Annihilators #4

The latest in Marvel's cosmic start-and-stop line of books comes to a close with both the Annihilators and the team of Rocket Raccoon and Groot finishing things with their respective enemies. Both stories end well, but lack the gravitas of earlier cosmic work by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. While it's hard to keep doing things that 'Change Everything Forever!' this mini felt a little light, even with lasting consequences to the Spaceknights and Dire Wraiths.

The Rocket Racoon and Groot story never had the expectation of big or lasting changes, obviously a character-based story that focused on the pair of heroes. It's definitely a story that's improved as it's gone, abandoning the uneven attempts at comedy that made the first part feel like it lasted 222 pages instead of 22, and going for a more light action adventure feel. Bringing back the old Adam Warlock villain Star-Thief works, as does the manner in which he's defeated, revealing why a bunch of cute, fuzzy animals were put in charge of an insane asylum.

Timothy Green II's artwork impressed me before he did the Rocket Raccoon story here, but, after seeing his art in this final part, he's made me a fan. His line work is dynamic and clean, and he knows how to compose pages and shots to maximize impact. His rendition of Rocket Raccoon in a dog costume is hilarious because of the facial expressions and poses he draws, along with the absurd juxtaposition between the hero and the evil energy mental projection of the Star-Thief.

As for the book's eponymous lead feature, it continually suffers from a story where everyone in it thinks that this is the most important thing to ever happen and it comes off as anything but. It's hard to say whose fault that lies with; maybe it's me, maybe it's the writers, maybe it's a combination of the two. What seems frustrating is that the idea of the Skrulls being recreated through the Dire Wraiths, a broken down race that poses little future story potential, was stopped since that's rife with possibility. It seems, by the end, all the heroes did was save Marvel readers from interesting stories in the future.

The execution of the action scenes are strong, though. Abnett and Lanning certainly know how to structure a packed climax and Tan Eng Huat shows that he can draw the hell out of it. His cleaner, more streamlined art took some time, but it's grown on me over these four issues. His work here matches the intended tone of the series: a big, blockbuster action comic. His pages have that 'epic' weight to them and that's hard to pull off.

Not everything works in "Annihilators" #4 and it's the weakest cosmic title from Abnett and Lanning in a while. After "The Thanos Initiative," this feels like a breather more than anything. A light romp lacking in cosmic consequences. That's a smart approach, but one that does hold the comic back to a degree. With "Earthfall" on the horizon, hopefully this was just a bump in the road instead of an indicator of a larger problem.

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