This is, without a doubt, the best cosmic saga of its kind. Period. How to approach reviewing a book/series that covers so much ground? The Annihilation series takes the Marvel cosmic mythos and took it far further than any other series in comic book history. The changed more of the status quo, killed, updated and advanced more characters in these three volumes than I would have thought possible.
The overriding answer to the question: is it worth it? is yes, this is a true universe changing event, and considering all the different balls that they had up in the air: Galactus, the Nova Corps, Annihilus, Thanos, the Kyln, Moondragon, the Kree, the Skrulls, Phyla-Vell, Quasar, Drax the Destroyer and all the heralds of Galactus, they actually make everything work. And I really didn't think that was possible.
I went on for a while while reviewing the second collection of Annihilation about the shift in the Silver Surfer, and how this giant cosmic comic book story was working on both macro and micro character arcs. How else is it supposed to be? There are quiet moments here (Ronan the Accuser being so impressed with Nova that he extends the ultimate compliment: that if Richard Rider were Kree, that he would call him brother. And he doesn't even call him a "pink". I still doubt that he would have extended the same courtesy to Mar-Vell.) to balance out the large ones: Galactus being toppled by Aegis and Tenebrous, imprisoned to Annihilus, and his subsequent rage when he is freed.
Importantly, we find out here just why Thanos of Titan allies himself with Annihilus, and what he finally decides to do when it is time for him to act. As important as the Surfer returning to Galactus' service, is the culmination of Drax's vengence. Fulfilling Chronos' destiny for him, on the quest since 1972, Drax finally slays Thanos. It is a monumental moment in the Marvel Universe.
Thanos, as a villian, always was the most dangerous that Marvel had: as powerful, cunning and ruthless as Darksied, his were always the grander plans, whether with the Cosmic Cube, the Infinity Gauntlet, or disrupting the 5000 year rule of the Magus. Here, however, he is outfoxed, and when he finally decides to act we are thrown for a loop. Instead of ingaging Annihilus directly, he acts to free Galactus, and leaves himself vulnerable to the Destroyer. A battle between Annihilus and Thanos would have been, lets face, would be a fanboy's cosmic dream. But instead Drax achieves his vengence at the cost of almost losing us the war against the Annihilus. Thanos' weakness is during his moment of doing good, releasing Galactus to save our universe. It is a story moment worthy of the Greek Myths, worthy of Starlin himself.
As with any opera staged on such a big tableau, there are a ton of loose ends, and therein lie all the next stories, but we leave the book at the right moment: we know that Ronan has taken control of the Kree Empire, that Nova, for all his losses in the war, will stay out in space, sole possessor of the Xandarian Nova Force, we know which heralds of Galactus have lived, which have died, we know that Phyla-Vell has become the new possessor of the Quantum Bands and, thus, the new Quasar. We have seen the old universal order vastly changed.
And, best of all, there is no dreaded "reset" button, and so, we are satisfied. A mammoth story, well told, and with no cheats, no easy outs for any of our characters. And as I said in my review of the first book, I never understood the notion that "science fiction doesn't sell" in comics. This is exactly the sort of star-spanning saga that comics do amazingly well. Well done, well done. Considering all the ancient and incidental characters that they dug up just to prove that they'd done their homework (Paibok, the Space Parasite, the Space Knights, Blastaar, Talos the Untamed, Tana Nile) one wonders just who didn't make the cut during the brainstorming sessions: Jack of Hearts anyone? I mean, come on, Tana Nile? Wow.
This is, without a doubt, the best cosmic saga of its kind. Period.