The spaceways of the Marvel Universe are vast, and so are the threats that arise there. Crises like intergalactic wars and interdimensional invasions seem to occur with great frequency in the cosmic corner of the Marvel Universe. These days those large scale threats are handled by an all-star team of heroes whose ranks include: Gladiator of the Shi’Ar Empire; Ronan the Accuser of the Kree; the Space Knight, Ikon; Quasar, the Protector of the Universe; and Beta Ray Bill, an alien of the Korbinite race who wields a mystical hammer as powerful as the one used by Thor. These heroes, collectively known as the Annihilators, routinely fight battles where the fate of planets and the Universe are decided.
Because these battles often unfold millions of miles away, no one on Earth knows of the Annihilators’ existence. That all changes on September 7th when the creative team behind the “Annihilators” miniseries, writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning and artists Tan Eng Huat and Timothy Green II, reunite for a sequel, the four-issue “Annihilators: Earthfall.” CBR News recently conducted an e-mail conversation about the project with series editor John Denning and Abnett and Lanning, who answered their questions collectively as DnA.
CBR News: Let’s kick things off by welcoming editor John Denning to the cosmic corner of the Marvel Universe. For the past several years editor Bill Rosemann has overseen the Marvel Cosmic books including “Nova,” Guardians of the Galaxy,” “The Thanos Imperative” and most recently “Annihilators.” John, what’s it like taking over the franchise from Bill? What do you find most compelling and intriguing about the cosmic corner of the Marvel Universe?
John Denning: I think Bill’s approach to Marvel Cosmic is the same as it’s been since Stan Lee and Jack Kirby: bigger is better! And certainly that philosophy isn’t going anywhere on my watch. The best thing about the cosmic books is that we can alter the landscape far more drastically than earthbound books: societies fall, planets die and anything can happen! With “Earthfall,” we’ll be bringing some of that back to the Sol system.
Let’s talk a little bit about why that scale of action is heading back towards our solar system. Dan and Andy, in “Annihilators” you assembled a team of cosmic heavy hitters whose ultimate goal is tackle intergalactic crises wherever they pop up. What made you want to send these characters to Earth for their second adventure? Was it simply the chance to have them rub shoulders with some heroes like the Avengers? Or were there some other appealing elements as well?
Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning: It was partly that, obviously, but it was more our desire –and the real enthusiasm of the cosmic fans — to see that contrast. Just like when we took Nova back to Earth, it’s often very revealing about cosmic characters when we see them alongside familiar “Earthside” heroes. It really helps define them and it helps explain their remit. It locates them in the MU.
How would you describe the dynamic amongst the Annihilators when “Earthfall” begins? We know these are all very busy characters, have they had a chance to spend some time together since their last adventure? And didn’t the first series end with a possible romance blooming between Quasar and Ikon?
DnA: This mission is EXTREMELY urgent — an ultra priority, so there’s barely time to talk let along socially interact. They’re going in at full throttle to get something done before it’s too late. This is the Annihilators at the top of their game doing what they were created to do — the problem is, it’s Earth, not some desolate rock.
What can you tell us about the events that set “Earthfall” in motion?
DnA: A big threat, about as big as it gets, and it’s focused on Earth. They either shut it down while it’s still building, or they miss their chance. Once it gets too powerful nothing will stop it — and the Universe will suffer.
Earth has been a pretty busy place the past several months with events like “Shadowland,” “Fear Itself,” “Spider-Island” and “Schism.” When Does “Earthfall” take place in relation to those events?
Denning: The Marvel Universe never gets a day off, does it? “Earthfall” takes place post-“Fear Itself,” with everyone still recovering from the trauma. So when the Annihilators arrive, more all-powerful beings falling from the skies and blowing things up, two of them hammer wielders no less, the Avengers are in no mood to ask questions!
Which group of Avengers do the Annihilators run afoul of? What’s it like playing the Annihilators off the Avengers? How would you describe the initial dynamic between these two sets of characters?
DnA: It’s a primary team of Avengers, essentially all that could be assembled at short notice because of the immediacy and urgency — the Annihilators come on like a threat from outer space — there’s no time to be polite or cordial. The Avengers are either in it with them or in the way. It’s simply not possible to pause and say, “Hey, we need to do this, do you guys mind?” The dynamic is very strong: both teams have a remit, and they are not aligned here. It’s not the classic ‘fight by mistake and then join forces.’ This is a clash of interests and perspectives. And the Annihilators have been jokingly referred to as the Cosmic Avengers — you know how powerful they are…
Speaking of perspectives there are a lot of different ones in play between the Annihilators, especially when it comes to Earth. When the team arrives on the planet, who’s going to be the point of view character? Will you follow things from the perspective of one or two of the team members, or will the scope cover all of them?
DnA: There are lots of points of view in this book. This is like a big budget blockbuster movie. We’re going in alongside them all.
It will be interesting to hear all of their thoughts on the various adversaries they’re up against in “Earthfall.” In addition to the Avengers, who we’ve already talked about, the Annihilators will also have to deal with the return of Adam Warlock’s evil doppelganger, the Magus. How dangerous is he now that he’s returned? Previously the Magus was more than a match for the Guardians of the Galaxy, but what makes him a good foil for the Annihilators?
DnA: Magus is a galactic level threat and, like Thanos and Korvac and the other alpha-plus menaces, he’s more than a match for any team. His power level makes him almost impossible to stop.
While “Earthfall” is likely to be new reader friendly, the Magus’ return seems to hint that there will be some homages and nods to past cosmic continuity as well. How extensive will this be? Will you get a chance to check in with characters like Nova’s brother or Darkhawk?
DnA: “Earthfall” certainly fits into the cosmic book continuity, and returning readers will see the links, but it is a perfect jump on for new readers too.
Just as the previous “Annihilators” miniseries did, this one will also feature a backup story featuring former Guardians of the Galaxy members Rocket and Groot. What can you tell us about their further adventures?
DnA: If you though their last adventure was crazy (and it was, with fabulous art by Tim Green!) you should see where this one goes. It’s off the wall!
Denning: This is the comic that will truly make them a franchise!
Dan and Andy, you guys are very busy creators these days, from “New Mutants” at Marvel to “Resurrection Man” at DC Comics and more. If fans vote with their dollars and decide they want more Annihilators after “Earthfall,” would you be ready, willing, and able? And do you know where you’d like to take these characters next?
DnA: Yes, yes, yes and absolutely we do!
What else can you share with us about “Annihilators: Earthfall?”
Denning: Dan and Andy have really been the new kings of Marvel Cosmic, and we’re finally bringing everything they’ve wrought back to Earth, not just in “Annihilators,” but “FF” and more as we move into next year. “Earthfall” is our first look at how volatile those meeting will be. Meanwhile, Tan Eng Huat is absolutely destroying these pages as Marvel’s two most powerful teams collide. No one else could bring that much raw energy to the visuals!
“Annihilators: Earthfall” #1 by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Tan Eng Huat and Timothy Green II arrives on Earth September 7, 2011.