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A Big Halloween Treat: An Interview with How It Should Have Ended

30 Oct
Since most everyone who reads Comic Addicts is too old to go trick or treating we decided to give a big ol’ treat anyway. We were able to have a chat with the folks at How It Should Have Ended (HISHE). They were really cool folks who were happy to chat with us.
For those unfamiliar with HISHE it’s a couple of guys, and a gal, who decided that movies didn’t always end the way they felt they should have. So they started doing their own parody endings much to the amusement of many people. We here at Comic Addicts were curious about some of the things over at HISHE and here is what they had to say:

How do you make your movies?

Each cartoon takes at least 3 weeks. We usually spend one week on script writing and primary art (characters we know we are going to use despite the script). Then one week on all the rest of the art and depending on the scope, we would start animating this week as well. It is also during the second week that we do our voice recording, which has to happen before animating so that we have a timeline. Week 3 is final animation, sound editing, and music score. Plus all the graphics. A lot of times this 3 week schedule requires late nights and weekends, so it’s a lot of work.


Is there a storyboard involved?

Yes, we storyboard after we have finalized a script so that we know exactly what art we need to make.



What program (s) do you use?

Adobe Photoshop, Corel Painter, Adobe After Effects, Final Cut



How much planning goes into a movie?

Definitely depends on the movie. There are some cartoons where we know months in advance that we are going to tackle it, so the conversations on scripts start early. Others (like recent theater releases– Avatar, Thor, etc.) we only have a short period of time so there are a lot of late nights.



Are there any audio outtakes from you guys goofing around?

Ha-ha. Sure, there are definitely some funny voice recordings as you might imagine.



Any plans to post the outtakes?

Now that we’ve committed to releasing a new video every Thursday on Youtube, you will definitely be seeing some more behind the scenes stuff. We will probably compile some outtakes. It’s tough since we are not necessarily accustomed to being on camera. J



Now that you’re a web sensation is there more pressure than before when you were doing it just for fun?

Um, YES.



Is it difficult sometimes to be funny?

Yes. The nature of what we do makes it tough sometimes because finding a logical flaw in a film is not always hilarious too. We go through a LOT of re-writes and ultimately we do our best. Different cartoons will lean one way or another sometimes as a result (between logic and silliness).



Are there arguments over how the movie should be?

LOL. What an insightful question. Yes, we definitely disagree sometimes, but ultimately some of our best writing comes from wrestling through different opinions.



Do you sit on pins and needles after a movie gets put up to see how people will react to it?

It’s like you’ve spied on us!! Absolutely. We’re our worst critics. Comments are sometimes really harsh and it’s difficult not to be affected by them. Seeing how a new release does is a big deal around here.



We notice there are a lot of comic book parodies on there, granted there are a lot of comic book movies, but honestly, how big of comic geeks are you?

Truthfully we’re a little late to the party when it comes to comics and ultimately we’re spoofing the movies not the books. But we started going to the San Diego Comic Con 4 years ago and each year we pick up a little more. We’re definitely not experts, but we’re becoming fans for sure.



Has there ever been an issue with copyright over the movies?

No, we definitely fall into parody law. All our art and music is original and meant to be a spoof or a parody.



Has any of the movie studios gotten on your back for what you do?

Not at all. We’ve even received some fun feedback. We have a few friends at Pixar and found out our Toy Story HISHE circulated the building there and the director for Toy Story 3 even tweeted about it!



How big is your fan base?

It’s hard to be exact. As of today (Oct. 11, 11) we have 480,000 subscribers on youtube.



Were you ever inspired by Mystery Science Theater 3000?

Of course! I would say lots of forms of skit and parody comedy have influenced us. Daniel watched Mystery Science Theater 3000 in college and he and his friends definitely laughed at the way they heckled films. I’d say our style is very much influenced by that form of comedy.



What has been the craziest moment or thing to happen at HISHE?

Winning the Streamy Award in 2010 was pretty crazy for us. We were shocked and honored to be among the other nominees.



Any plans for the future for HISHE? Hints maybe?

Hmmm… a hint. Well, we’ll definitely finish off the original Star Wars trilogy. And I imagine we’ll also tackle at least one of the major comic book films coming out next summer.

Thanks a lot for the chat! It’s been fun talking with you folks and keep up the good work!

Visit How It Should Have Ended’s website and suscribe to them on YouTube for the latest videos as well as favorites.
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Give heed to The Marvel Cosmic! (Part 2)

20 Jul

 

Welcome back folks to our final round-up of all things Marvel Cosmic! It’s been great fun for me to dig back into my archives and my brain and reminisce about all the fun I had the first time around reading these comics.
So without any further rambling, lets get down to business and pick up where we left off, for anyone that missed the last one click HERE and check it out – the rest of you follow me:

(and as always the images I’ve used are as high-res as I could find so click to enjoy or download!)

6) GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (ongoing 2008-2010)

Guardian Time b****es!!

