CAPTAIN UNIVERSE VS. THE X-MEN:
4Q2K10 has been a good couple of months for comics. Know how I can tell? Because this thread has lain fallow (with no posts requiring the purchase of a new tpb, I mean) since August. I try to limit myself to one collection of archival material each week, but I also give precedence to new items I have pre-ordered rather than those sitting on the shelves. That means Annihilation: Conquest volume two has been bumped from my weekly purchases for the past sixteen weeks in a row due to merchandise I pre-ordered!
I must admit that before I proceeded on to Annihilation: Conquest V2 I re-read Annihilation: Conquest V1, just to get myself back in the proper mindset. Then I went back and re-read my thoughts on V1 from August 25 (page 5 of this thread), just to make sure my past and present selves are in synch. (They are, in this case, but that doesn’t always happen.) I really needn’t’ve bothered, though, as the stories I’ve read so far in V2 are more-or-less self-contained.
ANNIHILATION CONQUEST V2:
NOVA #4-7: These four issues read almost like a mini-series featuring a new Nova, the Kree Captain Ko-Rel, newly drafted as Nova Centurion to replace Nova Prime Richard Ryder, now infected by the Phalanx Virus. (The similarities to HIV/AIDS are unmistakable.) It’s a continuation of the overall Annihilation: conquest storyline, yes, but because this is Nova’s first encounter with the virus, everything the new reader needs to know is contained in these four issues. But Ko-Rel’s tenure as Nova Centurion is not as happy or successful as when Richard Ryder took over from Rhomann Dey.
NOVA #8-12 and ANNUAL #1: These issues are not included in the Annihilation Conquest V2 tpb, but Alan M. says they go here, and my long-held motto has been, “If you can’t trust Alan M., who can you trust?” [Also, here’s a long overdue public “thank you” to Alan for sending me the volume under discussion!] Marvel agrees with Alan, too, however, because they’ve inserted a re-cap of these issues between Nova 37 and Wraith #1 in the A:C V2 tpb. I can kinda see why Marvel left these issues out. They are less directly involved with the overall storyline, plus, if they were to include nine issues of Nova plus an annual, it all of a sudden becomes less of an Annihilation collection and more of a Nova collection.
This collection is worthwhile if for no other reason than the introduction of Cosmo, the talking Russian astronaut dog. The long arm of co-incidence reaches out once again as Nova traces the Phalanx virus to its home planet, which turns out to be none other than that of the alien machine entity Warlock, featured in New Mutants for a time in the 1980s. I never was too big of a fan of that character and thought he/it was an ill fit for the mutants (despite him actually being a mutant of his own race, as it turns out), and this tie-in seems about as logical as the planet which repaired Voyager 6 and sent it on its merry way (as revealed in Star Trek: TMP) turning out to be the Borg homeworld (as revealed in one of William Shatner’s Star Trek novels). Having said that, though, I enjoyed reading this appearance of the character more than any other Warlock story I have ever read, so there’s that.
I’ll be back with my thoughts on Wraith #1-4.
Micronauts Special Edition #2 has a text page by Mantlo describing the origin of the series in the inside front cover.
I think Mantlo was a better writer than he gets credit for having been. His earlier work was always readable and entertaining, and more reliably so than some more admired writers'. He devised some good concepts for Micronauts, especially the sinister Body Banks, and he gave Baron Karza the menace of a top villain.