Friday, January 09, 2009

Annihilation: Conquest (Book One)

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The first book collecting Marvel's cosmic crossover (a sequel to the Annihilation crossover of a few years ago) collects Annihilation: Conquest - Prologue, as well as the mini-series Annihilation: Conquest - Star-Lord and Annihilation: Conquest - Quasar, both of which are four issues long.
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The prologue to this event is written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, and illustrated beautifully by Mike Perkins. These Annihilation books generally seem to be illustrated very well, by artists with realistic styles suitable to each story. The first Annihilation crossover told the story of Annihilus sweeping over the Marvel Universe, destroying anything in its path without mercy. Annihilus having been defeated, a new enemy has emerged in a vulnerable universe in the form of the Phalanx, techno-organic beings that wish to assimilate and control everything to create order. Peter Quill, the Star-Lord, is aiding the Kree at the beginning of the book to upgrade some defensive net on the Kree homeworld Hala. Connecting their supposed allies (the space knights) to the net, Quill inadvertently gives the Phalanx access to the Kree's entire system, and in one blow, the Kree are in a hell of a lot of trouble, their entire star system encased in a force field so there is no escape (and no one to come help) and much of the Kree under enemy control as new Phalanx soldiers.
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Annihilation: Conquest - Star-Lord contains one of the best superhero teams I've seen in recent memory, as Peter Quill is given a group of Kree prisoners to aid him in tracking down a bomb the Phalanx are planning to use to mass-assimilate people. I believe these people (for the most part) go on to become the new Guardians of the Galaxy in their own series, and consist of Rocket Raccoon, Mantis, Captain Universe, Bug, Deathcry and Groot. There's a great dynamic between the members of the team, and they're all visually interesting as they battle the Phalanx in interesting ways in a pretty engrossing search-and-destroy mission. This mini is written masterfully by Keith Giffen, and drawn by Timothy Green II, who does a pretty amazing, detailed job with great character designs.
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The disappointment of this collection (the first of two books collecting this crossover) is Annihilation: Conquest - Quasar. Having taken over the Quantum Bands following the original Quasar and Annihilus's deaths, Phyla-Vell uses her newfound power to attempt to locate a man rumored to be able to fight off this new threat, meanwhile staving off the Phalanx and the Super-Adaptoid, who is under their thrall. The story is very simple, and pretty boring in the end. The relationship between Phyla-Vell and her lover Moondragon is equally droll, despite their drama, and simply pale in light of the beginning stories in this collection. There's a lame attempt at creating tension involving Annihilus's corruption of the Quantum Bands that brings about little suspense and is paid off in an extremely silly scene. To top it off, Mike Lilly's art pales following Green II's, especially when it comes to some messy panel arrangements. But really, Christos N. Gage's writing wasn't very strong in the end either. This wasn't an awful story, it just seemed unnecessary and wasn't very fun to read.
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Overall, a very strong start to the galactic crossover. Conquest had some big shoes to fill following the original Annihilation event, but for the most part, it seems to be in capable hands, with at least one fantastic story coming out of the mix in the form of Annihilation: Conquest - Star-Lord.

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