Monday, December 5, 2011

Annihilation Book One Hardcover Review

Annihilation Vol. 1
Marvel Comics
Oversized Hardcover
256 pages
$29.99 (2006)
$24.99 (2007) TPB
ISBN 9780785125112

Contributors: Keith Giffen, Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Mitch Breitweiser, Scott Kolins, Kev Walker, Rick Magyar, Ariel Olivetti, June Chung, Brian Reber, Cory Petit, and covers by Gabriele Dell'Otto

Reprints: Drax the Destroyer #1-4 (of 4), Annihilation Prologue, and Annihilation: Nova #1-4 (of 4)

New Drax has tattoos

Synopsis: The Annihilation Wave has broken through from the Negative Zone to our universe and threatens to destroy everything in its path.  None are safe as Annihilus, long-time foe of the Fantastic Four and possessor of the Cosmic Control Rod, unleashes his ruthless armada to scour the cosmos of life.

Prior to these events we catch up with Drax the Destroyer, falsely sentenced and en route to the Kyln, a galactic prison at the edge of known space.  He's an ultra-powerful, but brain-damaged brute.  His prison transport crash lands on Earth releasing the Blood Brothers, Lunatik, and Paibok the Power-Skrull. The apparently dead Drax undergoes a strange transformation into a new, deadlier form.  

The Annihilation Wave smashes through the Kyln, emanating outward and razing all inhabited planets in its path.  It reaches Xandar, the home planet of the Nova Centurions who are an intergalactic peacekeeping force.  Among them is Richard Rider, the superhero known as Nova from Earth.  The combined might of the Nova Centurions is no match for the invaders and seemingly everyone dies in a brutally epic battle.

Hadouken!

Richard Rider is the only surviving Nova Corps member and stands amid the ashes of Xandar.  He is awakened by the Worldmind, an artificial intelligence housing the combined knowledge of the now-extinct Xandarian race and the source of the Nova Force.  In order to protect and preserve the Worldmind, Nova must download it into his body - meaning he now possesses the combined might of the entire Nova Corps. 

The strain is almost too much for him to bear, but he is helped by Drax who was on Xandar after being recovered from Earth. Ultimate power proves too tempting as Nova attempts to kill Annihilus with the help of Quasar, who possesses the Quantum Bands. Can the two Earth heroes save the universe from Annihilus, known as "The Death That Walks"?

Meanwhile in Kree space, Ronan the Accuser is arrested for treason, the Silver Surfer senses the infestation of the Annihilation Wave and moves to investigate, and the Super-Skrull learns the Wave is heading for Skrull space.

Millions of sentient beings die horribly as the Annihilation Wave tears through the universe.  Can anyone stop this wholesale slaughter?

Pros: Phenomenal covers by Dell'Otto, epic interstellar battles, great writing by Giffen and Abnett/Lanning (best known for their DC work on Legion of Super-Heroes and Justice League), Drax the Destroyer gets a nice revamp, the art is good, Nova gets a major power up, Quasar even looks good, Annihilus is one serious villain, suitably brutal and epic

Cons: Walker's art is the weak link (although still pretty good), not much else

Mike Tells It Straight: Marvel's cosmic characters finally get the treatment they deserve - interstellar death battles and hopeless destruction!  Not since the Infinity Gauntlet has the cosmic status quo been shaken up this much.  Giffen, Abnett, and Lanning are prolific DC writers and they breathe new life into a stagnant Marvel space landscape.  It becomes instantly apparent that anything goes and no one is safe!

When did Quasar become a badass?
The first story gives Drax a much-needed revamp - he spent over a decade as a brutish dolt at the hands of Jim Starlin and I literally hated the character.  Giffen skillfully handles his rebirth.  Next we're introduced to the heart-pounding terror of the Annihilation Wave and screaming death of the Nova Corps.  I loved Nova's naive bravado as absolute tragedy descended around him.  His story reminded me of those "choose your own adventure" books from the '80s and really stayed true to his hot-head nature.  He's elevated to truly cosmic status.

Annihilation was published during Marvel's Civil War (the superhuman registration act splits the heroes right down the middle, Captain America vs. Iron Man) storyline and lost some of the attention it deserved.  I found this set of stories electrifying and edge of your seat - great start to an epic space opera! 

TO BUY and Recommendations: