Thursday, April 24, 2008

Annihilation: Book Two

Keith Giffen, Javier Grillo-Marxuach, Simon Furman, Renato Arlem, Gregory Titus & Jorge Lucas
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I really enjoyed the beginning of Annihilation with Book One of the maxi-series, and just finished the second book, which collects the remaining mini-series focusing on individual cosmic beings, leading up to the material collected in Book Three, which is the Annihilation mini-series itself. There are three mini-series in Book Two, starring Silver Surfer, Super Skrull and Ronan the Accuser.
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Annihilation: Silver Surfer introduces the concept that Annihilus is seeking the former heralds of Galactus to feed upon their cosmic power. We saw him feed off of Nova and Quasar in the Annihilation: Nova limited series, and this just goes one step farther, as Annihilus sends out Seekers to bring the beings to him, characters including Terrax, Firelord, The Fallen One, Morg, Air-Walker and, of course, the most famous herald of all, Silver Surfer. Ultimately, the Seekers look into bringing Galactus himself in to Annihilus to sate his hunger for power. Luckily, Galactus and Silver Surfer form an alliance. This series was by Keith Giffen and Renato Arlem and while a little slow at times, it was fun, with good ideas, and some nice art.
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Annihilation: Super Skrull was written by Javier Grillo-Marxuach, and illustrated by Gregory Titus. Together with a young skrull engineer R'Kin, the Super Skrull Kl'rt sets out to destroy the Annihilation Wave's latest weapon that reduces planets to basic power upon which they can feed, the Harvester of Sorrows, and that same weapon is headed for Zaragz'Na, where he has a son. Upon learning who created the weapon, Kl'rt travels to a prison planet in The Negative Zone and tortures the engineer for information to destroy it, thus acquiring a virus. While invading the prison planet, Kl'rt also assembles a band of prisoners to aide him in his cause. Things don't go as planned, however, as R'Kin betrays them and doesn't deliver the virus to them in time, handing them to the Annihilation Wave and letting Zaragz'Na be destroyed. Kl'rt eventually escapes the hands of his oppressors and with the help of his remaining followers, gets revenge on the traitor and destroys the Harvester of Sorrows. Of all of the series I've read during the Annihilation event so far, I have to say that the cartoony art of this book was not only very different from the other titles, but also probably the weakest. Not horrible, just unspectacular, which stood out as the rest of the books have had some pretty fantastic art. The story was interesting, but I was about ready for it to end when it did.
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The final mini-series collected in this volume is Annihilation: Ronan, featuring Ronan the Accuser, who has been exiled from the Kree Empire after a witness gave false testimony at a trial. Ronan seeks redemption and tries to find the witness, Tana Nile. During his quest, he stops by the planet Godthab Omega, where other Kree exiles have settled into hiding, and are fighting over territory with the Graces, a group of superpowered women headed by Gamora, and whose ranks include Tana Nile. There's a subplot of a being, Glorian, who can rebuild a ravaged world with enough energy, and instigates a fight between Ronan and Gamora to use the run-off energy to shape Godthab Omega anew. Unfortunately, this also draws the attention of the Annihilation Wave, and before long, his brand new world is destroyed by them. Meanwhile, Ronan and Gamora realize that they've been manipulated and protect their own. The resulting battle ends with this particular faction of the annihilation wave destroyed by the world-shaper Glorian, at the cost of his mind. And Tana Nile dies before giving the name of the man who ordered Ronan framed. Gamora and Ronan agree to seek vengeance for their fallen comrade and the information that Ronan was unable to obtain due to the Annihilation Wave's involvement. I wasn't really looking forward to reading this mini-series when I got to it, but like Annihilation: Drax the Destroyer, it was a pleasant surprise for a throw-away character, perhaps my favorite of the entire series thus far. Jorge Lucas's art really stood out for me. It was different and neat-looking and, ultimately, quite pretty. I was surprised to see some characters that I haven't seen for awhile among the Graces, including Nebula, who I don't think I've ever actually read a comic with, but I remember her Marvel Universe trading card from when I was little. Also, very nice to see Cerise. She didn't get as much face-time as I would have liked but, as a fan of Excalibur, it was still a pleasant cameo.
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Overall, this was a very strong second installment in the Annihilation series. I'm really quite impressed with the series as it stands. Even Annihilation: Super Skrull, which was my least favorite of the books, was much better than many offerings on the stands these days. It's all served to make me really excited to read the final installment, the culmination of all of these events.

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