I am a fan of Marvel’s “cosmic” characters but I haven’t been following them for some years now (not since 2004, I reckon). I’ve tried to keep my mind in over the years [including Thunderbolts #100 (2006), the Civil War: The Return one-shot (2007) and the five-issue Captain Marvel limited series and The Mighty Avengers #19 (both 2008)], but none of those really seemed to strike my fancy. I don’t know what caused me to pick up the Thanos Imperative: Ignition one-shot a couple of weeks ago, but I had previously read the six-issue “Samaritan” story (Thanos #7-12) by Giffen and Lim (i.e., “someone other than Starlin”), so I figured what the hell.

I know from previous experience that mentioning Jim Starlin’s name is immediately going to polarize the opinions of those reading this, but to them I say to re-read (or read) his last major “cosmic” trilogy for Marvel (Infinity Abyss #1-6, Marvel: The End #1-6 and Thanos #1-6) in a single sitting (as I did just this morning) before rebutting.

Reading Thanos Imperative: Ignition was like opening the floodgates to the past several years’ worth of Marvel’s “cosmic” comics and doing so convinced me that someone other than Starlin can write cosmic Marvel comics. Initially my intention had been to follow just the Thanos Imperative limited series, but after two issues, discussions with Alan and Dagwan, and some research on my own, I decided to backtrack and pick up some of the series I had inadvertently “trade waited.”

I the days to come I will be starting at two different points in the cosmic timeline: at the very beginning with the Annihilation Book 1 tpb (collecting Drax the Detroyer #1-4, Annihilation: Prologue one-shot, and Nova #1-4) as well as Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 (collecting issues #1-6). In addition, I will be discussing future issues of Thanos Imperative in this thread as they are released.

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IIRC, Quasar first appeared in Captain America as Marvel Man, one of the Super Agents of SHIELD. The others were Blue Streak and the Vamp who were really villains and the Texas Twister who was portrayed as a villain in his first two appearances in Fantastic Four. One out of four: not a good average!
Also Iron Man#55 was the first appearances of Mentor, Eros (Starfox) and someone called Thanos. From little acorns do mighty oaks grow!
Figserello said:
Gosh, you are thorough.

I try. And that includes reading...

ANNIHILATION CLASSIC TPB:

This is a really nice collection which I almost bought when it was first released even though I had no intention at the time of reading Annihilation. I already own everything in this collection except the Rocket Raccoon limited series (which I have never read), but I recently found this collection online for half price and I would have paid that for Rocket Raccoon by itself; that every story in this tpb ties together is only icing on the cake.

Tales to Astonish #13: “I Challenged… Groot! The Monster from Planet X!” has been reprinted a number of times, but I re-read it every time it comes my way. I first encountered Groot (along with Goom, Taboo, Diablo, Blip and Xemnu, the Living Titan) from Marvel’s “Atlas” days back in Hulk Annual #5 in 1976. I’ve always liked when Marvel has brought characters from their “monster” titles into the mainstream, and I can hardly wait to see how they utilize Groot in Annihilation and/or Guardians of the Galaxy.

Marvel Premiere #1: Of all the comics in this collection, I have re-read “And Men Shall Call Him… Warlock!” most often. Roy Thomas takes two great Lee/Kirby characters, the High Evolutionary (from Thor and Tales to Astonish) and Him (from Fantastic Four and Thor), and melds them together into a superhero series with messianic overtones. See my previous discussion here.

Nova #1: Okay, it’s been only a week since I read this reprinted in The Origin of Richard Rider, but I would have bought that one-shot anyway, even if I’d’ve know at the time I’d be buying the Annihilation Classics tpb, because I dig Golden, silver and Bronze Age comics reprinted using today’s coloring techniques. I could start a whole discussion on that topic (more than one, actually)... and have.

Logan’s Run #6: It’s funny… I had never read this odd story of Drax and Thanos from 1977 until a few weeks ago, and now I’ve seen it three times in the past month!

Marvel Spotlight #6: Star-Lord is a character of truly unusual vintage. I’ve examined the character in-depth before here, but “The Saga of the Star-Lord” from Marvel Spotlight #6 does a good job of distilling the character to its essence for the move from black & white to color comics.

Quasar #1: I started a discussion of Quasar’s solo series once before but never finished it. What happened was, my LCS ran a huge sale just as I was getting underway and someone bought the series out from under me!

