrionette & Carl (a Death’s Head cyborg) land on K’ai expecting Psyklop trouble, but find they’ve largely been wiped out by Hiro-Kala who’s been joined by Axeman Bone, Lihla and their fellow Sakaarans on the world’s surface. Lihla shares her feelings for Hiro-Kala, only for him to present a vision of his destructive destiny and shared doom with her.
Realm of Kings: Son of Hulk #3
Axeman Bone faces Marionette in combat, though she only barely survives thanks to Carl. Jentorra fails to assassinate Hiro-Kala with the Enigma Force Nullifier. The Enigma Force itself begins communicating with the dying Arcturus Rann. Hiro-Kala creates an armada using his New Power
Realm of Kings: Son of Hulk #4
Arcturus Rann is granted the power of the Enigma Force Nullifier and uses it to strike down Hiro-Kala, activating its ability to change the history of the Microverse and channels it into an attack on the son of Hulk. Hiro-Kala escapes by teleporting K’ai and his armada out of the Nullifier’s range. He then snaps Lilha’s neck. The Micronauts – now called the Enigma Force – escape aboard their ship and look to expand their numbers to take down Hiro-Kala…
Guardians of the Galaxy #23
Adam Magus was outgunned when Star-Lord returned to the present day to face him (during WAR OF KINGS (2009)), so he altered Star-Lord’s perception to make him believe he’d killed Magus. Now, Martyr and her friends are his prisoners. Adam Magus tells Martyr his plan to bring the deathless life offered by the Cancerverse to this reality. As assassin launches bio-weapons into the first meeting of the new Galactic Council. Martyr mentally contacts Moondragon, telling her Adam Magus is alive. Martyr then frees Cosmo, Gamora, Mantis & Major Victory and they prepare to fight back…
Guardians of the Galaxy #24
On Ovar, the Guardians of the Galaxy protect Crystal, Blastaar and the other Galactic Council delegates from the attacking bio-creatures. They win a seat at the Council by swearing in Groot, the King of Planet X. On Sacrosanct, Marytr and her friends fight their way through the Universal Church of Truth. Maelstrom appears to Martyr and takes her to the twisted Warlock cocoon, only for Thanos to burst forth from it and immediately kill her…

Must ReadsIssue & FalloutEvent / Crossover
One Month to Live #3 (2010)
Ego the Living Planet is next seen; Ego is now free of the Mindless Ones in his brain, but instead is infected with a cosmic parasite; Ego’s rampage is ended by the Fantastic Four and Flux.
Incredible Hulk #609-611 (2010)
Hiro-Kala flies K’ai through space with Earth as his destination; Axeman Bone seeks revenge on Hiro-Kala over the death of his daughter, Lihla.

Incredible Hulks Enigma Force #1-3 (2011-2012)
The newly-named Enigma Force pursue Hiro-Kala across the cosmos; Arcturus Rann’s sickness is resolved.

Incredible Hulks #612-617 (2010-2011)
Hiro-Kala meets his destiny when he faces his father, the Hulk, in a climactic final battle; K’ai establishes a new place in the universe.
Wolverine: The Best There Is #7-12 (2011-2012)
Monark Starstalker next shows up on Earth, having decided to remain in Reality-616.
Guardians of the Galaxy #25 (2010)
The Guardians learn Martyr was the first to die at the hands of the resurrected Thanos’ hands.

Nova #36 (2010)
The Cancerverse’s Quasar tries to pass himself off as the Earth-616 Quasar, bringing him into conflict with Nova.

The Thanos Imperative #1-6 (2010-2011)
Lord Mar-Vell and his Revengers lead the attack on Reality-616 to pave the way for the Cancerverse’s Many-Angled Ones; Thanos’s return is holds the key to the defeat of the Many Angled-Ones, the Revengers and other Cancerverse inhabitants.
FF #5-7 (2011)
The Inhumans return to Earth, setting Attilan up in the Himalayas again; Black Bolt is revealed to be alive, having survived his conflict with Vulcan.
Howling Commandos of SHIELD #2-5 (2016)
The Sphinx returns, very much alive and looking to raid an undead army in New York.
Infinity Countdown: Darkhawk #1-4 (2018)
Gyre returns and attempts to free his fellow Raptors from the Tree of Shadows, only to discover they’re already free; Gyre is killed by Dark Starhawk.
Fantastic Four #2-4 (2018-2019)
The parallel version of Namorita rescued by Nova is revealed to have made her way to Earth.
New Mutants #2, 7 (2020)
Gladiator passes the role of Majestor of the Shi’ar to Xandra Neramani, – daughter of Lilandra Neramani and Charles Xavier – making her Majestrix.
Guardians of the Galaxy #5 (2020)
Moondragon is defeated in battle by the Moondragon of Earth-18897 who merges with her, sharing their lives as one Moondragon; this essentially allows Moondragon to be reunited with Phyla-Vell, though it’s the Phyla of Earth-19987.
Fantastic Four: Reckoning War – Alpha #1 (2022)
The alternate Namorita is revealed to have joined Earth-616’s New Warriors.

See how this story fits into the wider Marvel Universe continuity with these reading orders:

A list of Collected Editions that bring the Realm of Kings together…

Realm of Kings

  • Realm of Kings #1
  • Realm of Kings: Imperial Guard #1-5
  • Realm of Kings: Inhumans #1-5
  • Realm of Kings: Son of Hulk #1-4

War of Kings Aftermath: Realm of Kings Omnibus

  • Annihilators #1-4
  • Annihilators: Earthfall #1-4
  • Guardians of the Galaxy #20-25
  • I am an Avengers #3 (part)
  • Nova #29-36
  • Realm of Kings #1
  • Realm of Kings: Imperial Guard #1-5
  • Realm of Kings: Inhumans #1-5
  • Realm of Kings: Son of Hulk #1-4
  • The Thanos Imperative #1-6
  • The Thanos Imperative: Devastation #1
  • The Thanos Imperative: Ignition #1
  • Thanos Sourcebook #1

Nova vol.6: Realm of Kings
Nova by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning – The Complete Collection vol.2

Both include…

  • Nova #29-36

Guardians of the Galaxy vol.4: Realm of Kings
Guardians of the Galaxy by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning Omnibus

Guardians of the Galaxy by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning – The Complete Collection vol.2

All include…

  • Guardians of the Galaxy #20-25

Reading Order ©OmniverseComicsGuide 2023

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