Annihilators #2

With both features in "Annihilators" getting into the meat of their respective plots, the second issue is an improvement on the first, most notably in the lead story featuring the eponymous superhero team. After the first issue did its best to show us why this congregation of heavy hitters was a bad idea that couldn't possibly work, this issue demonstrates just how well the team operates when everyone works together and doesn't fumble over one another. At the same time, the Rocket Raccoon and Groot story gets more into the plot, but still has problems finding a tone that's consistent and works.

The return of the Dire Wraiths is the sort of big cosmic threat that suits the Annihilators. Their response to that threat is, at first, amateurish. While refreshing to see five powerful characters stumble over one another, one issue was enough, and, aside from a brief repetition of the group's problems last month, seeing the team in action and kicking butt is really entertaining. There's a nice groove they get into and you can see why the idea of these five teaming up is so appealing. The addition of a sixth member, the Spaceknight Ikon adds some tension to the mix as she works against the group at times through her enthusiasm.

But, where the plot clicking into place helps the Annihilators story, it doesn't do much to improve the adventures of Rocket Raccoon and Groot. The writing on that story tries to do too much and never settles on one tone. It's not funny enough to be a comedy, not crazy enough to be a fun romp, not serious enough to be taken seriously, and that lack of consistent tone makes it somewhat of a chore to read.

It's easy to admire the ideas behind the story, and Timothy Green II's artwork points to a cartoony, wacky adventure strip, particularly when woodland and plant creatures show up. Even then, the plot is so start-and-stop that none of the theoretically funny or crazy story ideas gain any traction. If there was a clear indication of what Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning were going for, the story would be much better off.

Green's art has a wonderful cartoony style that lends itself to slapstick craziness. He doesn't have the material to work with to realize that style fully, however. His visuals carry the strip a lot more than they should have to. Conversely, Tan Eng Huat's work, while technically competent, doesn't impress as much. He's smoothed out his style a lot for "Annihilators" and that makes his art less distinctive and more like any random comic you'll find on the shelf. The over-the-top look of Doctor Dredd is the only time that Huat's rougher, more offbeat stylistic elements come out. There's nothing wrong with his art, but, for anyone who's been a fan of his work previously, it's disappointing to see work that's less interested and less in the style he's used for so long.

"Annihilators" continues to be a great value with two full-length stories for $4.99, and the second issue is an improvement over the first. Still, the Rocket Raccoon and Groot feature holds the comic back as it flails about for direction and finds none. The Annihilators' story definitely picks up and, hopefully, the direction that both stories get in this issue will mean that next issue will be another improvement.

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