A prison ship called the Kyln, which is detaining several galactic criminals bursts into flames and crashes on Earth. The most notable surviving criminals are Paibok the Power Skrull who was a frequent foe of the Fantastic Four, and Drax the Destroyer a former member of Warlock's Infinity Watch. They land in a town in Alaska, and from there Paibok plans to takeover the place in an attempt to escape the planet. -summary
During the year of 2006, Marvel was just beginning to turn up the heat hammering us with one crossover after another. Civil War was picking up steam and since it had been built up and hyped over a period of time, it garnered nearly everyone's full attention. I mean after all, that was the mega event to continue reshaping the Marvel U as we knew it. However, that was on Earth. But what about our friends roaming the stars and The Milky Way? Well they found themselves in a little crossover titled Annihilation. It began with a slow start and eventually turned into something. If the story was memorable for anything, then it was more than likely due to it actually making Richard Rider aka Nova, formerly of the New Warriors, one of the most interesting characters in the Marvel U when he received an extensive power upgrade by inheriting the Nova Force, and getting his own series once again. Annihilation Book One the first of three, written by Keith Giffen, Dan Abnett, and Andy Lanning collects Annihilation: Drax the Destroyer 1 - 4, Annihilation: Nova1 -4, and Annihilation Prologue.
The book is broken up into three parts; the first four issues takes place on Earth and pretty much follows the basic good vs. evil formula. Drax the Destroyer is quite different from before, as he seems to shift from the big dumb idiot to intelligent when in battle. His story is kind of hard to get through mainly because the characters and overall setting are just too uninteresting. Even though I liked Drax as part of Warlock's Infinity Watch, it was just a struggle to re-read this. The action became boring fast watching him brawl with the Blood Brothers which seem to last forever. This story sees him going through a physical change, this plot element is relevant later on, but it does nothing to make this story even marginally interesting. There's another character introduced by the name of Cammi, a 10 year old girl who wears the need of an adult figure on her sleeve. Her spunky attitude is the only thing of interest going on here. This story is without a doubt Keith Giffen on auto-pilot.
Things begin to heat up in the second story which is Annihilation Prologue. Drax and Cammi find themselves held captive by the Nova Corp. The Nova Corp act as the galactic police of the universe taking on all threats to universal peace. If you think this sounds like The Green Lanterns of DC Comics, then you will be right. Their home planet Xandar is viciously attacked by a heavily armed armada, which is later revealed to be the Annihilation Wave led by Fantastic Four enemy Annihilus. It's unclear what he's after at this point, but the destruction that he leaves behind indicates he means business. This attack results in the entire Nova Corp being killed leaving Richard Rider as the sole survivor, and the supercomputer of the Nova Corp called the Worldmind bonds with him. This part of the story which concludes within Annihilation: Nova saves this book completely.
Nova's story is fun all around as he deals with his survivors guilt, plus bickers with the Worldmind, and together with Drax they must defend themselves from the Annihilation Wave. The action and storytelling is gripping, and along the way many characters who inhabit the cosmos make appearances, such as Thanos of Titan, Ronan the Accuser, Silver Surfer, and even Quasar. Believe it or not though, this is actually a problem. The only people who will actually enjoy this story are those who are very well rounded in Marvel's cosmic character line up. I may not be wrong if I said almost all of these characters are either completely or borderline obscure. Casual fans will see faces they don't know and this will immediately put them off. They may figure out something big is developing, but the poor character development is going to detach them from those story elements. The only way I can possibly see them buying into this, is if they fall for Nova; and thanks to the dialog, his attitude, there's a chance that can happen.
There are various artist who dealt out the illustrations, and they range from either below average to plain average. The backgrounds during the Annihilation Wave attack are among the best, as you get plenty of cruiser ship battles. There's plenty of shooting, plus Nova and Quasar deliver some good action segments. You even get an out of the blue character death, that I definitely didn't see coming back then. The main thing about the artwork I like is that you can feel the otherwordly sci-fi setting. It doesn't feel like an Earth style story at all. There are some interesting character designs of aliens, Nova's new outfit, plus Annihilus looks decent enough. There are some missteps with Drax looking very bland in the beginning with no type of cool details to him at all. The book is easy on the eyes for the most part.
Annihilation Book One sets some of the stage for things to come. Personally, I feel this book is mainly for knowledgeable fans. Others can come into it but they would have to be open-minded here if their only exposure is mainstream Earth-based heroes and villains. Had the first story been shorter, with more attention towards character development it would have been more accessible.