Somewhere in the nomad fortress of Heteropteron, in the Negative Zone, an infant sleeps. Once, while under the “protective” guardianship of the minor lord Catastrophus, this infant’s natural pupation period was being stifled. Catastrophus was enjoying his reign in the stead of a bug king whose new “self” was in the pupation chamber. Stunting permanently the infant’s growth utilizing the Cosmic Control Rod assured the minor lord a long reign indeed.
Or so he thought.
Then came the Fraternity of Raptors to the Negative Zone in the form of Talon and Razor. It had been 61 centuries, maybe more, since either universe, positive or negative, had seen their like. In pursuit of furthering their “Great Purpose” – presumably maintaining the strength and superiority of the Sh’ar Imperium – the then-lone Raptors of today slew Catastrophus, stole the rod (later presenting it to Negative Zone denizen Blastaar – King Blastaar) and spared the now-developing pupil state of Annilihus, asking the slumbering former Negative Zone king and destroyer of thousands of worlds to simply remember this act.
Until War of Kings: Ascension #2, Annihilus had been absent from the cosmic canvas of the Marvel U. The man called Nova had slain him at the climax of Annihilation by shoving his fist down the bug king’s throat and ripping out his internal organs. Ah, but we later see Annihilus’ general, Ravenous, taking a newborn egg from one of the last surviving queen insects and proclaiming “The Lord Annihilus lives!”
Thanks to the Fraternity, that is now a fact.
Now comes Fantastic Four #578, soon to hit LCSs, with a promise in its “War of Four Cities” storyline of the discovery of a Cult of Annihilus. Following the arrival on the FF scene of cities representing the High Evolutionary/the Moloids of Mole Man, Atlantis and the Inhumans, this Cult – perhaps lost worshippers of the insect god, perhaps something more cosmically mind-blowing as were the “Universal” Inhumans – is in keeping with this “Prime Elements” arc of the World’s Greatest Cosmic Magazine.
But while both the solicitation and the cover would lead one to believe Annihilus will be front and center for the story, I must point out that these fantastic tales linked together by Jonathan Hickman and Dale Eaglesham have occurred without appearances from the High Evolutionary, Namor the Sub-Mariner or Black Bolt and family (at least in the “now”). Why should Annihilus’ case be different?
We have had exaggerated FF covers in the past – despite what is depicted on the cover of FF #572, it was an army of Reeds and not the FF who defeated an incarnation of the Celestials – but this one by Gerald Parel might not be so exaggerated. After all, it shows the FF’s reflection staring into big bug eyes. Might the reflection not be from a pupation shell or Kid Annihilus’ own shiny exoskeleton?
In short, although Marvel Cosmic fans are hoping for even a mention of the Raptors, the Annihilation Wave, the Cosmic Control Rod, King Blastaar or other threads from the first big event which returned our beloved cosmic characters to front and center in the Marvel U., what we may see is Annihilus in his pupation shell and a Cult of worshippers/big buggers and that is it!
But before someone calls this reporter a party pooper, let us hear from the man himself. No, not Annihilus but Fantastic Four scribe Jonathan Hickman in a fairly recent interview with Matt McGloin, editor/publisher of Cosmic Book News:
Cosmic Book News: As shown in the recently released solicit for Fantastic Four #578, Annihilus returns to pester the Fantastic Four! Fans of Annihilation will be excited. Will this meeting be at all different seeing as how Annihilus was portrayed vastly more powerful in his most recent appearances?
Hickman: I'm a big fan of a lot of what the cosmic guys have been doing at Marvel. As some of that cycles back towards Fantastic Four, I'll be using a bunch of that stuff. So … yes: badass, post-Annihilation Kid Annihilus.
Cosmic Book News: Reed has appeared in recent issues of Nova, albeit a Reed from an earlier timeline. As shown in the recent Nova solicit, Darkhawk, Nova and Quasar are set to return to Earth to warn them about the dangers of the Fault. Are there any plans to link FF with the rest of Marvel Cosmic?
Hickman: Ummmm, I kind of answered this above, but to be more broad … yes, in fact most of what you saw in the cosmic books over the past two years (Inhumans, Kree, War of Kings, Annihilation, etc.) will be showing up in Fantastic Four. I love that stuff and I can't wait to get to it. Should be epic!
I don’t think Mr. Hickman could have made it any plainer than that. We will have to wait and see. Until then, I am enjoying the new/old direction of Fantastic Four immensely and I hope you are too.
And (just maybe) a bug shall lead us.
Fantastic Four #578 becomes available on April 28!