Bug #1: This mini-series is far enough into the future of the current ongoing Mircronauts discussion that I don’t think I’ll be stepping on Figserello’s toes by dealing with it here. This one-shot is a light-hearted romp through Marvel’s history as Bug and Annihilus go tumbling through the past fighting for possession of the Cosmic Control Rod (and may even help to explain why Captain Marvel’s Nega-bands all of a sudden started shunting Rick Jones to the Microverse instead of the Negative zone during PAD’s run come to think of it).

That takes care of everything except Rocket Raccoon #1-4 which I plan to handle separately.
The Blood Brothers were among the first “cosmic” characters introduced by Jim Starlin back in Iron Man #55 and Marvel Feature #12

I actually have 'La Vita Di Capitane Marvel' which collects these and other books. It was a gift from an Italian lady friend long ago. I started translating it, but didn't get very far past the first sentence: 'Ascolta me, Iron Man" Uttered by our very own Drax as it happens.

I first encountered Groot (along with Goom, Taboo, Diablo, Blip and Xemnu, the Living Titan) from Marvel’s “Atlas” days back in Hulk Annual #5 in 1976.

This was one of the earliest Hulk stories I read and even then I was impressed by how Hulk used low cunning to beat his foes as much as strength. It's a fun story and I recently bought a copy of the UK hardback annual that I first read it in.

Strange that Hulk only had 4 annuals before 1976!

I’ve always liked when Marvel has brought characters from their “monster” titles into the mainstream, and I can hardly wait to see how they utilize Groot in Annihilation and/or Guardians of the Galaxy.

Did you read the recent-ish (to bargain-bin back-issue me) Marvel Monsters One-shots. All the ones I read were good. I particularly liked the one about the 50s monsters led by a shrunken Fin Fang Foom. Was that Goom, son of Groot in that one?

Logan’s Run #6! I wasn't expecting that... How bizarre.

Marvel Spotlight #6 Is this the Claremont/Byrne comic? Have it somewhere...

What happened was, my LCS ran a huge sale just as I was getting underway and someone bought the series out from under me!

That happened to me recently. An extensive run of Byrne FFs, including multiple copies of several issues. I got the anniversary issue with our heroes trapped in Doomtown, but when I came back a few days later to get more they were all gone. There's still some love out there for old-school Byrne, it seems.

Regarding the Bug/Captain Marvel connection, I'll probably jump into PAD's Captain Marvel comics after Micronauts. I've read the first few issues and there seems to be a lot there for fans of PAD's Hulk. It felt very like a sequel, actually. Won't be anytime too soon though...
Did you read the recent-ish Marvel Monsters One-shots?

I did. I have a soft spot for Marvel’s monsters and a long-box of them which is almost-but-not-quite full, and that’s where I filed the one-shots. I thought they were okay, if a little too light-hearted for my taste. (More about that when I get to the Rocket Raccoon mini.) I did buy the Annihilation Book 2 tpb yesterday so you may expect my thoughts on Silver Surfer, Super-Skrull and Ronan early next week (or over the weekend if I’m feeling particularly motivated).

Was that Goom, son of Groot in that one?

Oh, Figs! You need a lesson in Marvel Monster genealogy! Everyone knows that Googam is the son of Goom! :P Although all three are apparently from Planet X (now that I think about it), Goom and Groot are not related. Or is that revelation yet to come? Could Googam be the grandson of Groot? I think I’m geeking out!

Is this the Claremont/Byrne comic?

No (but that is a good one). The first appearance of Starlord was written by Steve Englehart. As Steven Grant pointed out in the introduction to Starlord, The Special Edition, “Our hero’s first appearance, drawn by Steve Gan and published in Marvel Preview #4, was very successful as a black-and-white magazine. Englehart had made him pretty unconventional, for a space opera hero, rooting his origin in mysticism and astrology rather than science. And his actions were anything but traditional: to become Starlord, the young Peter Quill was willing to lie, steal, cheat or kill. Englehart envisioned the series as a trilogy delineating the rising and advancing of Quill from the repressed, mean-spirited adolescent to guardian of the univrse. As chance would have it, the editorial policy on Marvel Preview was to tackle some new concept every issue and wait for reader reaction before following up on anything. By the time the jury was in on Starlord, Englehart had moved on, leaving the trilogy uncompleted.”

