Friday, April 11, 2008

Annihilation: Book One

Keith Giffen, Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Mitch Breitweiser, Scott Kolins & Kev Walker

Annihilation is a big cosmic crossover that includes several mini-series and many galactic characters of the Marvel Universe, including The Silver Surfer, Galactus and those pesky skrulls. Included in this first of three books collecting the entirety of the first Annihilation crossover are Annihilation: Drax the Destroyer #1-4, Annihilation Prologue, and Annihilation: Nova #1-4. I'd heard that this was a pretty good crossover from Marvel, and since I'm digging the beginning of Secret Invasion, I thought I would go back and check this one out too. And it hasn't disappointed so far.

Annihilation: Drax the Destroyer follows a maximum security spaceship that is transporting superpowered beings across the galaxy to an intergalactic prison which, of course, malfunctions, allowing several of the beings to crash land on Earth, including Drax the Destroyer. Now Drax hasn't been himself lately. He's been a little out of it, confused and...well, crazy and dumb. And it takes him a little while to come out of his stupor. As he comes to find himself, his fellow cosmic villains, The Blood Brothers, Lunatik and the skrull Paibok, have taken over a small town in Alaska to help with repairs to get them back into space. Under the guidance of a sassy teenager named Cammi, Drax bests his comrades and frees the town from their oppressors, whisking Cammi away with him to another prison ship, becoming a sort of guardian to the girl. That's where the mini-series ends, to be followed up abruptly in the Annihilation Prologue. I liked Mitch Breitweiser's art on the series, though it did feel stiff at times. I like the realistic art and it seemed to flow really well, making for a much better story than I expected going in. Cammi seemed like she would be a little annoying upon her first introduction, but she quickly grew on me and I began to look forward to her subsequent sarcastic remarks and blatant observations, especially as Annihilation moved along. It's kind of strange that this entire mini-series took place prior to any of the events of Annihilation itself, but it gave some much-needed backstory to Cammi's involvement with Drax and perhaps other related events that will be followed up.

Sandwiched between the two four issue mini-series of this first volume of Annihilation is the Annihilation Prologue, which sees the Nova Corps go up against one of the initial waves of Annihilation, a swarm of aliens and ships that easily overtake anything in their path. The hundreds upon hundreds of individuals that make up the Nova Corps are quickly wiped out, leaving behind only Richard Rider, Nova, badly injured among the corpses of his comrades. And it is here that the face of the enemy is revealed, one that I should have guessed all along, given the title of the series: Annihilus, fresh from The Negative Zone. While I found Scott Kolins's art to be the weakest of the book, it was competent enough to paint the events of Annihilation Day with clarity, as chaotic as the events proved to be.

The final mini-series of this initial volume of Annihilation is Annihilation: Nova. Immediately picking up where the Annihilation Prologue left off, Richard Rider awakens alone to find himself the lone survivor of the Nova Corps, and is guided by the Xandarian Worldmind to its location so that Rider can absorb the power of the entire Nova Corps into himself along with the knowledge of the destoryed civilization Xandar. Wielding much more power than before, Nova aides Drax the Destroyer and Cammi as they attempt to leave Xandar, while he attempts to control his overwhelming power as he utilizes it against the Annihilation wave. Quasar soon comes into the picture and together, they target Annihilus himself, who is all too happy to confront them, killing Quasar for the energy that his Quantum Bands offer, but fooled by Nova into destroying part of his fleet, allowing Nova to flee. The book ends with Nova expressing his interest in Drax to teach him how to destroy.

That's a lot of plot, but it really plays out very well. Each of the series involved so far have their own story and feel to them, but weave pretty seamlessly together to create an interesting overlying arch. I'm excited to see where the series goes and am in agreement with the overall consensus of this crossover that it's pretty damn good. So far.

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