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Annihilators #1 and #2

Sunday - April 17, 2011

Let me first say, that growing up in the 70s, I was immediately a Marvel-Head. Secondly, I cared very little for any kind of space adventures with my heroes. Space adventures clearly were Star Wars or Space 1999. Why would I read a comic for those? I felt it was (yes, I know it was nerdly hypocritical of me) corny for heroes to be flying about all willy-nilly in space without the use of a ship or some kind of suit. That is why I, as a child, could never buy into the DC Universe; too much Green Lantern, Superman, Legionnaire stuff for my rigid little imagination to handle. Even in my beloved Marvel Universe I steered away from Silver Surfer (unless he was rolling with my boys in the Defenders), Guardians of the Galaxy, Nova, Captain Marvel, etc. I mean, yeah, I was down for the occasional adventure of my heroes into space and other worlds like the Skrulls, the Kree, and Shi'ar, but they went there in ships and they always returned home to Earth. Then, in 1979, a different kind of silver adventurer flew into my life; Rom, the Spaceknight. Here was something I could get behind. He was a dude grafted into space armor!! This all was way more plausible to me AND he fought an unseen menace to the human race, the Dire Wraiths. Plus it was drawn by the legendary Sal Buscema. Little did I know, but my undying love for this shining Galadorian would open the door, decades later, for a tremendous Space Superhero ride.

In 2006, Marvel launched one of its classic Events, Annihilation. I did not partake in this event and its many crossovers and mini-series, but it did give birth to a new Guardians of the Galaxy by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning. This caught my eye, mainly as a guilty pleasure, because of Starlord and Rocket Raccoon. I picked it up and I was hooked. Great dialogue and good character development. Plus they were pandering to my sense of nostalgia by using characters like Mantis, Adam Warlock, Moondragon, and even Bug from the Micronauts!! Reading this series drew me into the the War of Kings mini-series/cross-overs, which seemed a natural progression since I had been following Vulcan over in the X-titles (Yes, I am also an X-zombie as well as a Marvel-Head) and had plot points from the aftermath of Secret Invasion. These were all very good cross-overs. I love a tightly woven storyline that can pull the reader into other books he would normally not care about. For me that was Nova. I actually picked it up and started to get into the characters and Corps. War of lead to Realm of Kings cross-overs and, finally, into The Thanos Imperative, all of which were still helmed by Abnett & Lanning. From the ashes of The Thanos Imperative has risen the Annihilators mini-series!!

Now into the meat of the actual review of Annihilators #1-#2. I wanted to give you all a bit of intro to the series, in case you had not been following any of it. One of the things that I truly love about this run of story arcs is that Marvel has brought it to us in the packaging of multiple mini-series and cross-overs. Normally I am NOT a fan of cross-overs, having been burned many times in the past buying books that had little or nothing to do with the over all story, but were more of a sales gimmick. Here ALL the series & cross-overs pertain, and, whats more refreshing, is that if you did not want to read them all, you can still get a great read out of the ones you did choose. BUT, if you followed every single one, the story and development was that much richer! Annihilators follows right out of the end of Imperative, with the dying wish of Starlord to form a band of Alpha class cosmic heroes to meet threats such as the Cancerverse. In the first issue, we see Ronan, Silver Surfer, Quasar, Beta Ray Bill, and Gladiator trying to bring this wish to fruition. But (and to my great surprise and delight) they are confronted by Ikon, a frakkin' SPACEKNIGHT!! Now I am really hooked. Marvel has teased for years, and rumors have abounded, about the return of the Spaceknights and Dire Wraiths. Of course, in the classic, comic book, hero misunderstanding fashion, we have a bit of a tussle with all our characters before they are cast into the true threat, the return of the Dire Wraiths to the homeworld of the Spaceknights, Galador. Issue #2 gets right into all the cosmic head banging battles your heart desires. We even get the return of Brandy Clark and a bit of betrayal! By the end of the second issue we are treated to the return of the Wraith Queen and our band of heroes in dire peril (pun intended). This series, so far, is right on track with all the rest in the overall, long-reaching story arc that started over 5 years ago. Abnett & Lanning have a real flare for writing team dialogue, and come close, in ways, to the humor that Giffen had with his run on JLA. Lots of good banter humor. The art is by Tan Eng Huat, who has done Doom Patrol, Silver Surfer, and Moon Knight, to name a few. His style here really adds to the feel of the plot, although it took me most of the first issue for me to get into it. It wasn't until the larger, full-panel, battle scenes where I could appreciate his techniques. With all the Spaceknights and Cosmic Heroes, his Kirby-esque, thick-lined shadowing and highlights really played well into the overall bigger, celestial feeling of the book.

Now, not only do you get 22, action-packed pages of cosmic thrills & chills in each issue, there are also another 22 pages of Rocket Raccoon & Groot straight from the pages of Guardians of the Galaxy!!! This is also brought to you by Abnett & Lannning with art by Timothy Green II (who I am really digging). We get to follow RR as he goes on a quest to find his best bud Groot, while mourning the loss of Starlord, and fighting off killer living wood clowns. Did I mention its Rocket Raccoon!?!?! Wise-cracking, gun-totting, master military tactician&.who is a talking raccoon!! CLASSIC!! Plus there are variant covers for each issue that feature RR. The first variant is by the OG Rocket Raccoon artist, Mike Mignola. The second is by Mignola's long time collaborator, Guy Davis! This back-up story is really top notch and could have easily stood alone in its own title.

All in all the Annihilators series has lived up to all its predecessors and extra back up story helps take the sting out of the $5 price. I feel that Abnett & Lanning have the ability to write modern sophisticated stories and still bring the Ol Skool Marvel flare!! Both issue #1 & #2 end in full page cliff-hangers, it doesnt get any better than that. Well, unless they can figure out how to bring back my favorite Spaceknight in the next two issues. Nuff Said!!!

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Wes Booth. comic reader since the age of 6. first comics were Invaders #3 and Captain America & Falcon #181. first job was bagging back issues at a local comic store. managed another comic store for over 4 years. only adopted child. husband. dog owner. graphic martial artist. shirt maker. eastside indianapolis historian. nostalgic guru.

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