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Marvel Cosmic Reading Order: A Primer on the Annihilation: Conquest Event

Before the Guardians of the Galaxy movie became a world-wide hit in 2014, casual fans likely didn’t realize that Marvel Comics contained an entire catalog of amazing space-based characters.

Sure, casual fans understood that Thor didn’t grow up in Spider-Man’s friendly neighborhood, but most had their minds blown by the likes of Rocket Raccoon and Groot.

Indeed, Marvel Comics has long told stories about cosmic characters rivaled perhaps only by the Star Wars franchise. So, this article (and one that preceded it) will take you issue-by-issue through an amazing Marvel cosmic storyline, which featured the stories and characters that came to life in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies.

Marvel Cosmic Reading Order

The big cosmic event that earned Marvel cosmic acclaim was Annihilation. Operating on the fringe of Marvel Comics, Annihilation wasn’t a huge seller at release. But great word of mouth brought in an audience. So there was of course a sequel.

Here’s the reading order for the Marvel Annihilation: Conquest event:

  • Annihilation Saga #1 (2007) (This is a recap of Annihilation.)
  • Nova Vol. 4 #1-3
  • Annihilation: Conquest Prologue #1 (2007)
  • Annihilation: Conquest Starlord #1-4 (2007)
  • Annihilation: Conquest Quasar #1-4 (2007)
  • Annihilation: Conquest Wraith #1-4 (2007)
  • Nova Vol. 4 #4-7
  • Annihilation: Conquest #1-6 (2008)
  • Nova Vol. 4 #8-12, Annual 1 (2008)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 #1- (2008)

The above is over 30 comic books and you’ve undoubtedly noticed the same pattern of Annihilation: A bunch of 4-issue miniseries converged into a 6-part core event comic.

Alas, the issues are hard to track down. Marvel cosmic was flying under the radar at the time, so the 4-issue series had low print runs and poor sales. Normally, you may be able to find comics like this in dollar bins, but positive word of mouth meant popularity later soared, so good luck curating them issue by issue now.

Marvel did print the entire event in two paperback volumes – Annihilation: Conquest Book 1 and Annihilation: Conquest Book 2 – but a (pricy) deluxe hardcover omnibus exists and it also collects Nova.

A reader’s best bet is Marvel Unlimited, where a monthly fee allows you to read tens of thousands of back issues, including, of course, the entire Annihilation: Conquest cosmic event plus Nova and the excellent Guardians of the Galaxy that followed.

Annihilation: Conquest Reading Order

Nova Vol. 4 #1-3

Written by Abnett and Lanning, the 4th volume of the Nova solo series is a must read for a variety of reasons, the first of which is because it is excellent.

These three issues are also an arguably critical tie-in to the events that are occurring on Earth. Annihilation and Annihilation: Conquest take place during the events of Civil War. While the Annihilation wave was ravaging space, a hero vs. hero conflict was ravaging the superhero community. Think how the Guardians of the Galaxy movie and Captain America: Civil War were happening at roughly the same time in the MCU.

These issues are also a wonderful call back for fans of the New Warriors. They are a painful reminder of how Nova’s old team sparked the Civil War and how Nova had always struggled with his relationship with his father. A lot happens in three issues.

Finally, Nova Vol. 4 #1-3 is an excellent lead-in to Annihilation: Conquest. While not critical, it serves as a nice grounding in between to epic, sweeping cosmic events.

My recommendation: Read it.

Annihilation: Conquest Prologue

This single issue sets the stage for the event to come and provides an introduction to most of the major characters.

Written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, the architects of Annihilation: Conquest, it weighs in at 40+ pages, I think, and none are wasted.

Many Most of the characters from Annihilation are back but their positioning is radically changed. Plus, there are many brand new players in Annihilation: Conquest, including the big bad, which I will not spoil.

All I can say is a hero gets no rest. This prologue issue reminds us of that and sets the stage for the awesomeness that is to come.

My recommendation: Read it.

Annihilation: Conquest Star-Lord

I mentioned that Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning (DNA) were taking over from Keith Giffen, who was the primary architect of Annihilation. But Giffen still had a role in the follow-up event as the writer of the Star-Lord miniseries.