With Nova over not too long after A:C and the events over and all, there was a void within with the lack of beautiful story-telling and artwork… but then DnA came to the rescue again! Picking up after the end of Conquest, Peter Quill – the man known as Star-Lord – brought together a most unlikely team: Rocket Raccoon, Mantis, Groot, Drax the Destroyer, Phyla-Vell (the new Quasar) and Gamora.
Together this rag-tag bunch were what he called The Guardians of the Galaxy and Star-Lords intention was to have a team that would be proactive in helping people and saving the galaxy instead of waiting for something like the Annihilation Wars to happen and simply reacting defensively. Its like they say: a good offense is the best defense!
They take up residence in a place called Knowhere which is (and I quote): “Located within what appears to be a severed head of a Celestial floating along The Rip (the extreme outer edge of all Spacetime with no specific physical location), Knowhere acts as a make-shift port of call and observatory of the End of the Universe for intergalactic travelers of all species and from all times.” And the stations head of security is another new addition to the character list who has become a fast-favourite not just for me but for fans around the globe – Cosmo the Russian space-dog. Don’t ask his back-story, he’s a dog in a space suit but has power that I would say is approaching Jean-Grey and Cable’s in some regards – he’s a powerful telepath and and even more powerful telekinetic capable of knocking out two, count em TWO superteams with a single TK blast. Plus a whole load of other stuff, trust me – not a canine to mess with.

You go Cosmo!

The New Adam

In addition we have a story-thread in the series that is important for stuff to come further ahead in this article (isn’t it awesome how its all delicately but definitely connects like a fine web!?) in which we follow the resurrection of a hero called Adam Warlock who is a cosmically powered being. We also see him encounter the “UniversalChurch of Truth” – hey even space isn’t safe from religion – who see him as their new messiah. Warlock basically is a dude that can’t really die, he was dead and found in a cocoon from which he was reborn, thats how we encounter him – and the curious part is the church has a second such cocoon that they can’t open… I’ll leave that right there…
But Im not goint to get into the details of it, two years of stories is a to cover and with a comic like this that became and still is near the absolute top of my list of Best Marvel Comics in the last few years (and arguably all time), well Im going to hope you feel intrigued enough to at least give it a shot – I guarantee you won’t regret it. Topped off by a heart-wrenching finale (yes the series is now “on hiatus”) it is a true master-work.
Filled with action, adventure, loads of great comedy and wit, characters that you love seeing developed masterfully, great art and story-lines that really fire the imagination – if you like good stories and big adventures and most of all space and scifi then this will be a boon to your imagination!

With that out of the way the Marvel Cosmic events take on a different keel now – the big wars with outside parties are done and the Universe is safe for all once again. But those of us who live in the real world know that the nature of people is that they come together when the crap hits the fan but when all is good… well that’s when the real plotting and infighting begins. 
So that brings us to the next two mini-events which you can read selectively – like their predecessors they have a few mini-series that came out along with it

7) WAR OF KINGS (Cross-over event, March-August 2009)
Yet another space-opera filled with heady battles and galactic conflict! Space really is a crazy place to live, maybe we’d be better off living somewhere quieter like Baghdad…
But jokes aside, this is a good follow up to everything that we’ve seen thus far – we’ve seen a quiet (mostly) galaxy torn apart, saved, decimated again and chaos across the board for so long now. We’ve seen the rise and fall of heroes and legends being born, we’ve followed grand adventures and the quiet aftermath of great catastrophe, we’ve seen stories deeply human and personal and massive events that stagger the imagination.

All the players…

Its been a crazy ride and its not over yet folks! After a brief lull since the Annihilation Wars have ended during which the galaxy is slowly rebuilding itself we see new conflict come about – except this time its not an alien armada or evil collective but something closer to home.
Primarily the story centres on an off-shoot of the human race called the Inhumans (for those who are not familiar with them) that were of human stock that ages millions of years ago – during the early days of a war between the alien Kree and Skrull’s – was manipulated by ancient Kree scientists looking to (1) create powerful mutant soldiers to use in war from the strong genetic stock of our lower homo-sapien ancestors and (2) to perhaps find a way to stave of the slowing and eventual stopping of Kree evolution, you see according to the comics the Kree are highly advanced but for reasons they cannot understand their species has (by the present) all but lost any visible evolutionary ability. For those of you that are familiar with and understand what this means – you might know that this is about the saddest state of stagnation possible for any people.
In any case, they created this race of super-powered folks and then for reasons unknown decided to dump the experiment, cut their losses and hit the road leaving their new kiddies all by their lonesome. The Inhumans survived and thrived inseclusion and continued to live hidden from humanity for a long time until eventually discovered and then long story short (hey you want to know more? Ask for a review/rundown or just go read the comics! More fun that way) they ended up living in their own city on the moon, ruled by the Inhuman royal family under King Black Bolt – a truly powerful being, one who never speaks because his voice is so powerful that a whisper could level buildings. At the least.