The Claremont/Byrne story (from Marvel Preview #11) was the character’s second appearance. Re-tooled for a post-Star Wars audience, Starlord dropped the astrology and became a 52-page science fiction epic tour de force. In the hands of Claremont and Byrne, the new Starlord was still interesting, but no longer unique. They dropped the astrology angle and mad Peter Quill a little less twisted than in the first story.

After several more appearances in Marvel magazines, Starlord made the switch to comic books with Marvel Spotlight #6-7 and Marvel Premiere #61. The first comic book appearance retells the origin and smoothes out some of the rough edges between the character’s original first and second appearances. Actually, Marvel Spotlight #6 (the story reprinted in the Annihilation Classics tpb) is not only a good introduction to the character but a good “prequel” (of sorts) to the Claremont/Byrne version reprinted in the Starlord Special Edition.
Rocket Raccoon #1-4:

“What?! Hulk has to share his 20th anniversary issue with puny talking animal?”

That was pretty much my exact same reaction when I saw the cover to the 271st issue of my first favorite character. After reading it, I was even motivated to fire off a negative letter (but don’t bother looking for it in your backissues; it was never printed). I remember writing that the introduction of Rocket Raccoon not only ruined the Hulk’s 20th anniversary issue, but the memory of a good (I may have said “great”) song as well. I went on to say thet the worst thing about it was that so little was revealed about the “Keystone Quadrant” that a return appearance was almost guaranteed. When Rocket Raccoon was later granted his own four-issue limited series you can rest assured I gave it a wide pass.

Flash forward a couple of decades to July 23, 2010: Alan M. posts some Mike Mignola artwork from an upcoming Rocket Raccoon and Groot mini-series. “Looks good,” I think to myself. “If Michael Mignola would have done the art on the first Rocket Raccoon limited series, maybe I would have bought it. To tell you the truth, I had no idea who had drawn it, but if you had asked me to guess, Mignola wouldn’t have even been on my list of possibilities. Imagine my surprise when I flipped through the Annihilation Classics tpb only to discover… well, you can guess the rest.

It’s just as well I didn’t read Rocket Raccoon 25 years ago because I wouldn’t have liked it. (I took my comic books much more seriously in those halcyon days than I do now.) In the intervening years, though, I have come to accept the world of Poot in GrimJack, Baby Boom and Kritter in Infinity, Inc. and Ch’p in Green Lantern Corps. I don’t know how much of the initial premise SPOILERSgenetically enhanced animals created to be caretakers to the mentally imbalanced END SPOILERS is going to be carried forward into Annihilation, but I found the initial mini-series to be quite entertaining, well worth the price I paid for the tpb even without all the other stories.

Interestingly, Keith Giffen is credited as “co-creator” in the first two issues, so who better to bring this characters back? As the story ends, Rocket and friends are heading out of the Keystone quadrant in search of other worlds in need of aid. The final caption reads, “And whether they shall FIND them, only YOU… and the FUTURE… can say.” Now we are all in the future, I say, Yes!”
ANNIHILATION BOOK 2

Silver Surfer #1-4:

The Silver Surfer should always have his own series. No, I don’t mean that. The Surfer should always have his own series as long as it’s good. Ever since the Surfer was released from his imprisonment on Earth, I like to think these are the types of adventures he has whether I am reading his series at a given time or not. This story is more than merely a Silver Surfer story, though; it’s set against the backdrop of the Annihilation Wave, but it features all of Galactus’ former heralds. Measured against the ‘80s standard for mini-series, the development in this series is that [SPOILER] at the end, the Silver Surfer has once again become the Herald of Galactus. [END SPOILER]

Super-Skrull #1-4:

On the Skrull home world in a secret laboratory they modified a chromosome and so begins the story of a Skrull whose nearly impossible chore is to battle and defeat the Fantastic Four. He's Super Skrull--incredible! He's as geechy as Nietzsche and that's no bull. Though to us he seems preposterous,it's really not for us to just pass a rash judgement on the Super Skrull, cause his left arm can stretch like it's made out of plastic: it's as elastic as Mr. Fantastic. His right arm's got orange rocks for skin: from the shoulder down he's as strong as big Ben Grimm.

He can turn one leg invisible, which really isn't all that practical. Unless you're extremely gullible you won't be fooled by Super Skrull. His other leg is flammable (the same thing as inflammable): he crossed his legs and then he learned his invisible leg could still get burned. Though his appearance is comical and raises many questions anatomical, his features aren't as malleable as the features of his fellow Skrull.

