The cover title is rather misleading, suggesting Spider-Man and Daredevil team-up for this War of the Realms tie-in, when the paperback actually combines two separate stories.

Spider-Man’s participation is a little further on in the continuity from his Strikeforce appearance, and he’s leading a team of characters from other realms on a mission in Nigeria, where an angel and her forces have occupied Lagos. Sean Ryan plays the opening section as comedy, with representatives of five mythical realms accompanying Spider-Man, who can’t be bothered to remember their complicated names. The plot takes rather a nasty turn in the second chapter as Malekith makes his presence known, but there’s not much to the Spider-Man story, and too much of it is what’s needed to make the plot work rather than the way even mysterious beings beyond our ken would behave. Would they really shift allegiance after a right and wrong pep talk after having dutifully followed orders until then (albeit that’s also unlikely given the circumstances)? The major villain of the third chapter has an impressively sadistic secret, and the conclusion is nice, but it’s long way arriving there.

Nico Leon’s art has the simplicity of old animation, and the flat two-dimensional quality of it as well. It just about tells the story, but is a wasted opportunity given the visual possibilities. Let’s give Marco Failla the benefit of the doubt over the last few pages, and assume he’s just keeping the look consistent. Making them both look bad is being in the same publication as Andrea Sorrentino’s Daredevil story. He only draws a third the amount of pages, but they’re extraordinary, design led and meticulously composed, yet also oozing personality in places. Matthew Wilson’s muted colours are also very effective.

Jason Aaron’s Daredevil plot is great, a face-off against the Kingpin with both parties as not seen before, and that’s just the appetiser. That and the art would be good enough, but there’s a lot more to recommend. Aaron makes good use of Daredevil’s religious beliefs, drops nicely back to the past to open a couple of chapters, and the entire piece reveals a lot about Daredevil. Aaron and Sorrentino craft something that’s not far short of five star material, and certainly enough to make this an essential purchase when the price drops.