In 2006, the Marvel Universe was threatened by a crossover comic book event that united its greatest heroes to face an overwhelming threat and helped set the tone for the publisher for years to come. No, not Civil War, but rather the original Annihilation event, spearheaded by Keith Giffen, Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, with a whole host of comic creators bringing together the various cosmic heroes in Marvel's library together to stop the destructive Annihilation Wave. Critically acclaimed, the series spawned several sequels and informed the cosmic side of the publisher's titles for years to follow -- including the formation of the modern Guardians of the Galaxy.
Over a decade since the conclusion of the original event's direct sequel, Annihilation: Conquest, Marvel has launched a new Annihilation event, this time with fan-favorite writer Matthew Rosenberg at the helm. Kicking off in the expanded prologue Annihilation: Scourge Alpha, illustrated by Juanan Ramirez and Cian Tormey, Marvel's latest cosmic crossover introduces a new insidious threat known as the Scourge that proves to deadly for even Annihilus to contain, bursting from the Negative Zone to threaten the entire cosmos leading various spacefaring heroes -- including a certain iconic quartet from Earth -- to band together to save the universe.
This issue very much reads like an extended prologue, introducing the various characters that will continue the story in a series of special one-shots as they each the spread of the Scourge in their own respective way. Interestingly, Rosenberg chooses to focus most of the action on Annihilus -- the main antagonist of the original Annihilation in a nice nod to the first event in the trilogy -- along with fellow Negative Zone antagonist Blastaar. While Rosenberg has a firm handle on both characters' voices, tackling Annihilus with particular glee, the majority of this prologue really is a series of holding actions and last stands with diminishing returns after a relatively abrupt start.
Once Rosenberg establishes the wider threat and expands the scope to the greater Marvel Universe beyond the Negative Zone, the issue really finds its overall footing as Rosenberg seamlessly weaves in more familiar cosmic heroes, with a sequence starring Nova especially effective both as a callback to the original event and just because Rosenberg's fun with the character is evident and infectious.
Ramirez and Tormey's artwork, joined by colorist Federico Blee, really feel does feel like a mix of classic Marvel artists Stuart Immonen and Ron Lim, while also possessing a visual voice of their own. Tormey's inks create a sense of foreboding as the Scourge threat steadily escalates, juxtaposed against Blee's vibrant color palette; a blend of cosmic wonder and the shadow of death. Ramirez's pencils make the Scourge perhaps the most horror-tinged antagonist of any of the previous Annihilation events while each iconic character is rendered as effectively and confidently as expected, Annihilus particularly strong as most of the issue has him take center stage in the face of this new menace.
Annihilation: Scourge Alpha #1 hits the ground running as it quickly introduces a terrifying, unstoppable enemy that even the villains of previous Annihilation events are unable to contain themselves. Classic characters make their colorful introductions as the wonders of the cosmic side of the Marvel Universe faces a new form of death incarnate. Stumbling a bit out the gate, the issue finds its voice as the story expands and assembles its main cast, promising another sci-fi epic in the making, packed with explosive, spacefaring action starring Marvel's cosmic pantheon.
Annihilation: Scourge Alpha #1 is on sale now.