Fans of the Guardians of the Galaxy movie will love this 4-parter. To be clear, the characters don’t perfectly match how they appear in the movies, but seeing how they differ on the pages of the comic is part of the fun. Groot speaks!

Of the many miniseries that lead up to the 6-part event, Annihilation: Conquest, Star-Lord is one of the most integral and also the most enjoyable. It’s super high energy and action-packed. And snarky.

My recommendation: Read it!

Annihilation: Conquest Quasar

It’s not that the Quasar miniseries is bad, it’s that it’s a mopey love story. And when it isn’t a mopey love story, it’s a mopey story about Quasar having confidence in herself.

So not my cup of tea, as I prefer space robots and punching and ‘splody bits and stuff.

Yet…Quasar does have a dragon in it, which is awesome and the overall quest of the tale does have pretty integral ties to the upcoming Annihilation: Conquest main event, although not critically so.

Eh, I can go either way on this.

My recommendation: Read it?

Annihilation: Conquest Wraith

Long-time comic book fans likely won’t even remember Wraith. In fact, Marvel has created several entirely unrelated characters each with the name Wraith and not a one of them is of any significance.

The miniseries was an attempt to write the Annihilation: Conquest story through his perspective, giving him his own mission that conveniently dovetails with several of the characters from the previous event. It’s weird and will leave you with a strong feeling of “Why?” and “Who cares?

Skip it and just roll with Wraith and those others randomly showing up in the main event.

My recommendation: Skip it.

Nova 4-7

These 4 issues break with the pattern of a series of 4-issue miniseries because Nova had his own solo title at this point, but these issues are critical.

They are also excellent.

Again written by DNA, they continue the strong reappearance of Nova that we grew to love in the previous event but set things up for him to play a critical role in Annihilation: Conquest.

Or do they? I don’t want to spoil the exact nature of Nova’s participation in Conquest, nor who he teams up with / against. But suffice it to say that new locales and characters are introduced. It’s action-packed and incredibly well done.

My recommendation: Read it!

Annihilation: Conquest #1-6

The Prologue reveals that the Phalanx are the primary enemy after they use the devastation of the wake of the Annihilation Wave to take control of the Kree army through their tech-organic virus.

The swift and sweeping invasion by the techno-organic Phalanx leaves all resistance flat-footed. Although many of the same heroes from the Annihilation event are present, they are overwhelmed, sidelined, or simply thwarted outright.

New heroes must arrive and previous heroes must regroup. Readers are introduced to entirely new worlds and contexts. The plot races.

It’s exciting and engaging. It’s *ahem* cosmic in scope. It’s action-packed and filled with twists and turns. The big bad is introduced only to get even bigger and badder. The stakes are high, yet readers really get to dive in close with many of characters.

As amazing as Annihilation was, this sequel is even better, if you can believe it.

My recommendation: Read it. Obviously.

Nova 8-9

While Annihilation set the stage for the sequel, Conquest set the stage for the characters to shine in wholly different ways.

One of these was the emergence of Richard Rider Nova in his own solo series. While issues 4-7 are integral to the Conquest storyline and issues 1-3 are a great set-up, you will not want to stop there.

Issue 8 takes Nova on a mission to a brand-new destination that you’ll fully recognize from the Guardians of the Galaxy movies. And issue 9 is a horror tale that is simultaneously delightful.

Honestly, the Nova series by DNA (and the series I’ll tell you about next) exemplify why we read comics. Exciting characters, exciting stories, wonderful dialogue.

My recommendation: Read it!

Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2

Between Annihilation and Annihilation: Conquest, readers were introduced to the characters that they grew to love from the Guardians of the Galaxy movie. But those characters were first brought together in Volume 2 of the Guardians of the Galaxy comic, written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning (DNA).

  • Star-Lord: CHECK
  • Gamora: CHECK
  • Drax: CHECK
  • Mantis: CHECK
  • Rocket: CHECK
  • Groot: CHECK

Oh, and a few other characters thrown in for good measure. There are several reasons why this comic series is so beloved, the most obvious of which is because it’s excellent.

My recommendation: Read it!