Monday, December 1, 2014

CBR Star-Lord: Annihilation - Conquest


Peter Quill is Star-Lord once more!

Witness the birth of the motley crew that became the Guardians of the Galaxy!

Hooked on a Feeling for more Guardians of the Galaxy reviews:

Comic title: Star-Lord: Annihilation - Conquest 
Art by Timothy Green II
Written by Keith Giffen

Published by Marvel Comics
From (2007) 2014
Lineup Marvel Universe/Guardian of the Galaxy series
Format: Deluxe-sized one-shot issue collecting Star Lord (2007) #1-4.

Following his original adventures under writers Steve Englehart and Chris Claremont, and a quick failed revamp in the mid-1990s by Timothy Zahn and Dan Lawlis (where someone was shown taking upon his mantle), Star-Lord finally returned to the Marvel Universe thanks to a renewed interest in Marvel's more scifi proprieties.

The last classic Star-Lord stories (reviewed above) saw the title being passed to a new protagonist. But Peter Quill aka the original Star-Lord was last seen back in his role as "Guardian of the Galaxy" in a newly added epilogue of his classic adventures. Then kind of forgotten.

Our hero would finally properly return in the pages of Keith Giffen's the 2004's Thanos series. The 1990s weren't a good time for our hero. Quill ditched his Star-Lord persona (or was that taking place simultaneously with Timothy Zahn's Star-Lord mini?) and had bio-mechanical enhancements added to his body to grand him new abilities. Yikes.

His appearance on Thanos would itself lead into his proper return. During Marvel's big 2006 crossover event, Annihilation. Peter Quill would play a pretty significant role in it and its 2007 direct continuation, Annihilation: Conquest.

Keith Giffen was in charge of putting a new team and book of unlikely heroes to spin off Annihilation. This is the story how they met for the very first time.

"Star-Lord: Annihilation - Conquest" was the character's first eponymous title in over a decade. Originally a 4-issue mini-series titled Annihilation: Conquest – Star-Lord. It would lead directly from Annihilation and serve as a prologue to Annihilation: Conquest.

It's also Star-Lord's first major main role in a Marvel storyline.

What is Annihilation, though?

The Annihilation saga was originally a 2006 event that brought all these classic scifi Marvel Comics characters together in one pretty epic storyline. The general idea was to revamp all these old classic concepts and to chart a new direction for the space-faring Marvel Universe for years to come.

It brought the likes of Thanos, Silver Surfer, Ronan the Accuser or even Drax back into the spotlight. It helped flesh out some old Silver Age ideas and give a new purpose for several cosmic comic books.

This "Annihilation - Conquest" mini-series took the character Star-Lord as we last saw him in Annihilation and helped give a fresh new beginning/starting point to Peter Quill.

Star-Lord reintroduced for a new era!

Our story takes place as the cybernetic alien beings The Phalanx were last seen trying to take advantage of a war amongst the Kree Empire. In the aftermath of the Annihilation War, the Kree Empire had basically collapsed. Peter Quill was last seen acting as a military advisor to the Kree, under Ronan the Accuser.

The Phalanx were using this highly-contagious techno-organic virus to overtake the entire galaxy. To put a stop to that, they put Star-Lord in charge of this ragtam group of unlikely cosmic heroes. Obscure fan-favorite C-list Marvel characters put together for the very first time! Bug (he sure loves his bugs, doesn't he?), Captain Universe, Deathcry, Mantis, Groot and Rocket Raccoon - all under the orders of Star-Lord!


This is the story that would make them legends! Make them Guardians of the Galaxy! A suicide mission where things would be going from bad to worse... And even it meant sacrificing them for the good of the galaxy...

The story opens with Peter Quill not wanting to be Star-Lord anymore. Following a huge disasters (told in a flashback), he finally left his old persona.

Peter Quill would go through a lot of changes (including those awful 90s cybernetics). But following Annihilation, Quill was saved by the Kree. Revived by a Kree doctor. On the orders of Ronan himself. And finally free from his awful cybernetics enhancements that were simply in bad taste to be honest (thanks, Giffen!).

