So if you've been following this blog, you know that I've been reviewing the Annihilation: Conquest series, sucker that I am for a great space opera. And I'm keeping both fingers crossed that Conquest is actually that, a great space opera.
But now I take a step back and review the original space opera that set up Conquest: The Annihilation crossover event.
And here is the kick: I've not read a single page of it before.
Yup, I'm coming into this one cold, and decided to keep it that way until I could read the collections and get the whole damn thing in one shot. I simply hadn't counted on Marvel waiting this long to release the softcover of the series.
Hey, sidenote here, who would buy this stuff in hardcover? I've yet to find a shop owner that believes that this is hardcover material whatsoever. Lee/Kirby Masterworks? That's hardcover material, not this. This is killer softcover reading. Is anyone thinking that this is so deathless as to deserve hardcover treatment?
This collection covers the four issue Drax the Destroyer series, Annihilation prologue and four issues of Annihilation: Nova.
The Drax issues: lots of Giffen silliness, except here Keith uses his rather ideosyncratic writing in service of a dark story, and a fair amount of continuity retooling, delving back into the Starlinverse to use the Blood Brothers to help reintro Drax. Starlin himself clearly had tired of the character that he had created back in 1972, and turned him into comic relief in the mid '90's when the tone was a little (or a lot) less dark. I'm sure that Keith had Captain Marvel #28 and Marvel Feature #12 on his mind when he was working on this, with the return of the Blood Brothers. Drax is given a bizarre female sidekick, our entry into what is clearly a new and different universe. Drax is different, sarcastic, and I'm not altogether sure where his character arc will go, but he's a new Drax for the new millenium, and I'm willing to go with it for now.
The Annihilation Prologue: Nova takes over, front and center. Nova. Richard- I've been drawn by Sal and John Buscema and my finest moment was against the Sphinx- Ryder. Not my favorite. Here he acts as a stand in for Green Lantern, and the Nova Corps certainly have followed the precedent of the Lanterns. Nice continuity with some of the aliens being from older Marvel mags: a Rigellian and the blue skinned girl (not Kree) with the fin who is from the same race as Yondu from the Guardians of the Galaxy.
And the first thing they do is kill off the rest of the Corps. Thank god. Did no one over at DC realize that the moment that we actually saw the Lantern Corps, Hal Jordan ceased to be really special? The same thing would have happened here if they had simply knocked them all off. Good storytelling, nice idea.
And we reintroduce Annihilus. And ooohh baby, what a reintroduction it is. Less man and far more insect than even Kirby made him, and wicked evil.
Annihilus works well as long as we're willing to buy into the body count that a creature like Annihilus would leave behind. Fortunately, we're got time and pages to show it. This is not your Rich Buckler Annihilus. Makes you wonder how the Fantastic Four would ever stand up against this version.
This is the day that the Negative Zone decided to come and kick our asses.
(Two small teases: We get a small one page interlude with the Silver Surfer. Which makes me sure that this is not going to be a battle fought with only the lightweights like Nova. At some point, the power cosmic will come into play. And, two, we get a text page introducing newbies to Thanos. Heh, heh, heh.)
The Nova issues: Nova picks up Drax and his companion and they're off to meet Quasar. The first encounter with Annihilus does not go well. Pretty much at all. Nova and Drax get out with their lives and start thinking that they need to get better at, well, at everything. Ring the curtain, wait for the next part of the story.
Loads O' Fun: a great start to the space opera, tons of death, and a resurrection of a great old Lee/Kirby villian. Now if only we don't see the wimpy Silver Surfer when he shows up, don't see the conflicted Thanos when he shows up... and if only Mar-Vell were here to help save our butts. Some great Keith Giffen writing in the dialogue, nice pacing by Lanning and Abnett and, while varied, the art by Kolins, Walker and Olivatti is good. Having a solid artist like Giffen to help pace things out doesn't hurt.
Welcome to the Starlinverse, Nova, enjoy the ride. I suspect that it's going to get a hell of a lot tougher from here.