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Annihilus and The Annihilation Event – How They Changed Marvel Comics (Comic Basics)


Welcome to Comic Basics. I’m Joel and today’s
episode … Annihilus and The Annihilation Event – How They Changed Marvel Comics. Of all the characters in Marvel’s cosmic
universe, none possess more interest and intrigue than Annihilus. The creation of Jack Kirby
and Stan Lee, Annihilus first appeared in Fantastic Four Annual #6 back in 1968. Although
his debut came after the debut of the Negative Zone, over time, their existence depended
on one another. For context, the Negative Zone is a fictional
dimension within the Marvel Universe. Although the two dimensions, Earth-616 and the Negative
Zone, are eerily similar, the Negative Zone has a couple of huge differences. First, all
matter in the Negative Zone is, you probably guessed it, negatively charged. Second, the
Negative Zone is filled with a pressurized and breathable atmosphere. And third, at its
core lies unheard of power. The Negative Zone, unlike Earth-616 is largely
uninhabited. Due to this, many explorers, most notably Mr. Fantastic and the Fantastic
Four, have ventured into it to learn more. Some less than desirable voyagers have even
attempted to conquer it. Of those who call the Negative Zone home, none are more well-known
than Annihilus, Blastaar, and Stygorr. Some have estimated the age of the Negative
Zone to be over 1 Million years. This means that it predates many of Marvel’s races.
Of the beings in this time period, none were as feared as the Tyannans. The Lion-esque creatures, due to their impressive
physical stature, began to explore and populate the Negative Zone. All was well for the Tyannans
until a field of debris began to form around their planet, Tyanna. Around the same time,
a catastrophic event that destroyed planets had begun. This meant that planets like Tyanna
and others close to the heart of the Negative Zone began to crumble. Most of Tyanna fell victim to the destruction,
save for one or two ships. One of the surviving ships bounced off a large rock and crash-landed
on the planet Arthros. With nothing left to lose, the ship’s captain ordered that all
remaining life spores aboard be released. This resulted in the slow growth of life on
Arthros. But before we get to Arthros, we kinda need
to talk about Baluur. One of the planets that the Tyannans populated
during their Universe-wide siege, Baluur, saw its inhabitants grow in a much more barbaric
way. Those on the planet grew to be very large and physically opposing. Although the species
advanced itself technologically, the advancement came out of necessity and not through natural
evolution. This was primarily due to the fact that their race was driven by war. To survive
meant to create and develop technology that would allow survival. The Baluurians were different from many other
species in the Negative Zone in the sense that rather than create cities on the planets
surface, they created them underground. This, as strange as it sounds, happened because
the species is more reclusive than other Negative Zone species. As such, they prefer to remain
out of the spotlight and away from the problems within the Dimension. As mentioned, after releasing the Life Spores
on the planet, life started to grow on Arthros. Granted, the life wasn’t anything anyone
could have predicted but it did shape the Marvel Universe for years to come. Of all the life that could’ve grown, it
was an insect-like creature that emerged that’s most important. While physically inferior
to many of the other creatures in the Negative Zone, this creature possessed a superior intellect.
