“The Last Annihilation” continues in Guardians of the Galaxy #17 this week, and it progresses the story to a place where next week’s one-shots can really shine. Al Ewing and Juan Frigeri have not one, but two teams on their hands in this issue, and you know it’s fun when Doctor Doom is leading the charge. But don’t tell Rocket that.
This week’s issue opens on Throneworld II — see for yourself in the preview — and it’s not looking good for our heroes. Luckily they have brains on their side, but what good are they against a threat like Dormammu? All he needs to do is reach a certain point of power and a single thought will end everything. That is explained in the opening scene as Rocket and Doctor Doom establish the stakes and how close they are to losing everything.
This issue has a lot of talking, but given how many colorful characters are speaking, it never gets boring. These relationships range from friends to enemies, to “it’s complicated.” The first half of the issue is focused on these characters agreeing on a plan to stop Dormammu, and it seems like a good enough plan.
The second half is about that plan kicking off and how it may not be going so hot. Everyone’s favorite alien race from the first Avengers movie, the Chitauri, is the main focus for Doctor Doom, who has been possessed by Dormammu. Given Doctor Doom’s proclivity to rule by force, the plan goes about as you’d expect, and it’s interesting to see the Guardians reflect on that. You may be able to get Doctor Doom to do the right thing for the greater good, but he does it his way.
With two teams to play with, Ewing and Frigeri get to show off an all-out war on Spartax, seeing Quasar blast enemies or Mantis throws some kung-fu kicks. Frigeri shows off each of their powers well and the choreography of the varying powers are cool to see from panel to panel. Ewing seeds a rather haunting final cliffhanger through Nova, who tries to piece together what he’s seeing with past events. That final page is pretty damn cool, with a giant enemy looming lit up like a Halloween pumpkin with colors by Federico Blee.
Props to Frigeri, who pulls off some rather cool-looking ships, Doom Bots, and other technology in the issue. The art holds up throughout from double-page splashes of all-out war and many figures fighting, to the talking heads scenes earlier in the issue.
Pacing for the issue does feel a bit off, though it’ll likely iron itself out in the collected format. The first half is strictly talking and the second half speeds things up nicely.
“Last Annihilation” has all the trappings of a great Marvel event. This issue somehow juggles over 12 characters like nothing, and though the first half is a slow crawl to the plan, once the plan is underway it’s all-out action and fun. This issue is a key chapter as it sets up a turning point for the event you won’t want to miss.
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