But that wasn't just a good gesture. They want Peter back in his role of Star-Lord. They want him in charge of a team for a suicide mission. To avoid being compromised by the Phalanx, they will fly in with low-tech. Star-Lord in charge of these prisoners of war turned soldiers.

But it turns out they all volunteered for the mission because of the Star-Lord legacy.

Who are "they", you ask? They are the lovable joker Bug, this ex-military human Gabriel Vargas in control of the mysterious Uni-Power powers (but who has no idea how it exactly work) calling himself Captain Universe, a former Shi'ar and Avenger Deathcry, this telekinesis/telepathy-wielder precog self-titled "Celestial Madonna" Mantis, another self-proclaimed royalty the so-called "Monarch of Planet X" Groot and the furry tactical genius Rocket Raccoon.

Star-Lord gets new weapons, his Star-Lord identity back. This team of misfits get a short training before being sent on the field.

And this suicide mission might just be their last... but they'll have to survive the tension amongst each other first!

It's such a fun story. The material comes naturally and works great with this bunch of unknown C-list heroes!

Everything is quickly put in place! There's some great character moments. Bug gets some genuine laughs. Mantis is intriguing and lovely. Rocket literally steals the show.

This is the origin of our modern Guardians of the Galaxy! Well, except Groot is still able to do phrases here by this point. But the rest of the personalities are quickly established here and they all work great off one another. We get a more sarcastic Peter Quill. They even get the basic versions of the uniforms they would wear from now on. And the first meeting of Rocket Raccoon and Groot!

It's such a great series!

The story is very much inspired by The Dirty Dozen. And it shows! The story is not particularly complicated, but it works great from the character's interactions.

It's the basis for the later Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning series. All the elements are set in place here.

Giffen handed most of the Annihilation event. He wanted to write a (new) Star-Lord mini. He was one of his own favorite characters when he was working on the "Thanos" book. In fact, he used this occasion to finally turn him back into Star-Lord! We finally get to see the reason why Peter Quill didn't want to take this role, what happened to him in the past which made him not want the mantle anymore..

This was also the occasion to actually not write just a solo for a single main character, but give the spotlight for en entire team. And they're all fun characters to interact with. They get all new costumes and equipment. Only one really missing, "Ship" is nowhere to be seen.

While "Star-Lord: Annihilation - Conquest" acts as this bridge in-between both chapters of the Annihilation storylines, it stands perfectly fine on its own. It's a great stand alone story.

Dan Abnett would oversee the 2007-08 sequel series, Annihilation: Conquest. Where most of its core main characters would go on to form the proper GotG team (adding Drax and Gamora to the team, mostly).

This is the story that would set the entire tone for Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning Guardians of the Galaxy series which would be launched off the following year.

It put Star-Lord back on the (star)map, leading this great fun scifi series, Guardians of the Galaxy in the 2008 relaunch of the title. A book that would last for a 25-issue run, concluding with yet another cosmic-scale story, the "Thanos Imperative" mini-series.

Overall, this is where it all really began for our modern Guardians of the Galaxy team!

It's a great introduction to the whole cosmic apsect of the Marvel Universe. A fun story and Highly Recommended to any fans of newcomers to the genre.

Timothy Green on the illustration is a great talented artist. He truly outdid himself for the occasion! His characters are slightly cartoony but quite realistic at the same time, and very expressive. Really amazing, stunning work!

Most of what his found here would be the basis for James Gunn 2014 Guardians of the Galacxy live action film - including the rag tag team of prisoners saving the galaxy. While Abnett and Lanning get almost all the praise, some credits are due to Giffen who mostly put the entire costume together here - including their new costumes!

It's a fun but rare mini. It was sadly never reprinted along the 2008 GotG series (where it should have made an appearance to be honest), but the old trade paperbacks and the new omnibus decided to omit this mini-series. Since the original issues are long gone out of print, you can either find it reprinted as part of the "Annihilation: Conquest – Volume 1" trade or this above floppy-sized one shot issue collecting this entire Star-lord solo (minus Annihilation, of course).

The Annihilation saga is also Well Recommended for any science-fiction fans out there. It's kind of the "Star Wars" of the Marvel Universe.

I give it:
2.5 / 3 Howards!

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