In 2006, Marvel was making big news with their huge "Civil War" event. But while this conflict spread out on Earth, Keith Giffen, Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning were making huge waves with their own epic event, one that would elevate Marvel cosmic to bold new heights and remind you of how the universe was bigger than just one planet. It set the bar for slews of follow-ups and with the "Guardians of the Galaxy" movie making these characters bigger, Marvel is now putting out a single book of the huge Annihilation event that shows a space epic that puts most big-screen movies to shame.
It actually starts with "Drax the Destroyer: Earthfall," a mini-series where a prison ship of aliens crashes on Earth. The dim-witted Drax is killed by the others but returns to life, not as powerful but much smarter. He befriends a young Earth girl named Cammi as he takes on the other criminals. Then, the "Annihilation: Prologue" one-shot kicks it all off as the Nova Corps is decimated by the Annihilation Wave, a huge armada of warships and monstrous creatures wiping out entire planets in their path. The end of the issue reveals it's led by Annihilus, out to destroy our universe once and for all. This leads to a set of four-issue mini-series that showcase the major players:
*"Nova" has Richard Rider the sole survivor of the Corps with their Worldmind downloaded into his helmet. Meeting up with Drax and Cammi, he faces off against Annihilus with the aid of Quasar, leading to a big death that shows the stakes.
*"Ronan" has the Kree Accuser framed for treason and going on his own to clear his name. He soon lands on a planet controlled by a dark being unaware his power is nothing against what's coming as Ronan battles Gamora.
*"Super Skrull" has the super-powered champion of his people dismissed as a failure after so many losses to the Fantastic Four but goes on a solo mission to take out a Wave force with some unique allies joining.
*"Silver Surfer" has a group called the Seekers trying to capture those with the Power Cosmic and in order to stop them, Norrin Radd must once more join his master, Galactus.
This leads into the six-issue "Annihilation" series as Nova joins with Star-Lord and Gamora to form a desperate alliance against the Wave. It's hard as this is a force that is able to defeat Galactus himself and the entry of Thanos into things just makes it worse. Awesome moments abound such as when sworn enemies Ronan and Super-Skrull fight back to back against enemy forces, Nova coming into his own as a huge hero and the spectacular final conflict. You see characters like Super-Skrull and Ronan in new light, not bad guys but noble warriors for their people. The artwork is great on all parts to sell the cosmic conflicts of armadas battling it out and the huge stakes as billions are killed, putting the petty disputes on Earth in a new light. Also included are a two-part follow-up on the Heralds of Galactus as well as a special that profiles the various players in the crossover. This is Marvel Comics done right and while it's been in various solo collections, having it in one huge go is even better to follow along and see how it all comes together in a slick presentation. While it might have been nice to get the "What If" special that showed a different way for this to turn out, this is still one of the best examples of a great event and shows how these cosmic stars shine just as well (if not better) than those of Earth.