You HAVE to see this full size!

Our latest saga follows the Inhumans coming to the conclusion that the Kree are a stagnant and failing race and need new blood – literally! – to take up the reins and bring them out of their many millennia long slump. They return like prodigal children and the Inhuman royal family becomes the Kree’s new royal family as Princess Crystal of the Kree is to marry Ronan the Accuser (remember him?) – a grand event to bring the two peoples together. Unfortunately the wedding is interrupted by Emperor Vulcan of the Shi’ar who is a crazed war-mongering expansionist, having taken the throne by force and ruling through the same.
The Shi’ar would be familiar to fans of the X-Men franchise as that is where they were introduced waaaay back during the Dark Phoenix story-line. Basically the Shi’ar Empire (or Imperium as they like to call it) are a young empire combining many worlds and people’s and are the youngest of the BIG-THREE space empires in the Marvel Universe along-side the Kree and the Skrulls – they are also arguably the most powerful.

The Darkhawks

The event also carries not one but TWO mini-series centred around an old-school character called Darkhawk that introduces more new concepts (I quite like this one actually) to the bigger picture. The two series are “War of Kings: Darkhawk” and War of Kings: Ascension” and in them we follow a young Earth-hero named Chris Powell, who you will be familiar with if you followed my order here and had read Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy. Chris is approached by someone named Talon wearing Darkhawk armour much like his own and in a nutshell explains that Darkhawks were a basically like the Nova Corp but even bigger and more behind the scene’s and big-picture: imagine if the Nova are the police or FBI of the Marvel cosmos, the Darkhawks were the Mossad. So between these two series we follow Darkhawk as he gets drawn into this massive galactic conflict and tries to find his place and role with all this new information. Is Talon telling him the truth? Can he trust him and should he? Read the series to find out and trust me, in some ways its the highlight of the entire event in terms of quality of overall story.

King Blastaar

The Darkhawk story also introduces readers to another power-player in this cosmic drama – Blastaar, the new self-crowned king of the Negative Zone, taking over from the now overthrown Annihilus. Even the Cosmic Control Rod of the former bug-king comes into play and now we have a fourth side in this already overwhelmed cosmos – could it get any worse? Check it out and see for yourself.

One wicked image!

Lastly, the event tie’s into both the Nova and Guardian’s of the Galaxy ongoing series which I should hope you would be reading anyway because required reading or not, they are two of Marvel’s best books in decades! Even Adam Warlock gets involved and tries to use his massive powers to contain the damage The Fault is doing to space and time and reality itself and lets just say it starts to affect him.
I can’t go much further into the event itself without giving away precious spoilers but suffice to say its an intensely paced and full of action and drama and a worthy successor to the events and series that came before it.
For someone like me I love the undertones like this that Marvels Cosmic books have carried for those that care to think about them – personally I find it adds that little extra depth to what Im reading and makes me appreciate it that much more. Here we see a situation that echoes real life – when a greater threat stands everyone forgets their differences and come together, but the moment there is a calm and the outside threat is past all that camaraderie and fellow-ship and understanding takes a back seat to personal ambition and once more the big picture gets lost to personal ambition and vendetta!

8) REALM OF KINGS (Cross-over event, Jan-May 2010) *Possible Spoilers!*

This one is a cross-over event, it is a mostly well written and different to the norm kind of story – its not as enjoyable as the one’s before and what follows but that is partly because it is not so much an event as the story in between two events, more like an event in lieu of the normal ongoing series since Cosmic had only two. 
However in fairness it carries on the stories we’ve enjoyed immensely thus far nicely and builds a good feel for the new cosmic world outside of war – the kingdoms, the conflicts, the politics and power-play and intrigue. Though not as overtly intense and paced as all the comics described before this and in last week’s post, this is a nice change of pace and feels more like an epic pan-galactic story. Not a fair comparison but its world building, empire and era defining in a simpler way akin to great space-opera’s like the first Dune or Star Wars. And you definitely want to follow at least the core of this story because it leads very nicely into what follows.
And here begin SPOILERS, so if you are really picky about that and want to read the others first, go right ahead – I promise this post will still be here when you get back, as will I… what can I say, I got a lot of time on my hands!
At the end of the War of Kings, Black Bolt and Vulcan were both killed by Black Bolts final solution and it also had another unforeseen result – it tore a hole in space. Yeah. Black Bolt literally tore the galaxy a new one.

Queen Medusa of Attilan!

