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Divide and (Annihilate and) Conquer: Graeme goes into space from 11/7.

Graeme McMillan

The temptation, after spoiling the identity of the mystery Skrull in New Avengers: Illuminati yesterday, to reveal who the mystery bad guy behind the whole thing is in ANNIHILATION: CONQUEST #1 is pretty big. Just how many Marvel fans could I piss off in two days, after all? But I’ll resist, if only because the reveal here is more unexpected and kind of more nonsensical; let’s leave the WTF moments to the comics themselves. I do wonder about the whole “And it’s not really faceless alien hordes they’re fighting, it’s faceless alien hordes led by this old-school bad guy!” schtick that they’re repeating here from the original Annihilation, though; if this is something that’s going to happen in every single Annihilation series, I give it two years before we’re told that the Ringmaster and his Circus of Crime have somehow become worshipped as evil gods by a race of evil, marauding aliens who want to beat up Quasar. Again.

Nonetheless, the book itself is slick, well-done fun. Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning’s script starts with a review of what the big threat is and then jumps straight into the action, pretty much bypassing what happened in any of the four tie-in prologue books other than Quasar, but they keep the idea of imminent disaster treated as thrills and spills going throughout. There’re easter eggs for the longtime readers that will hopefully be fleshed out for newcomers in later issues – I can’t wait to see just what role the High Evolutionary is going to end up playing – as well as a new take on Adam Warlock that may manage to overcome the currently annoyingly familiar “reluctant messiah” thing that’s going on (Tom Raney’s art, too, keeps with the slickness; it’s attractive work, if a little generic and melodramatic in places).

Much like DC’s Sinestro Corps mini-crossover, there’s something refreshing about the very old-fashioned “cosmic” level of story being played out here, and the fact that it’s pretty much self-contained – well, until the Super-Skrull suddenly decides that he’s going to kill all the humans, I guess – adds to that enjoyment. Despite poor Moondragon now being a real dragon, it’s a pretty Good sci-fi comic book, and worth picking up if you want something that’s more Star Wars than Star Trek.

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