Normally when I do these things I prefer to pick books that are older than just 5 years but this is something of an occasion. I’m sure you’ve all heard of this little thing Marvel has going called Age Of Ultron featuring Marvel’s resident psycho-bot finally succeeding in taking over Earth and making a mess of everything. Well, in light of the attention Ultron is getting I figured it would be fun to go back and take a look at another event where Ultron was the main baddie.
So, let’s get the vitals out of the way: Annihilation: Conquest ran from August 2007 through June 2008. It was told through a grand total of 23 books: a Prologue followed by a mini-series featuring Ronan, Quasar, and a new character Wraith, and Nova #4-7. It would wrap up in the 6-issue Annihilation: Conquest series. The talent involved included Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, Keith Giffen, Christos Gage, Tom Raney, Kyle Hotz, and many more. It was a fairly extensive event but the way it was told allowed it to flow smoothly and not feel as overwhelming as it should have been. Honestly, it didn’t feel like a 23-book event when I was buying it. Now that that’s out of the way, what was this whole thing about…
*Considering how big this event was, I’m going to be passing over a lot of stuff but all that means is you’ll have plenty of surprises when you grab this story!*
Annihilation: Conquest is the follow-up to Annihilation, the big event that made Annihilus a serious threat to the Marvel Universe as well as pulling Nova, Quasar, Super-Skrull, and Ronan The Accuser into the spotlight in a big way. Honestly, Nova was always a character I couldn’t have cared less about if I tried but after this story I became a big fan, even sticking with the character after the event as well as picking up Essential Nova, Volume 1. But how do you follow-up an event where even the mighty Galactus fell victim to Annihilus and Drax The Destroyer finally fulfilled his purpose in killing Thanos (who later got better… again)? Well, you pick up at the end.
While Phyla-Vell, now called Quasar, and her girlfriend Moondragon were doing their part to protect the innocent, Quasar was also being contacted by a voice. Who and why would become clear later but while this was going on Peter Quill, formerly known as Starlord, was working with the Kree and their new leader Ronan to improve their defense system after it and much of the Kree Empire was destroyed by the Annihilation Wave. He does this with the aid of the Space Knights who have come to install some of their tech into the Kree Battlenet.
From here, both Quasar and Moondragon and the Kree empire are attacked. At first it isn’t clear what’s going on but soon enough the ones responsible make themselves known. The main focus of the action here is on the Kree as their Sentries begin to attack their masters. As the chaos spreads across the planet, and as Quasar and Moondragon manage to destroy the Sentry that attacked them, the Sentries on Hala, the Kree Homeworld, begin to converge in the middle of their biggest city and create a spire of sorts. This is where things begin to get bad: once the spire is complete a ‘massive energy pulse’ is released and seemingly does nothing. We soon find out it did a lot. But back on Hala the enemy takes form as the Phalanx revels in its Conquest.
That was just in the prologue issue. From there we launch into four different books:
In Quasar, Phyla continues to try to master her new role as Guardian of the Universe as well as coming to grips with the fact that her power is draining fast and that pesky voice in her head is drawing her someplace, a place the Phalanx wants to get to first because whoever the voice is… it’s either a major threat or a weapon. Quasar is also fighting a battle within herself as a darkness inside her grows. The ending of her series gives us a clue as to who and what the voice was guiding her to. Then there is the source of the voice itself,something with a very big connection to the Kree Empire! They find a cocoon of sorts, one long time Marvel fans were familiar with.
In Starlord Peter is drafted by the Kree to launch an attack against the Phalanx in order to regain their world. They know that tech is the enemy but really have to knowledge of how to fight a low tech war, but humans do and humans are expendable. They give him a team to work with, equally expendable, a team that includes the self-professed Cosmic Madonna: Mantis, the Shi’ar Deathcry, another human with the powers of Captain Universe, from the Microverse: Bug, and finally: Rocket Raccoon and Groot. Their story is more Inglorious Bastards than Guardians Of The Galaxy but make no mistake: this story sets the foundations to what would become the Guardians and is well worth the read!
In Nova #4-7 we really learn what the Phalanx did: they actually took Kree Space and ‘shifted’ it so it was no longer connected to the rest of the universe! This was so they could complete their conquest without outside interference, I imagine they were thinking the likes of the Avengers or the Silver Surfer, and fully take over the Kree and anyone else in their space before spreading their empire to the rest of the Marvel Universe. Needless to say it wasn’t easy for Nova to fight this fight. First he was very nearly killed and the Nova Force transferred itself to a Kree survivor, then after healing enough to regain the power he had to deal with the Phalanx possessed Drax and Gamora. But he didn’t come through this without taking on a lot of damage and tasting what the Phalanx offered!
Then there’s the new kid. Wraith followed the mysterious entity who would come to call himself Wraith. The Phalanx wanted him dead because there was something about him that made them feel fear. He was on his own mission and it was tied to his childhood, his father, and the symbiote-like entity that made him what he is. Along his quest he meets up with Ra-Venn who kind of reminds me of the character White Raven who appeared in Silver Surfer: Dangerous Artifacts back in 1996. She is hoping to use whatever powers Wraith has to fight the Phalanx. But things go south when they are captured and they see that Ronan has been taken by them; it’s even worse when they find the Super-Skrull and what they did to him.
All these books then converged in Annihilation: Conquest #1 where we see Blastaar getting involved as well as the long-awaited return of a Marvel Icon: Adam Warlock! Adam saves Quasar and Moondragon and then turns to the one guy he knows who can help him adjust to his new form and powers: The High Evolutionary. Meanwhile, Wraith, Ronan, and the Super-Skrull head to get some help from the only people left unaffected by the Phalanx and some of the special selects of the Phalanx have to answer to the real mind behind the Conquest as Ultron remakes his body and takes a more direct role in the event.
From here, Ultron specifically targets Warlock. We soon learn that despite the robots hatred to humans, he sees Warlock as the perfect vessel for his consciousness. Wraith and crew form an alliance of sorts with Ravenous, one of the remaining heads of the Annihilation Wave that now rules a planet in the Kree Empire, in order to gain access to a platoon of Sentries that aren’t connected to the Kree Warnet and so aren’t infected with the Phalanx. Starlord and his crew discover the Spire created at the beginning of this story hold more significance and make that their prime target.
This is where things get out of control. We get a few new players, I’ll just say there is more than one character named Warlock in this story, and the death of a longtime character. Ultron’s involvement with the Phalanx makes him a major threat, and yes, it’s explained how he meets and takes them over.
Now, I am overlooking a lot of things that happen in this story mostly because there is a lot that happens here. I’ve read this story and its predecessor numerous times and it’s always an amazing read. It’s mostly because I like how the story was presented, by using separate miniseries to introduce the different characters, you were able to get a full feel for the size and scope of the event without it feeling rushed or getting overwhelmed by it. The same format was used for the original Annihilation and that’s also a great re-read.
Also, if you’re looking forward to the new Guardians Of The Galaxy (out next week) or the upcoming movie of the same title, this is the story that lays the groundwork for what would become the Guardians. And you shouldn’t worry about the number of books that makes up the story, you can get the collected edition in two easy to handle trades available at finer comic shops and on Amazon.
I do recommend it!