This of course is a matter of some concern to… well pretty much everyone! The story follows the attempts of various folks to understand and combat this new threat to them starting with sending Quasar into the hole which is dubbed The Fault as his energy powers would allow him to survive the energy it gave off. He goes and what he finds is that it is in fact a tunnel to another universe – one that is decidedly not all that pleasant and should be kept out quite definitely, kind of like peeking out your open front door to see a serial killer standing right outside and your door won’t close. Can you close it? And if you could move it to close, would it be fast enough to prevent him getting in? And how long before he turns and notices you? Scary? You don’t know the half of it!
The event also ties into Guardians of the Galaxy and Nova and has three mini series, two of which follow efforts related to the event and the third not really related much by itself but comes into play much much later on in the Hulk-family books. I’ll explain later:

  • Realm of Kings: Inhumans (5 issues)
  • Realm of Kings: Imperial Guard (5 issues)
  • Realm of Kings: Son of Hulk (4 issues)

It’s this last series that is the poor lost child – I personally didn’t mind having it along but for fans not familiar or interested it is in fact superfluous and unless you want to read the related stuff I would say let it go. It’s the first book around the Hulk that I enjoyed since the end of World War Hulk, the events that followed once Jeph Loeb took over was horrendous and I pretend never happened. I won’t go into the details here – perhaps in another recap post like this cosmic one(s) where I’ll talk about the magnificent run of Hulk comics that Greg Pak has written. Suffice to say that this series follows Hiro-Kala a son of the Incredible Hulk as he leads a rag-tag group on a space ship and they are pulled into the Microverse and to the planet K’ai where he wreaks all kinds of havoc. The events of this mini in fact directly lead into Dark Son over in the The Incredible Hulks.
The one thing that was of extreme sadness and heart-break for me was that at the end of this build-up event that lead directly and almost immediately into the next one, both Nova and Guardians came to an end… Marvel has claimed they remain on hiatus and hope remains but to see them go is a kick in the gut.
Thankfully the good comics and seeing those familiar faces did not stop here!

9) THE THANOS IMPERATIVE (6 issue limited series + 2 bookend one-shots, July ’10-Jan ’11)

*SERIOUS Spoilers ahead if you have not read the books before this!*
And so it begins…

You remember Adam Warlock? If you’ve followed the series you know how he was found in a cocoon where he resurrected after he died and then became messiah and head of the Universal Church of Truth and now in fact has become a little crazy and evil and become basically Evil Adam a.k.a. Adam Magus. And remember that second cocoon the church had that they couldn’t open Well…
Aa, whats the use? The name’s a dead giveaway and if you read the last events through till the end you know that with reports of his demise no obviously greatly exaggerated – Thanos is back baby!
We pick up right where Realm of Kings and the two ongoings of Nova and Guardians ended with Star-Lord and the Guardians watching over the newly resurrected Thanos and trying their best to figure out what to do with this nigh-unstoppable and known crazy maniac. Should they kill him? Would that be the right thing to do? Does he serve a purpose still? CAN they even kill him?

Adam Magus himself…

Not the best place to find one-self I’ll grant you that!
Im assuming at this point that you’ve at least read one of the two ongoings that I’ve harped on about like a crazed boy-band fan or at least the event just preceding even – if you haven’t I would strongly recommend stop here, go read and then come back after you’ve the start of this series. Really.

So now we have the Fault – we have a barely held together set of war-hammered Empires and a serious lack of firepower. This is especially problematic when you take into account the fact that coming from the Fault itself you have an alternate set of Avengers that serve the masters of that entire Universe where death no longer exists and all serve the leaders – the Many-sided Ones.

The Ravagers!

Yeah, sounds not so bad? Imagine nothing ever dying or going away. Now imagine people DONT stop having kids… What happens in a thousand or so years of no one dying? Suffering and pain still exist… hunger and horror still exist. You just can’t die. Still not so bad? Thats what the Cancerverse as its aptly named is like.
The servants of the Cancerverse want to eradicate death in our Universe and then take over and to that end they search for the Avatar of Death to kill it. And its all coming for us backed by the Universal Church of Truths maniacal overlord Adam Magus and alternate evil versions of some of this universe’s most powerful heroes.
And out only hopes are the already battered Guardians of the Galaxy, Nova, Quasar, Moondragon and the mad Titan – Thanos.
How do you think our plucky heroes will survive this one? Do they in fact survive? Read it and find out!
As a bit of a bonus and also a bit of a tease – here’s a sampling of the kind of mega-level stuff you can see in this series, this image below is an unfinished version of a space battle scene that includes beings like Galactus and the Celestials! This is literally two universe’s fighting each other! Interested yet?

The Biggest Space-battle of ALL TIME!

10) ANNIHILATORS (4 issue mini-series, first half-2011)

I was beyond over-joyed when I saw this series announced – after the end of the Thanos Imperative there was a void in my reading that nothing could fill and I missed my friends out there saving the Universe and keeping me amused and entertained throughout.
But then Marvel saw the fan-base and solid readership of these past events that they had never expected to garner such a following and so though in small efforts like this, the saga continues and in this series does a most admirable job.

Go Cosmo!!