This was so much that when it stumbled upon the downed Tyannan ship, it was able to use
their technology to craft itself a helmet. If this doesn’t seem impressive, know that
the helmet contained the entirety of the Tyannan culture and technology. With it, the creature
was able to advance itself in unpredictable ways. For example… It took the discarded canisters that contained
the life spores and created the Cosmic Control Rod. The Cosmic Control Rod, when correctly
used by its controller, grants them incredible power. This meant that the user gained the
ability to control and manipulate both matter and energy. The insect, as you are probably
aware, now called Annihilus, used it to heightened his own strength, slow his aging, protect
himself from extreme cold and heat, and fly through space. The Cosmic Control Rod quickly
became the mark of power in the Negative Zone and with it, Annihilus set out to cause harm
to all who could and would harm him. Annihilus is more than just an insect with
a ton of power. Annihilus is power defined. I’d argue that his inclusion in Marvel Comics
is as important as Galactus, Thanos, Adam Warlock, or any other Cosmic being. Here’s why. He was the reason for Marvel’s best Cosmic
Event. I don’t refer to Infinity Gauntlet, Magus Saga, and every other amazing Jim Starlin
story. Don’t get me wrong. When it comes to thematic and metaphorical undertones, Starlin
is the Master. However, when talking about scale of grandeur and action-packed sequences,
Annihilation can’t be touched. Not only did Annihilation see the attempted Galaxy-wide
conquest by Annihilus, but it also created the landscape that the Cosmic Universe now
sits on. What you must understand about Annihilation
is that it came at a time when Marvel wasn’t what they are today. They were a couple of
years away from their MCU and less than a decade away from the near collapse of the
industry. Marvel, for as big as they are now, was at a place where nobody really cared about
them. And if they were cared about, their Cosmic Universe certainly wasn’t. This is
why Annihilation was such a risk. Look, humans can be a finicky species. We
like what we like and want what we want. As such, giving us something new and exciting
doesn’t always go as hoped. Case in point, the Cosmic Universe. Outside of Jim Starlin,
the Cosmic Universe was like a fish who couldn’t breathe underwater. It was dead. Certainly, before Annihilation, there were
Cosmic characters, and with those characters came longtime readers. However, outside of
that small percentage of the population, nobody gave the Cosmic Universe any respect. And why? Marvel never gave anyone a reason to give
respect. Names like Drax the Destroyer, Mar-Vell, Nova, and the like we’re just that…only
names. They didn’t carry the weight and clout that they do now. Annihilation changed this. Annihilation gave
rise to some of the most significant changes the Marvel Cosmic Universe had ever seen. Annihilation saw Annihilus invade the main
Marvel Universe. To do this, Annihilus and his army of insects (Annihilation Wave) made
their presence felt when they attacked Xandar. By attacking Xandar, Annihilus did two important
things. First, he wiped out quite possibly the only line of defense the Universe had.
Second, by doing this and leaving only Richard Rider as a survivor, he unwittingly gave Rider
the entirety of the Nova Force and the Xandarian Worldmind. With the Xandarian Worldmind, Rider was suddenly
able to tap into the entire history of the Xandarians and the individual minds of thousands
of dead Xandarians. This gave him unprecedented access to knowledge that so very few could
ever have. With the entirety of the Nova Force, his regular powers were augmented in such
a way that he was now capable of great feats of strength and could harness almost limitless
amounts of energy. In short, Nova went from bit-player to one of the most important characters
in the cosmos. But it wasn’t just that. Annihilation also saw Thanos partner with
Annihilus. That’s right, Thanos of Infinity Gauntlet partnering with Annihilus of, well,
Annihilation. And why does he do this? Simply because Annihilus piqued his interest when
he told Thanos that he sought to create balance in the Universe. That is, he claimed that
the Marvel Universe had encroached on the Negative Zone for far too long and he desired
to fix it. Look, Thanos isn’t stupid…not by any stretch
of the imagination. He acts and does things that are in the best interest of himself.
Aligning himself with a creature bent on balancing the Galaxy only gets him closer to achieving
the same goal. That, and it gives him a front-row view of the happenings of the Cosmic Universe. But this wasn’t the regular Thanos. Annihilation presented the reader with a different
kind of Thanos. The entire story saw him flirting on the line between villain and anti-hero.
