Friday Flashback: ANNIHILATION - The Marvel Cosmic ReLaunch

Friday Flashback: ANNIHILATION

Listen up, fellow time-travelers.  This week, we go not back to the ‘70s, the ‘80s, or even the ‘90s but mere four years ago.  Why’s that?  Well, it’s because of you.  More specifically, a couple of comments in THIS thread made me realize that despite ads, articles, reviews, discussions and spin-offs, there are still people out there that a) haven’t been hipped to Marvel’s resurgent cosmic line or b) never read Annihilation or its follow-ups.

Therefore, today, I only hop back to 2006.

Movies:  The #1 film at the box office for 2006 was Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, followed by Night at the Museum, Cars, X-Men: The Last Stand and The DaVinci CodeSuperman Returns landed at number six, while V for Vendetta eeked out number thirty-six. Pan’s Labyrinth and Children of Men were #s 82 and 89, proving that there is no justice.

TV:  The top two show slots in terms of ratings belonged to “American Idol”.  Yep.  Two nights a week, top two shows.  They were followed by “CSI”, “Grey’s Anatomy”, “Desperate Housewives”, “Without a Trace”, “Dancing with the Stars”, “Survivor: Guatemala”, “CSI: Miami” and “House”.  Compare that to the 1991 list I did for “X-Men” #1 , and realize that we’ve swung very far away from dominant comedies.

Music: According to Billboard, the number one song of 2006 was the diabolically overplayed “Bad Day” by Daniel Powter.  Other massive hits included “Temperature” by Sean Paul, “Promiscuous” by Nelly Furtado and Timbaland, the equally overplayed “You’re Beautiful” by James Blunt, and “Hips Don’t Lie” by Shakira and Wyclef Jean.  “Crazy” was only number seven?  Really?  The highest placement by a full band is #20, with “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” by Panic! At the Disco.

Marvel in 2006:  At a time when much of Marvel’s press was being eaten by the run-up to and beginning of Civil War, an event for Marvel’s space characters came together under the direction of writer Keith Giffen.  Rather than being a line-wide type of thing, this event would focus on a particular area with a small cluster of minis built around a central tentpole.  Certainly, the impetus behind the event was to kick-start interest in the cosmic characters again.

The Run-Up: On a purely technical note, the wheels of Annihilation went into motion in 2005 with the mini-series Drax the Destroyer: Earth Fall.  That book, also by Giffen, gave Drax a new look and would propel him into the later event.  Annihilation proper began with a Prologue one-shot in March of 2006.  The book quickly gets players into place as a massive invasion (aka The Annihilation Wave) begins.  Within a few pages, the planet Xandar is razed and its Nova Corps all but destroyed (Earth’s Nova, Richard Rider, is the only survivor).  At the end, we learn that the mind behind the Annihilation wave is ... frequent FF foe Annihilus!

From there, we went into four minis: Annihilation: Silver Surfer, Annihilation: Super-Skrull, Annihilation: Ronan, and Annihilation: Nova.  This is where we begin the “face turn” of Ronan the Accuser, as he becomes more sympathetic, if not outright heroic.  The same can be said of the Super-Skrull.  These four minis finish and converge in the actual Annihilation mini-series, which eventually pits the gathered heroes (and many more) against the forces of Annihilus.

In Annihilation, Peter Quill gets into the game as part of the United Front, the alliance that Nova has forged to fight the Wave.  The aligned heroes find themselves facing some impossible odds.   And frankly, it’s all extremely enjoyable reading.  I won’t spoil it, but it does lay some pretty firm groundwork to move forward.

Then What Happened?:  Annihilation led to the launch of the present ongoing Nova series under Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning.  The sequel event Annihilation: Conquest by DnA came soon after, employing the same cluster of minis format while also involving the Nova ongoing.  Out of this event came the terrific Guardians of the Galaxy series (also by DnA, who would keep on handling the cosmic stuff).  Both ongoings played into the subsequent War of Kings and Realm of Kings to get us to today, where The Thanos Imperative #2 just dropped.

The great thing here is that the books work in tight continuity, are controlled by the vision of a talented writing team, and build carefully on the previous piece of the larger puzzle.  Marvel aggressively collects them, which makes catching up fairly easy to do.

So, Why Annihilation?Because it was entertaining.  And fun.  And frequently funny.  It was cosmic space opera in a way that Marvel hadn’t fully embraced in a while, and it’s only gotten better.  For meAnnihilation marked a positive moment for Marvel, one that demonstrated that they were willing to nurture all the corners of the universe, even if one corner got more media play.  That’s Annihilation, and it’s your Friday Flashback.

Have you been digging the Marvel Cosmic books since their relaunch?

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