It being a stand-alone mini-series there is not too much I can say without spoiling the fun and for this one I really don’t want to!
In a nutshell: The Cancerverse is no more. The Universe is safe, the Empires of our Universe are at peace for now and all is as well as can be expected. And in a heart-breaking turn of events, the Nova Corp and the Guardians of the Galaxy are both now gone – leaving the Universe to fend for itself.
But this is not the end – for Cosmo the ever-awesome space-dog has been secretly meeting with some of the most powerful players out there to form a collective or league if you agree to come together when needs calls for their aid and the rest of the Universe cannot fight for itself – essentially to keep alive the ideal of Peter Quill, the former Star-Lord, leader of the Guardians.

Emperor Kallark a.k.a. Gladiator

And so it is that Blastaar, king of the Negative Zone, tries to attack Attilan the royal city of the Kree rulers – the Inhumans – hoping to take advantage of our weakened ‘verse and expand his own Empire. But his plans are not to be as the cosmic level powerhouse squad now dubbed The Annihilators makes their debut and thwarts his plans!
The team consists of some familiar faces and one not so much for most readers – The first Quasar Wendell Vaughn, Silver Surfer the Herald of Galactus, Ronan the Accuser of the Kree and Emperor Gladiator of the Shi’ar Imperium and last but certainly not least, Beta Ray Bill. Together they are probably one of the most powerful groups of people ever brought together in any comic ever written. Period.
For those that don’t know him, basically Bill is a true hero and a serious bad-ass! I’m not even going to be a fan about it, Im just going to in fact quote the facts directly from Marvel.com and you can judge for yourself:

The Burning Galaxy was destroyed through the machinations of Surtur. The surviving Korbinites decided to choose a champion who they would follow to their new home. the Korbinite known as Beta Ray Bill was successful and was transformed into a cybernetic being resembling a fierce creature. The Korbinites then amassed their fleet, put themselves into stasis, and followed Beta’s ship, Skuttlebutt. Bill fought legions of demons sent by Surtur.

Brothers in Thunder!

As the fleet approached the Milky Way galaxy, it was detected by a S.H.I.E.L.D. satellite. Nick Fury asked Thor to investigate. Thor was deemed a threat by Skuttlebutt, so Beta fought him. During the battle Thor was separated from his hammer, Mjolnir, and reverted to Donald Blake. Curious, Bill picked up Mjolnir and the hammer deemed him worthy, granting him the power of Thor. Skuttlebutt landed but both were transported to Asgard by Odin. Bill said the hammer should remain his as he had won it fairly.
Odin subsequently decreed the two battle in Skartheim to the death to see who would reclaim the hammer. Bill’s Korbinite physiology gave him somewhat of an advantage in the lava-filled realm, and he was able to win. However, he refused to take Thor’s life. It is believed that Odin chose this location to further test Bill’s worthiness and to teach Thor a lesson. Mjolnir was returned to Thor, with Odin ordering the creation of the hammer Stormbreaker for Bill to use. Bill continued to protect his people and assist the Asgardians. He grew particularly close to Sif, who accompanied him to battle

So basically this is an already powered up dude who handed Thor his arse not once but TWICE and to top that off was so highly regarded by the Norse gods and Odin himself that he got his own hammer! Now you see what I mean?!
Of course soon after all the heroics of beating Blastaar – as in any good story, the action does not end here – in fact this is just the start! A Space-Knight named Ikon (remember them from Conquest?) comes to this new team to ask for their help. And believe me when I tell you that the threat is one that puts even this team of power-houses to the test! A new team is forged in the fires of battle and heroes rise to face some serious blackness.

Rocket N Groot by Mike Mignola!

BONUS! There is a back-up story that runs in each issue of this series as a four part story and was an even bigger joy for me then the main series (which says a lot about my taste I guess…) in which we follow the adventure of Rocket Raccoon, now living a pathetic lost life as a mailroom clerk in an office somewhere out there. Lost and directionless with the disbanding of the Guardians and the loss of friends, one bizarre event later he gets drawn back into an adventuring life and soon finds himself on a quest to find his old buddy Groot to help him unravel this crazy new mystery – a search which is quite a shocker. Once together again this dynamite duo are off to fight this new-found villain out to get Rocket and you really want to be along for this ride!

Well folks – there you have it!
At last we are at the end of this little recap. I hope this helped you and I sincerely hope that you enjoy this at least a fraction as much as I did because following these books has been one of the highlights of my comic reading experience these last few years – especially from a major label and definitely as a story running this long.
If like myself you can’t get enough of these tales and these heroes then I will see you among the pages of the coming-soon series that I showed at the end of last weeks post when the Annihilators make Earthfall and come face to face with Earths Mightiest Heroes. Do you think the Avengers can hold their own? Would they win? Or would these inter-stellar power-houses wipe the floor with them? And WHY are they there in the first place??

Earthfall 2011!!

