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Space Is The Place: Graeme heads out for interstellar policemen from 7/11

Graeme McMillan

It’s the war of the space opera epics this week, as the first non-special-oneshot chapters of both DC and Marvel’s star-crossed slam-bang-fests shipped, inviting comparisons that’ll probably do no-one any good. But let’s try anyway, why don’t we?

ANNIHILATION: CONQUEST: WRAITH #1: Maybe it’s Kyle Hotz’s artwork – which, especially on the title character here, reminds me of Sam Keith’s stuff – or maybe it’s the choice of inverted word balloons for the eponymous hero, but I couldn’t quite shake the idea that someone, somewhere, at Marvel sees this as “What if Sandman was a butt-kicking space mercenary?” It’s an entirely unfair comparison, of course, because the story owes nothing to Neil Gaiman’s gift to DC’s intellectual property (although if you suggested that Wraith is Sandman meets Lobo, you’re actually not a million miles away from the truth), but also a sign of how disinterested I found myself in the story and looking for distraction. There’s nothing bad about the story, necessarily, but also nothing that makes me particularly excited about the prospect of checking out the second issue, nor about the idea that this will be a necessary piece of the whole Annihilation: Conquest larger story. Eh.

NOVA #4, on the other hand, is much more successful. While the superhero snob in me wonders when we’re going to see an issue of the book that isn’t a crossover with some larger event (even the first issue was pretty much an epilogue to the original Annihilation), the reader in me has to admit that the sudden intrusion of A:C brings a very enjoyable intensity and sense of disaster to the series. I’m not falling for the idea that Richard Ryder is, as suggested by the last few pages, dead, but I’m very much liking the idea that the creative team are ready to throw away the title character for awhile so early in the book’s run. Good, and offering enough insight into the Phalanx that I’m even more curious as to where the larger story is going next.

Meanwhile, over at DC, GREEN LANTERN #21 takes the Sinestro Corps War storyline to the individual books, with surprising restraint – I have to admit that I was expecting some kind of obvious “Hal Jordan! I, Sinestro, am going to kick your ass!” moment in this issue, but instead the big guns seen at the end of the opening oneshot are purposefully kept in the background while the new Parallax essentially goes solo on a revenge mission against Hal. It’s another well-done issue, giving this book an organic separation from the Green Lantern Corps book, even though the two series will be carrying the same story for the next few months, while also giving new readers all the backstory they may need both in terms of plot and psychological motivation. It’s the wonderful lack of what you’d expect that made this so Good; much more subtle than something like Infinite Crisis, maybe Geoff Johns really did learn some tricks from the rest of the 52 writers after all…

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