Annihilation: Prologue (2006)

Did you know that somewhere out in space in the Marvel Universe, there’s a group called the Nova Corps out there protecting us? They’re a lot like the Green Lantern Corps: each member looks differently from each other, and have slightly different costumes from each other, but each follows a great central authority, and put themselves on the line to save the universe from great galaxy-spanning menaces. In this case, "something just pushed through the crunch," that nasty something being a nasty race of interstellar killers. This Annihilation Prologue tells the story of that valiant Nova Corps as they try to win the war. How do they do? well, let’s just say that a certain Terran member of the Nova Corps has a reason to seek revenge on his enemies.
Well, it’s an exciting start to a big star-spanning adventure. There’s a sense of menace and threat here that’s a lot of fun. This issue sets a number of plot threads in motion. Some seem to be obvious for future exploration – for instance, what is the future of the Nova Corps – and others seem more subtle – what are Thanos’s plans here, and what is his involvement in this whole scheme?
I don’t know to what extent this story follows the Infinite Crisis problem of being too much inside the tent, of requiring too much inside knowledge to really get a lot out of the story. For instance, does the great revelation on the last story page make any sense for anyone who doesn’t already know that character? Does the appearance of the character make the story more laughable for the non-initiates, or more interesting? I’m not sure that writer Giffen does a good enough job of keeping readers up to speed on who all these characters are and what all their actions mean.
I’ve never been a big fan of Scott Kolins’s work. To me, his human characters look stiff and mechanical. Maybe it’s the influence of Ariel Olivetti or maybe it’s because he’s drawing non-human characters here, but Kolins’s work seems especially effective here. He obviously had a lot of fun drawing the diverse Nova Corps, and all their different looks. Kolins’s big space battles have a hell of a lot going on in them, even if it’s sometimes seems hard to understand exactly what’s going on.
It’s hard to assess an epic on the basis of one chapter, but this is a nice, solid beginning for this one.

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