I don’t know yet, but we all will soon enough! Hope you liked this not-so-little breakdown and that it helped you find your way into the Marvel Cosmic – for those that have stuck around through these two entries, thanks and I’ll see everyone next week for more comic randomness!
Cheers!
——————–
Additional Note – Anyone interested in more back story prior to either of these posts, if you really want to read more of these characters and some of the excellent cosmic stuff Marvel has done over the years I would recommend the following (in rough order):
10. Infinite Abyss
9. Celestial Quest
8. Origins of Galactus
7. Infinity Crusade
6. Infinity War
5. Warlock Chronicles
4. Infinity Watch v1
3. Infinity Gauntlet
2. Thanos Quest
1. Silver Surfer v3
And its an alternate/elseworld kind of story but I highly recommend reading “Marvel: The End” – one of the best such series ever to come out of Marvel in terms of concept and execution.

Give heed to The Marvel Cosmic! (Part 1)

14 Jul

Welcome back one and all to another edition of the Wayfarer – and this week Im going to have to get right to it as we’re going to be covering some titles and events that have been requested by many readers and comic-fans out there looking for guidance. And we are ready to provide it!

CLICK TO ENLARGE!!

Today’s extra-special post covers the amazing and highly successful (unexpected for Marvel in fact at the time) world(s) of cosmic adventure and intergalactic action that exploded onto the comic world with the Annihilation event and began a true renaissance of space-based science fiction in comics.
For a science fiction fan such as myself it was an absolute blessing because (and I say this to in the spirit of honesty) while DC’s work on the space books with the GL titles has been great, its basically Lantern-centric space opera – more Star Wars then Star Trek if you will. And maybe its just me but as much as a good dramatic space opera can be fun, there’s nothing quite like the mind-bending awesomeness, the creativity, the blurring of lines and unavoidable tight-rope walk of disbelief and clear understanding and the familiar.

In this Marvel in my opinion has actually crafted a far superior mythos through the able and masterful craftsmanship of the legendary team of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning – lovingly known to fans as DnA because of their long history of excellent work together in comics across the industry.

Building on a base set up over the years by Jim Starlin, Keith Giffen and other legendary story-tellers this new set of Cosmic tales are a pleasure for readers both old and new – if you like me have read all the old books like The Infinity Gauntlet then its brilliant, but in a twist on tradition, if you’ve never read anything of them before you can still jump right back into the middle of things here with no trouble!

What Im going to try and do is break it down for you into the basic bits and order so that you can be caught up in no time and today like me be hankering and waiting Gollum-like for more tales of space adventure and entertainment with some of the more compelling and well crafted characters and stories from The Big Two comic publishers in quite a while.
So come, sit back and let your eyes wander over this quick little burst of the Power Cosmic (as the Silver Surfer puts it) and maybe if I can do this just right you might find yourself compelled to get past that little hesitation that always comes when trying a new book.
To start with let me reiterate one last time – even if you have little or no familiarity with these characters and/or settings: DONT PANIC! (oh and Ive added a lot of high-res pics to click to enlarge and enjoy the excellent artwork!!)
The beauty of these books is that you can read them for what they are and no be hampered. And now, on to the comics themselves:

1) THANOS (12 issue limited series – 2004)

To start with I would highly recommend reading the Thanos maxi-series before diving in to this realm BUT (and this is important) it is not mandatory and if you really feel like you want to limit your reading, stick to the second half – #7-12 which is a story arc called “Samaritan” written by Giffen who adds just the right touch of suspense and the aura of mystery, power and unknowable purpose that was always the most defining feature of the Mad Titan. These unfortunately were lacking in a lot of Starlin stories that came before this though not so much in the first issues of this series.
Essentially I recommend reading Samaritan simply because it introduces Thanos well – and even if he only pops up now and again trust me he’s always important! – and its like a chess game where here you see some pieces that play big parts in the coming adventures and you get an introduction and some understanding, like a setup of sorts. It takes Thanos on a journey, a quest if you will and following this mad God makes for an interesting read.

The Mad Titan in full form!

For those that know him not – Thanos is a Titan, not the Greek kind but close enough. In the Marvel Universe there exists a race of beings that you may see or hear sporadically in comics called The Eternal (created by THE legendary master Jack Kirby) – now just take it that they are gods and through them on Saturns moon Titan came to be a powerful race called the Titans and Thanos was one of them. He was born a mutant (anyone else thinking X-men crossover?) and grew up dreaming of conquest and destruction and eventually left Titan, became a nihilist and amassed power, eventually falling in love with Death herself (she is a she) and keeps trying to destroy everything as a gift of love for her – hey takes all kinds I guess! But he has on occasion been on the other side and ended up SAVING everything when all the heroes have failed, overall making him something of an enigma as a character and his purpose in the universe, one of the reasons he is as interesting a character as he has evolved to be today.
Hell this is a character that has controlled the Cosmic Cube, the Infinity Gauntlet, whooped arse on every superhero Marvel has to offer, beaten on cosmic entities and even been consort to Death herself for a time! Trust me, his adventures and his part in all this are important – in this series alone he not only has a debate with Galactus but adopts The Fallen One (the first ever Herald of Galactus, yeah you heard right) as his own Herald. Beat that. 
Quick trivia: his brother is Eros a.k.a. Starfox, the dude who was hot and heavy for a while with She-Hulk (ok, little jealous here) and has the power to pretty much make anyone fall and all over him. Nice huh?

