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Annihilation #3

Posted: Tuesday, October 17, 2006
By: Michael Bailey



“Desperate Measures”

Writer: Keith Giffen
Artists: Andrea Divito, Laura Villari (colors)

Publisher: Marvel Comics


Plot: As Nova and his army battle against the Annihilation Wave, Thanos succeeds in turning Galactus into a living weapon. The result deals a serious loss to Nova and his comrades, forcing them to withdraw and start from scratch with a fraction of their former numbers.

Commentary: Here is proof that Marvel is actually publishing something that I not only want to read but really, really like as well.

Which is kind of funny considering that outside of reading Infinity Gauntlet about a decade back, I didn’t care a thing about Marvel’s cosmic cast of characters before this event.

Seriously, I checked out the mini-series (sorry, this is Marvel, "limited series") that led up to this series on a whim. Well, a whim and the passing similarity to Infinite Crisis, but mostly it seemed like a good idea, and I wanted to get in on the ground floor. Like Infinite Crisis, the four limited/mini-series led to a pretty exciting and action packed story, though unlike DC’s universe altering event, this story has been pretty tight once all of the characters finally came together. This entire issue took place at the end of one battle, but it was far from decompressed story telling. A lot happened, and in the end the characters were left in an even worse position than the last issue.

And that is one of the reasons I’m enjoying Annihilation so much. Back oh so many months ago I reviewed the prologue to this story, and I mentioned that one of my favorite types of stories are the ones where the heroes are put up against a force that, at first, seems utterly insurmountable. The more unstoppable the enemy, the more drama is created, and the more satisfying the outcome is when the heroes finally defeat the forces of evil. It can be the cheesiest ending on the face of the planet, but I will still dig it. DC did this with the Invasion crossover it published in 1989 (which Keith Giffen plotted, by the way). Star Trek: The Next Generation did it with the introduction of the Borg. Hell, even Independence Day had me going, “Okay, we’re dead,” after the nuclear weapon failed to destroy the ship over Texas.

It’s visceral, to be sure, but then again entertainment is meant to produce a reaction, and two of the reactions I like best is thinking, “Wow, they’re screwed,” before yelling, “Oh hell yes!”

Beyond the gut reactions I’m getting from this series, I thought that this issue was particularly well written. From the beginning Giffen let us know that Nova was alive, which was interesting only in that it led us to believe that while Richard Ryder was alive, others might be dead. This heightened the tension, which was going to happen anyway. While the dialogue was trademark Giffen (bits of dark humor scattered through the carnage, especially Phyla’s doubts about whether or not Peter Quill was hitting on her in the middle of pitched battle), bad things were going on. People were dying, and this all led up to the revelation that Thanos had turned Galactus into a weapon.

(I would joke that Giffen really wanted to drive this point home by having Nova repeat the phrase several times, but frankly it was one of those things that deserved repeating given the magnitude of the concept.)

Not only did I think this was a really neat concept, I thought the exposition that laid everything out for us was particularly strong. Giffen obviously put some thought into the concept, which is something I will always appreciate even if I don’t agree with it. As long as the writer is thinking, I’m pretty happy. In this case Giffen broke down what exactly Galactus was and why he could be used the way Thanos and Annihilus used him. I almost feel bad for him in a way. I mean, this is the Devourer of Worlds were talking about, but all you really need is an Ultimate Nullifier and he’ll stay away. Given the choice between Galactus and Annihilus, I’ll go with the guy that wants to eat a planet to survive than the guy who just wants more space.

There were other great moments. Drax jumping into the fray in a full splash page was awesome. I was also happy to see that the Super Skrull was back because I became rather fond of him during his limited series. The scene where Prax and the Super Skrull joined Ronan played out nicely as well, though the bit right before that where Ronan and Richard had a bonding moment was kind of neat too.

I also like Gamora. I have no idea why, but I like the character.

In The End: Well, like Shrek and his friends, Nova and crew are up chocolate creek without a Popsicle stick, which is fantastic. Yeah that sounds weird, but as a reader this series brings up the "can’t wait for the next issue" feeling that I like so much. Giffen has taken a large cast of characters and made me care about them. The action is intense, the dialogue is spot on and the art is amazing. There’s a lot going on, but Giffen never loses the reader or at least he hasn’t lost me. The great thing is that this is only issue #3, and we’re already at the hopeless stage, which makes me wonder what else is going to happen, and if things could get any worse. Not to sound sadistic, but I kind of hope they do. It will make the eventual (I’m assuming) victory that much more satisfying.



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