Review: The Annihilators #1
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Penciler: Tan Eng Huat
Inker: Victor Olazaba
Colorist: June Chung
Letterer: VC's Joe Caramagna
Cover Artist: Alex Garner
Editor: Bill Rosemann
Release Date: March 2nd, 2011
The Galaxy's Mightiest finally assemble to lay siege to whatever threats face our Universe. Silver Surfer, Quasar, Beta Ray Bill, Gladiator and Ronan the Accuser answer the call of a fallen hero to protect those who are less fortunate and unable to defend themselves.
Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning begin their latest space opera in a questionable way introducing a new character who manages to make each one of The Annihilators look the fool - save, of course, the Silver Surfer. Now, just why is that?
Abnett and Lanning make it a point to show us that while the recently dismantled Guardians of the Galaxy's weakness was their lack of power, when it comes to The Annihilators, their chink in the armor is having too much power. As each is challenged by the Spaceknight known as Ikon, they all are too afraid to wield the power at their command for fear of the destructive power they might unleash.
Some refer to these cosmic heavy hitters as the "Cosmic Avengers" - however that would be an insult to the long line of Earth's Mightiest, as this particular group, comes off as nothing more than a bunch of uber-powered buffoons.
Where do I begin?
I'll start with what I felt was good and that was in relation to the Spaceknight and Dire Wraiths. Contrary to what you see in the preview, the opening actually sees the return of a famous Spaceknight's foe, which in particular DnA fashion, hooks you right in. This relates to the recent events that saw Nova and Star-Lord seemingly vanish, as it ties into The Fault created in the aftermath to War of Kings. This also creates a lot of questions and anticipation as to what is to come. From there, we skip to the end as we see something dire break on through and we are left pondering as to what comes next.
Everything that happens between - not so good.
I felt DnA's characterization was off for most members of The Annihilators, and the duo went particularly overboard in the case of Wendell Vaughn, Quasar, - as in "head" case (more on that, later). When Gladiator comes off as the voice of reason after being assaulted, it just doesn't come off as coming from the leader of the Imperial Guard. Ronan is a sulking whiny lout who plays the part of the insecure brute getting his manliness handed to him on a silver platter. I just can't agree with it and nothing about the character makes me want to sympathize. Beta Ray is pretty much on the back-burner and Surfer is his usual emotion-less self.
DnA's decision to go in the opposite direction (and I'm sure opposite as to what fans wanted), instead of showing these particular group of characters to be "A" listers, while ironically being referred to as "Alpha plus class," was a gamble I felt did not work out. The notion that these powerful beings as irresponsible is used to counter their huge power sets - and one that I can not agree with.
I felt DnA tried too hard to make it a point that these power houses would have trouble standing side-by-side, as we get a lot of back and forth banter - and it ends up just being a big turn off. Save for the fact that each of these character's have great history - their is nothing presented that makes me even remotely want to read more about these dis-assemblers.
Now back to Quasar, and I have to say, I am very dissatisfied with the way DnA handled him.
This issue took away everything that DnA had built-up with Quasar from his re-mergence and death in Annihilation: Nova, to his return in Nova and subsequent appearances in Guardians of the Galaxy. As a Quasar fan, who hasn't seen his character shine for many many years, DnA wrote Quasar to be a confident veteran hero - and I loved it. However, all that went out with The Fault, as in Realm of Kings, DnA returned Quasar to be the self-doubting hero from the first two years of the 1989 Quasar (there were 35 more issues after!). I suspected we would be seeing more of that when Quasar was featured in a Marvel Psych article which showed him to be even more uncertain.
Now, in The Annihilators, Quasar sounds like a complete jack-ass. He goes on - and on - how he is not good enough for the team and finishes by saying the only good thing he can do is fail and die. Quasar even mentions a rookie mistake - huh? Last time I checked Quasar saved the Universe, Multi-Verse and Omini-Verse. Time, and time again, previous writers have only concentrated on the fact that Gruenwald did write Quasar to be a self-doubting hero, never realizing that Wendell got past all that. I thought DnA did, as I mentioned above, but here - it is two steps forward and a hundred -- right back to that cosmic-whipping boy. This isn't the same Quasar that was helping Nova and fighting Malestrom from the past couple years. Star-Lord and Nova perished in TI, you might as well have killed Quasar with this issue.
I could write pages and pages about Quasar, but I'll move along.
I'm sorry to say, but the art wasn't very good. At times, the depictions of said characters come off as "Jug-Head" and "Archie-Like." This style wasn't at all suitable for a cosmic power house type of book such as this. The poses and stances were awkward. The use of those emotional "scribbles" made the book come off as cartoonish with an anime and manga feel more fitting of Dragon Ball Z. I noticed Quasar to have a majority of these.
I don't know what it is with Marvel and their Cosmic line, but consistent quality art is not it's strong point. Just as fast as a good artist is on - they are off.
I'll be honest, I felt insulted and cringed while reading this. I can't imagine what a new reader would think - and I can't understand why Marvel would choose to go this route -- hyping the "Cosmic Avengers" and giving us a cosmic fiasco.