From his hat down to his shoes he wears unstable molecules. He's endorsing RC Cola and cruising chicks with Arnim Zola. He's not even possible, but what the hell, he's Super Skrull! He can't tie his shoes without an oven mitt, and he has a hard time finding shirts that fit. Painfully implausible, technically impossible. Socks? He's got a closet full. His favorite band is Jethro Tull. He's not just any ordinary Skrull, he's Super Skrull!


Ronan #1-4:

Of the three mini-series collected in this tpb, this is the one I enjoyed the most. What I liked about it was the unusual combination of characters one might not normally expect to be seen in the same story together. It’s like discovering a recipe of common ingredients mixed together in an unusual and unanticipated way. This story includes interaction between and among such diverse characters as Ronan, Tana Nile, Gamora, Nebula and Glorian, and that’s what makes this story delicious! Sometimes writers speak of characters “writing themselves” and I’ll bet that was true to a certain extent in this story.
I was worried you'd made up that little Super-Skrull poem, but I see its a real song. I'm learning a lot about music this week in the captain's cave.

What a fine world we live in! :-)
Did not mean to imply credit for Super-Skrull!

Everyone reading this (who hasn't already) should go to CDBaby.com and buy "Super Secret" by Ookla the Mok!

Best comic book geek album ever!
Maybe you folks are aware of it already - Steve Englehart has a blog on Tor.com called "From Comics to Cosmic".
Super-Skrull 1-4

What I liked about this was that Super-Skrull was still more or less a blood-thirsty sadistic villain even though he was the hero of the book. It'd be a bit of a cop-out to change his character for his own series, but its been done with other villains.

What I didn't like was that his little mechanic sidekick's change of heart towards the end of this story wasn't very believable. His betrayal was just tacked on to give the last issue a twist.

The series also touched on some interesting aspects of a society of shape-changers. Why would Ry'kin take the form of a diminuitive adolescent? Come to think of it, even if you cut off a skrull's arms and legs, wouldn't they just shape-change/project a few replacement limbs to take their place? Maybe they'd have less body mass then, but perhaps that could be fixed with a fried chicken diet?

Ronan 1-4

I liked the art. A kind of busy over-stuffed stained-glass look that you don't see too often. Good to see something different.

All these Annihilus minis run up against a kind of structural problem for me. It touches on what you said about all the characters appearing together. That they are all picked from the first 30 years of Marvel Comics means that when they die, well, they don't really die, do they? Tana and Super-Skrull will be back, no? They will have to return, as this whole series shows that new characters aren't forthcoming, and y'know they are Kirby Kreations and all...

That's a pity as the Super-Skrull gets a good send-off! Quaser's wasn't bad either.

I don't have the Silver Surfer mini, but I'm slowly putting together what happened in it from the Nova Corps Files, which amalgamates all the info relevant to Annihilation to just before that series starts. For latecomers. Some of it shows another problem with this mix-n-match approach. I don't know if Gabriel Air-walker appeared in the Surfer mini, but we get a write-up on his history (He's some guy, no he's an android duplicate of some guy...)

Anyway, it mentions his hyperspace attuned horn for summoning Galactus. Years ago, I read the comic where he first did that and it was a great apocalyptic image. Even though I was only young, I'd heard enough of the bible of a sunday to tie it to the end of days and all that. But in the context of a galaxy-spanning Post-Tarantino, Post-Eastwood tough-guy sci-fi story, much of which was being written by the guys who did the Warhammer 40k novelisations, the horn was just silly...

Anyhoo, once I have read the acres of tedium that make up the Nova Corps Files pages, I'll be ready to jump into the Annihilation series itself. (The files comic would be more interesting if it gave some comic numbers and dates so I could fit these characters into Marvel's history. As it is I just have to go by the drawings at the bottom of each page, lifted from the different comics the character has appeared in. Gamorra seems to have a very laughable pedigree going by the mid-90's scratchings at the foot of her entry.)

My feeling so far is that its all just a little too mechanistic. Here are the pieces, the corporate properties. Here's a story to fit them all into. But what do the writers have to say, really? Not much, it seems to me.
I didn’t have anything to say about the Super-Skrull series (other than it was my least favorite of the three collected in Book 2), but I agree with your critique 100%. I haven’t given up on this discussion, I’ve just take a little break. I bought Book 3 last week as a matter of fact, but I didn’t get around to reading it over the weekend. I hope to get to it this coming weekend, but yesterday’s was a particularly rich haul.

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