Review: Annihilator #1

This is an interesting year of comics for Grant Morrison as several long-standing or long time rumored projects have been released. Annihilator is a property that I’ve heard about before, but when you don’t see the material you tend to forget about it or worse you give up hope that it’ll ever be released. Thankfully that wasn’t the case because we’d all be missing out on an interesting comic book. There are two aspects of this story and one of which is a familiar trope if you’ve read Morrison’s previous work and let’s be honest you more than likely have. While there is a strong likely hood of this being someone’s first Grant Morrison comic, the majority will be readers that have indulged in his work at DC and his classic runs that are always citied when his name is mentioned.

For the first aspect of the story we’re introduced to Max Nomax which is an entertaining name because of how silly it is (it’s fun to say though). He’s running from a man that’s looking to process his judgement and execute him in the name of Vada, who that is we don’t know just yet. It doesn’t end well for our executioner, but we do get a quick and strange opening to the world.

The second aspect of the story comes in the form of a Hollywood screenwriter named Ray. He loves the strange and the weird and as such he’s drawn to a house that has a history of strange and weird in the form of murders and satanic cults. He needs the house for inspiration for the story he’s writing… about Max Nomax. Fiction within fiction? Maybe, maybe not.

And there is the familiar territory. It’s not Morrison writing himself into the story like has done before, but it’s not that far off either. It could very well be an interesting angle for the story, but it could also be the stories downfall, that’s yet to be seen. For now, it works.

Annilhator CoverDon’t expect this story to be traditional in any way. Morrison isn’t looking to make a story that is easy to digest and understand, but one that instead makes you think. It’s complex and there’s several clues as to what’s happening to our screenwriter, but they’re hidden due to how strange and off-putting the story is.

What’s also different and strange about the story is that none of the characters are likeable in the classic sense. You’re not rooting for Max or Ray, but you may still like them as characters. It’s a strange opening for sure and you’re either going to like it because of that or you’ll dislike for the same reason. Personally I liked it, but time will tell if this is “Good” Morrison or “Bad” Morrison.

The art is incredible from beginning to end. Frazer Irving clearly put everything he had into this story and the results are some of the finest comic pages I’ve seen all year. The quality and detail to the art is consistent through and through. Irving’s coloring is spectacular and he’s clearly improved from the last time he worked with Morrison. He is very much the lynch pin that keeps the issue together with his art making the strange and experimental storytelling accessible.

It should also be noted that the character designs are wonderful and that includes the one-time use characters like the call girls and the realtor. Where he really shines though is with Max and his space story. If ever there was a design that screamed “Space” this is it.

I’m also going to do that strange thing I do and talk about the printing quality for the issue because I was very impressed. This was my first monthly print of a Legendary published comic and it was wonderful. I really have to wonder how bigger publishers sell titles for the same price and with lesser quality. The cover was light and yet durable while very glossy. The interior was also durable and yet smooth to touch. I didn’t feel like I would be damaging the pages by holding it which was a stark difference from the big two in the game. It was a comic that I liked holding and sometimes that can make a big difference when reading.

This is an experimental first issue for sure. Some are bound to love it and others will likely walk away. I fall in the former of the two groups. What will the second issue hold for us? It’s tough to say because there isn’t an inkling of an idea as to what will happen, but I’m curious. Curiosity combined with solid execution will entice any reader back in my opinion.

Score: 4/5

Writer: Grant Morrison Artist: Frazer Irving Publisher: Legendary Entertainment Price: $3.99 Release Date: 9/10/14 Format: Mini-Series; Print