Said event was INFINITY. A couple of issues of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY tied in with it and left me confused as all hell. The biggest crossover I'd encountered in my late-90s comics days was the need to buy both X-MEN and UNCANNY X-MEN to get the full story each month. It was a tad hard on the wallet, yeah, but it was easy to follow.
INFINITY was not. I tried reading the first couple of issues of what I took to be the core series, but they only confused me more. A quick spot of Googling told me that was because INFINITY required a ton of switching between various titles, not to mention a good grounding in Jonathan Hickman’s vision of the Avengers.
It was all a bit much for my introduction to crossovers, so I did even more research and decided to travel further back into the Marvel Cosmic timeline to ANNIHILATION. This mid-noughties crossover event is basically a Marvel Cosmic relaunch in which many classic characters come together to fight an invasion that threatens to overrun the galaxy. ANNIHILATION takes place concurrently with CIVIL WAR but has minimal ties to that larger, earthside event.
It proved an excellent starting point for the following reasons:
No prerequisites necessary. You can jump into ANNIHILATION blind. While the crossover's various miniseries do resurrect characters who've played prior roles in the Marvel Universe, they handle them in such a way that you get everything you need right on the page. The story probably contains plenty of Easter eggs for readers who already know characters like Drax the Destroyer, Kl’rt the Super-Skrull, Ronan the Destroyer, Nova, and Star-Lord but you don’t need to do a ton of homework before you can understand ANNIHILATION.
It's made up of self-contained story arcs
Many of Marvel’s events require you to switch between titles on an issue-by-issue basis. ANNIHILATION’s miniseries were published in more or less simultaneous waves, but they can each be read independently as long as you don’t go getting ahead of yourself. This structure makes it simple to follow each character’s storyline and to sink into the wider arc. Just use a reading guide (or get the trades, which organize everything for you) and you’ll be fine.
It’s relatively short
ANNIHILATION wraps up over the course of either 29 or 32 issues, depending on whether you want to count the beginning of Nova's ongoing series. It’s seven miniseries combined into three trade collections or one massive omnibus; nothing at all compared to CIVIL WAR or the aforementioned INFINITY. You can knock it back in no time and get a sense of whether you want to go further with Marvel Cosmic.
Speaking of which...
It sets the stage for contemporary Marvel Cosmic
I'll be honest with y'all: I didn't love ANNIHILATION, but I recommend it to people who're just starting to explore the Marvel Universe because it leads into so many other great things. It’s the beginning of contemporary Marvel Cosmic; ie, the portion of the wider storyline that takes place in space. (Come on. As if you don't love space.) The much more enjoyable ANNIHILATION: CONQUEST follows immediately after it and builds on what happens here in some fascinating ways.
ANNIHILATION also introduces new readers to characters like Kl’rt and Ronan, who crop up time and again throughout the Marvel Universe. On top of that, Kl'rt primes you for Xavin, the Super-Skrull trainee from RUNAWAYS, and (to a certain extent) Teddy from YOUNG AVENGERS. You'll get a good grounding in the Skrulls, the Kree Empire, and the Negative Zone. And best of all, you'll watch the modern Guardians of the Galaxy form, and you'll meet Nova, who's one of my very favourite Marvel characters.
Nova and the Worldmind who lives in his head are more than worth the time it’ll take you to read ANNIHILATION. Trust me on this.
While I always advocate your local library as the absolute best source for books, I recognize this may not be an option for everyone where every book is concerned. If you're in search of another way to read ANNIHILATION, you can try:
- Annihilation's event page on Marvel Unlimited (digital; subscription service; $9.99/month for unlimited Marvel comics six months or older)
- Annihilation on comiXology (digital; for purchase by collection)
- Book One on Kobo (digital; for purchase; coupons work)
- Book One on The Book Depository (paperback; for purchase; free shipping worldwide)
- Book One on Scribd (digital; subscription service; free for two months and $8.99/month thereafter for unlimited digital comics, books, and audiobooks)
I receive a small percentage of the purchase price if you buy the book through Kobo, The Book Depository, or Amazon. I get an extra month of Scribd if you sign up for a two-month free trial.