Marvel Comics released a massive crossover event in 2006, one that changed the landscape, made older characters more prominent, and ended up influencing some popular movies in the MCU.
I’m talking about Annihilation, a space-based epic that came out around the same time as the original Civil War. I’m not fan of Civil War but had heard good things about Annihilation.
As it is, the story was big enough to split into two rather thick trades. I’ve finished both, but this post will only cover the first one. The second one will be covered at this time tomorrow.
Annihilation originally had something of an interesting set-up. After a prologue issue that showed the arrival of the Annihilation Wave and its devastating affect on cosmic police force the Nova Corps., the series instead went into four mini-series before going back to the original main story. Those four minis–Nova, Silver Surfer, Super-Skrull, and Ronan–established the setting and how individual space-based characters are dealing with the threat of the Annihilation Wave, led by the mega-genocidal hive mind leader Annihilus.
Anyway, the first volume starts with a Drax the Destroyer mini-series that remade the character into the smaller, less powerful, and smarter guy with the dual daggers that fans are more likely to recognize today. The rest of this book contains the Prologue, plus the Nova, Silver Surfer, and Super-Skrull mini-series.
So, what do we have here? Well, most of the book (and most of the next one) were written by Keith Giffen, and Giffen does a good job of not only dredging up a lot of largely at-the-time forgotten Marvel cosmic characters, modernizing them, and then, most importantly, making a real threat out of a second string Fantastic Four villain. A reader might assume, for example, that Annihilus wouldn’t have an answer to the various space gods, like Galactus and his various heralds, but that is not the case. He does. And it helps that Annihilus, whatever he’s planning, came out of the Negative Zone at a time when the Skrulls were a squabbling bunch of bickering warlords, the Kree have been taken over by a merchant guild that doesn’t see the point in the traditional militarism, various other alien races are sitting it out, and the human heroes are fighting a civil war (yes, that is mentioned multiple times). That basically means it’s up to whatever Earth’s Nova, Rich Rider, can bring together to stop a giant hive mind that is basically killing everything in its path, especially as it seems interested in collecting anyone with the Power Cosmic.
So, as it was, the Drax story was a little bit muddled, showing to me why Giffen had others writing dialogue for him on many of his earlier projects, but it does show how Drax changed to what he is now and got back into space to do what he was literally created to do (yes, you can’t have a story this big in space without Thanos playing a role). The Prologue gives weight to the threat, and the Nova and Silver Surfer series both continued the story in interesting ways. It helps that Giffen wrote Silver Surfer and Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, the guys who would revitalize Guardians of the Galaxy, took care of Nova. The weakest story in Volume One after the Drax prologue is easily Super-Skrull, a fairly generic superhero story featuring a character who is usually the bad guy. It’s also the only story after Drax goes back into space to have even a single moment on Earth, so make of that what you will.
As it is, I found the first half or so of the story rather riveting, and it was certainly better than Civil War. Maybe because it actually seemed to treat its heroes as heroes and kept them with their own distinct personalities rather than just make them a bunch of belligerent assholes. As for Part One, let’s say 8.5 out of 10 treacherous superiors.