2) DRAX THE DESTROYER: EARTH FALL (limited series – end 2005)

Now this is a series that is about a character sadly under-used (in my humble view) and so while I would say read it, it is not required reading. However I will say this, it was meant to be and is a lead-in to the Annihilation crossover event.
Mentor
DRAX

For those who don’t know his deal – he was a simple human dude named Arthur Douglas who was merrily driving on a highway with his family when they saw Thanos in his UFO and were destroyed for having seen what they were not meant to see. His daughter survived and was rescued by Mentor, Thanos’ father, only to be raised into a powerful being that would pop up in Marvel comics as Moondragon – part time villainous b-er-witch and later reformed hero. The poor man that was her father once was dead – however Mentor had realised his son was a danger and could not be left unchecked and so he and his own father Chronos created a new body out of soil itself, granted it immense power – enough to rival Thanos – and bonded the soul/essence of poor Arthur to it. They wiped all recall of who he was and ingrained a desire and obsession to kill Thanos deep within him, making him a Thanos hunting machine. In the old comics he chased and interfered with Thanos a lot but eventually became lost when Thanos was finally (seemingly) killed by Marv-ell. Long story short he went through a lot, eventually died but then was brought back when Thanos returned to life and after some more stuff was on a prison transport that crashed to Earth and became friends with a little girl named Cammie (whom he confused with his daughter) and whooped some serious butt! 

Friggin hilarious!

This last part – the crashing, the little girl, the kicking of arse – thats pretty much what this mini is about so no worries about it being story heavy. All the story you need Ive just filled you in on! Look at that, two points in and you’re all caught up and expert and all that! 
Now on to the big stuff with all the precursor out of the way!

 

NOTE: Hereon the descriptions get smaller as I’ve now filled you in on the backstory that you might feel worried about and now you just need to start reading! The rest of this article is just to help you keep track and give you a little info and thoughts on the stories.

3) ANNIHILATION (2007-8 cosmic event/6-issue mini-series)

So here we are – the big event that really was the godfather of it all for me – the event that showed (and still shows) what cross-overs and events should be like as opposed to the massive stuff Marvels been doing with everything from Civil War to Dark Reign to Heroic Age.  All are well and good but the MASSIVE list of titles and tie-ins and mini-series and blah, blah, blah that they tie into these big events make it (1) prohibitively expensive to enjoy the whole event and (2) make it far more complicated and drawn out then it needs to be really.
In short the Annihilation event is available in three trade-paperbacks (I bought all recently) that covers everything from the lead-in to the mini-series that tied into the event and the main mini-series itself, plus the epilogue issues. Its just that simple.
The event itself covers the invasion of our Universe by an incalculably large army from another Universe called the Negative Zone, led by would-be-conqueror (FF fans will be familiar with this dude!) Annihilus – this army is so vast and deadly it destroys most everything in its way and called the Annihilation Wave. The crux of the series is lead into by the four mini’s which bring our lead characters together to the main series which then follows the main war itself and is a brutal but fantastically written and deeply human and real tale – a real war story if you will.

This saga of space skirmishes and struggles includes these four 4-issue mini-series:

  • Nova – focuses on the human hero named Richard Rider/Nova who is a part of the Nova Corp from the planet Xandar, kind of like the GL of this universe except more like a military outfit and powerful but not magic ring and forming giant fist power – just plain old fashioned blow-em-outta-the-sky power. His mini follows his immediate adventures after the Annihilation Wave first hits and literally destroys every member of the Nova Corp, except Rider. Now playing host to the combined power of the ENTIRE Corp plus having the Worldmind (a living supercomputer that is the regulator of the Nova Force and caretaker of the entire collective database of Xandarian civilization) take up residence in his head. Plus he runs into Drax and well, I’ll leave you to read and enjoy yourself!
  • Silver Surfer – A fast paced and intense mini, we follow the Silver Surfer as he returns to the service of the devourer of worlds, Galactus himself, when he learns of the Annihilation Wave and Annihilus’ plan to capture all the Heralds of Galactus and maybe even Galactus himself to use for his own power – trust me, not a happy picture! Thanos shows up in this mini and we see his scheming and plotting and the way fate itself twists around this character. You get to see the Surfer totally cut loose and tear through some serious volumes of enemies, a good read for fans of the Surfer.  
  • Ronan – in this mini we follow the travels of Ronan the Accuser, formerly one of the most powerful and respected of the alien race known as the Kree (hey, Im linking but if you’ve read Marvel comics over the years it would be shocking if you hadn’t heard of them by now!) who is now an exile on the run – chasing down his former accusers. The series follows his man-hunt which eventually leads into meeting Gamora – inter-galactic hottie and arguably the deadliest woman in the Universe. Eventually the Annihilation Wave comes their way as well and they must all decide whether to run or to fight. Read it to find out!
  • Super-Skrull – Ok, I shouldn’t have to tell anyone who this guy is, especially after Secret Invasion but in a nutshell he is a Skrull who was given the powers of the entire Fantastic Four. He is seriously badass and ruthless to boot which makes him a scary opponent to have. This series however follows him trying to find a way to save his son from the Annihilation Wave and is full of intrigue and some serious action.
SPECTACULAR!!