As mentioned, for much of it he gave aid to Annihilus. However, when he learned that Annihilus
had lied and actually sought to wipe out all life in the Universe, he changed his tune
and began helping the heroes. Don’t mistake this though. This doesn’t
mean that his past didn’t catch up to him. He was still a genocidal maniac and his past
caught up in a big way. Arthur Douglas and his family lived a fairly
simple life on the California Coast. One day while traveling through the Mojave Desert,
the family noticed a space ship flying above them. As it turned out, the ship belonged
to Thanos who was on Earth gathering information about the planet. Realizing he had been caught,
Thanos shot down at their car, destroying it and the family inside. Mentor, the father of Thanos watched this
play out and did two things. First, he brought Arthur’s wife, who had survived the blast,
back to Titan to heal. Second, he asked his father (Thanos’s Grandfather) to go to Earth
and bring back the consciousness of Arthur. His father did just that and with Arthur’s
mind on Titan, the two began working on a new body for him. The body was given superhuman
strength and durability and once complete had Arthur’s mind placed inside. Now called Drax the Destroyer, any notion
of Arthur’s existence was wiped away. In its place was installed a belief system that
only wanted to see Thanos dead. Annihilation made this happen. During the event, Drax was killed and his
mind was placed in a new body. While the body was physically inferior to his old body, the
desire to kill Thanos lived on. In one of the most violent panels from the event, Thanos
is seen with the hand and arm of Drax through his abdomen. Yes, Drax had finally killed
Thanos. If it seems strange that a depowered Drax could kill a much more powerful Thanos,
know that this Drax grew stronger as he got closer to Thanos. However, even Drax killing Thanos isn’t
the greatest part of the Annihilation event. At the height of the event, Galactus and the
Silver Surfer are beaten by two Gods, Aegis and Tenebrous. After their defeat, the Gods
hand over the two to Annihilus and his Annihilation Wave. With quite possibly the most powerful
being in existence at his disposal, Annihilus does the unthinkable and turns him into a
weapon for his own use. Just think about that for a second. Galactus, the Devourer of Worlds, turned into
a greater weapon than he already is. With Galactus attached to the Flagship vessel,
the Annihilation Wave makes its way through the Galaxy decimating planet after planet.
It was so one-sided that the heroes looked on with disbelief as Annihilus seemed to have
finally won. Or did he? As great of a spectacle as this was, there
was no way it could last…and it didn’t. Eventually, Drax frees the Silver Surfer and
in turn, the Silver Surfer frees Galactus. Once free, a very angry Galactus obliterates
the Annihilation Wave that he once stood by. Consequently, this marked the beginning of
the end for Annihilus. By the end of Annihilation, Annihilus had
been killed, and the Galaxy restored, yet forever changed. Richard Richard was the only
Nova left. Drax had fulfilled his lifelong mission. Galactus had been used and abused
like a torn up paper towel. And, more than all of these combined, the Cosmic Universe
was suddenly a major player within Marvel. Without it, characters like Drax, Thanos,
Phyla-Vell, Galactus, Silver Surfer, Ronan, Gamora, Kl’rt, and Star-Lord, the last few
of whom I didn’t even mention, wouldn’t be where they are today. Just think about that. Without Annihilus, the most well-known and
loved version of the Guardians of the Galaxy wouldn’t exist as a team. It was Nova joining
forces with Drax, who then brought on Star-Lord and Gamora that created the Guardians of the
Galaxy. Not James Gunn. Annihilus. As great of a story as Annihilation was, and
it was great, you must remember that at its heart stood Annihilus, one of the most interesting
and unique characters in Marvel’s catalog. I’d be wrong if I told you that he hadn’t
been used before. He had been to varying degrees of success, but he had never been used in
a way that triggered Marvel-wide change like Annihilation did. Make no mistake, Annihilus is odd, both looking
and the way he’s used. He’s basically a giant fly with the brain power of Tony Stark
or Reed Richards. However, for as odd as he is, great stories and have been written about
him. He’s a villain who is bent on gaining and holding as much power as he can. Which,
by the way, is no different than most villains. But, unlike most villains, he is capable of
causing change on a grand scale. Annihilus is to Marvel’s Cosmic Universe
what Dr. Doom is to Earth … a leader of his own world. Like Doom, Annihilus controls
the Negative Zone through fear and power. Like Doom, he does this with an Iron Fist.
And like Doom, he’d do anything to protect it. What separates him from Dr. Doom is that
to protect it means destroying everything around him. Annihilus is one of the greatest villains
Marvel has ever created. Each of us owes him a debt of gratitude for what he’s done for
Marvel. And I’m gonna wrap it up here. I hope you enjoyed that and if you did, please
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3 thoughts on “Annihilus and The Annihilation Event – How They Changed Marvel Comics (Comic Basics)

  1. This was one of my favorite events. I would only compare Hickman’s last Illuminati event, but this was better.there hasn’t been anything this good since this one,that was like years ago. Sad.

  2. Marvel has sucked for years. This reminds me of when they had really good ideas, like Henry Pam being the great engineer, xforce by remender,, captain America by brubaker. Am I missing something or does all of marvel currently suck? I only read tpb and haven’t seen anything worth reading in a long long time.

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