OK!! So now we’ve covered the brunt of the Cosmic Reading for those so inclined, now I’ll do a REALLY fast rundown of what comes after just in case you enjoy the rest of this enough to want more – which Im pretty darn sure you will!

4) NOVA (ongoing- series)

Well, after the awesomeness of the comics described above it was just a matter of time before our man Richie Rider got himself a new solo-series. It follows the adventures of Nova post the Annihilation Wave during things like rebuilding planets, returning to Earth after many years only to find the Civil War and its after-effects in his once home, trying to rebuild the Nova Corp and of course – it crosses into the Annihilation: Conquest event during its all-too short run of just three years. Recomended reading from me.

5) ANNIHILATION: CONQUEST (cosmic event/ 6-issue mini-series)

The Hero Shot! Yeah!
Darkhawk!

And now we are approaching the tail end of my little cosmic carousel here – but believe me it stays wicked from hereon too!
Annihilation: Conquest picks up not too long after the events of Annihilation itself – it starts a little after the war and instead of jumping to the next happy point as if the past was the past we find ourselves seeing the aftermath of the Annihilation Wave’s passage and the cost of stopping it. We see a devastated Kree homeworld and empires in ruin. But then as if to kick the wounds suddenly the Phalanx (a cybernetic species who exist as a Hive-mind) under the control of a surprise techno villain that you all know as Marvel fans, take over the weakened and battered Kree army. In a matter of weeks they have ‘assimilated’ (like the borg in Star Trek but not as boring) all the Kree and encased literally the ENTIRE Kree galaxy in an energy field. A whole galaxy.

Wraith
Star-Lord and Quasar kicking butt!

Nova returns once more in the role of lead hero, alongside Star-Lord (Peter Quill), Quasar, and a new character named Wraith who I thought was one of the most AWESOME-ly badass characters I’ve ever seen!! I mean look at him! Sadly he’s been out of the picture since this event but I hold out hope to see him back on the page someday. Also returning are Ronan the Accuser, Moondragon, Super-Skrull, Gamora and more prominent this time around we see Mantis and the inimitable and oh-so-wicked Rocket Raccoon who along with Groot has become arguably my favourite character in the Marvel cosmos right now. Oh yeah! and this event also saw the return of Adam Warlock to the Marvel Universe.
Now this crossover followed pretty much the same pattern as Annihilation except that instead of four mini’s it had three of them and four issues of the ongoing Nova v4 tied into it.

*PHEW*Thats a lot of stuff, but again not nearly as much as some of volumes and volumes of books that have become standard ‘tie-in’ and required reading for events that happen in DC and Marvel these days. I mean if you think about it – every comic that Ive just covered which spans almost four years of story, well the actual number of comics covers maybe two events or so. Thats how nice and tight the stories are, thats how neatly its all put together where they are not constant but slowly and steadily put out over the last few years to give us something, take a brief break and then dive right back it – as opposed to the constant bombardment of events left, right and centre that the main books have been doing to already over-loaded readers.

I will be back again next week with the wrap-up and bring you the run-down on everything from mid-2008 after this event was over until the most recent Cosmic awesomeness (hey, these books make me use that word a lot, what can I say?) which is going to be hitting Earth soon in a book called Annihilators: Earthfall for which I’m not going to say anything as a fan, simply quoting Marvel themselves:

Though it remains one of the most asked after pieces of the Marvel Comics publishing line by fans at conventions and online, the Marvel Cosmic books written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning have had a question mark over their future for many months. Today, the publisher announced with the teaser at right that the most recent core team of the Cosmic world would not just continue on but would hit earth for a big battle in “Annihilators: Earthfall” this fall.
“We really wanted to do a story that brought Marvel Cosmic and Marvel Earth head to head, so that these two parts of the overall Marvel Universe could meet and interact and the readers could enjoy a good old compare and contrast,” Abnett told Marvel.com of the September-launching series. “A desperate and vital mission brings the Annihilators to Earth, and what generates the conflict with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes is basically the clash of jurisdiction, and the incompatible interests of both teams; what’s good for Earth might not be good for the Galaxy—and vice versa!”

Excited? Yeah, me too! So I’ll see you all next week – SAME COSMIC TIME! SAME COSMIC WEB-SITE!!!