"Verbal log. Nova Corps Operative: 11249-44396 / Richard Rider... I...I was there...the last day of Nova Corps... I was there... I'm still here... God help me, I'm still here."
— Richard Rider, Annihilation Day Plus 7
In 2006, Marvel Comics had their big Crisis CrossoverCivil War. But this conflict was confined only to Earth and the Marvel Universe contained many, many characters that were space-based. So they had a simultaneous Crisis Crossover just for them: Annihilation. Being a Space Opera it received less attention than the politically relevant Civil War but benefited from having a more consistent narrative.At the maximum security prison the Kyln, in the area of space known as "the Crunch," a massive armada called the Annihilation Wave destroys nearly everything. Nothing can stand in the Annihilation Wave's path, especially as it destroys one of the first obstacles: the Nova Corps, where Richard Rider, Earth's Nova, is the only survivor. Elsewhere, the Silver Surfer senses an infestation; Kl'rt the Super-Skrull hears rumors of a strange superweapon; Ronan the Accuser becomes the accused; and Thanos has a conversation with Death, who tells him "something wonderful" is going to happen. And as the Annihilation Wave bears down on the universe, at its head is Annihilus who shouts "Annihilus is the will and the way and he will not be denied!"Annihilation was spread out over a number of mini-series:
Drax the Destroyer: Earth Fall 1-4 (actually a prelude)
Annihilation: Nova 1-4
Annihilation: Silver Surfer 1-4
Annihilation: Super-Skrull 1-4
Annihilation: Ronan 1-4
In addition, there was an Annihilation: Heralds of Galactus spin-off (tying up some loose ends) and a sequel: Annihilation: Conquest, which followed the same format as its predecessor, save for the fourth mini-series being replaced by the then-current Nova series. The fallout of these events would form part of Marvel's subsequent Space Opera crossovers, the War of Kings in 2009, and The Thanos Imperative in 2010, as well as starting off the second volume of Guardians of the Galaxy.
Tropes used include:
Abusive Parent: Elysius, Phyla-Vell's mother, was incredibly and uncaring cold toward her daughter, only telling her about her brother's death while upbraiding her.
A God Am I: The High Evolutionary is convinced he's a god. He's powerful, and really clever, but he's not a god yet.
Set up by Annihilus' goons, the Silver Surfer is rescued by Firelord and Red Shift.
In Conquest, Nova and his allies, especially Warlock of the Technarchy. Dramatic punches from offscreen stop Ultron from laying a beatdown on one of our heroes twice in three pages.
Warlock: Ultron-Phalanx! You face the wrath of your parent race! And we are not pleased!
Another one comes earlier, when Peter Quill is saved from death by Rocket Racoon in his usual style.
Rocket Racoon: (After having killed every Phalanx in the room) "And that is how we do things in the Racooniverse!"
Bittersweet Ending: They saved the universe, but billions are dead, the Nova Corps is destroyed, the Skrulls are on the verge of extinction...and after Annihilus's death, they still have to cede territories to Ravenous and the leftover Annihilation Wave just so the fighting will stop, and Surfer has been largely stripped of his morals by Galactus. Oh and Annihilus isn't quite dead. And let's not get started when The Phalanx decided to take advantage of this.
Bizarre Alien Biology: Blastaar of the Negative Zone can enter a catatonic hibernation that makes it look like he's dead.
Black and Grey Morality: Super-Skrull's miniseries, given that he's a jerkass who isn't above using violence and torture to get what he wants, against the Annihilation Wave.
Blatant Lies: On several occasions after introducing himself, Drax is met with some variation of "You mean, the Destroyer?" & his response is simple "No."
Body Horror: If someone with Phalanx tech in them goes near K'vch tech, they turn into a Babel Spire. Worse, Drax and Gamora, two of the deadliest characters there are, are screaming as it happens.
Brainwashed and Crazy: Technically the victims of the Phalanx during the Conquest arc. Some of the characters being Richard Rider, Gamora and Drax.
Curiously, some of them know they're brainwashed, and are angry about it, yet still praise being Phalanx.
Call Back: When the Worldmind tries to talk Richard Rider into taking the entire Nova Force, Richard angrily brings up the case of Garthan Saal, who did just that and quickly went insane, back in Nova's old series.
When talking with Ten-Cor, his attaché, Peter Quill notes she acts like his old ship, Ship.
Catch Phrase: The Worldmind has "It is critical you pay attention at this time." It usually says this when Richard Rider does something dangerous or stupid. It says this a lot.
Civvie Spandex: By the last mini-series, Richard Rider has gone from a normal costume to wearing a jacket over it.
Chosen One: Mantis, the Celestial Madonna. It's apparently the reason the Kree imprisoned her.
Peter Quill, formerly the Star-Lord. At one point he even mentions he never bothered checking what that meant.
Clear My Name: Ronan's goal during the war is to get back his job and life, first by finding the Rigellian Tana Nile and learning who bribed her into testifying against him. Then the Annihilation Wave kills her, forcing a change in plans.
C-List Fodder: The Nova Corps are wiped out in the first week of the war.
Continuity Lockout: Somewhat averted, since pretty much everything is explained in the series, but still, some things people won't understand until they've read back issues from the '70s, like who the heck Gamora is or what the history is between Thanos and Drax. (Which lead to Marvel releasing a trade called Annihilation: Classic).
Continuity Nod: During Conquest, Ultron's encounter with the Mighty Avengers is mentioned, and given as his explanation for changing the Phalanx's tactics.
Cold-Blooded Torture: The Phalanx resort to this when Peter Quill claims any attempt to integrate him will automatically kill them. Ultron calls them on it and brings out the Encephalo Ray.
Cool Sword: Phyla-Vell's default construct with the Quantum Bands is a sword. She has a meltdown when she breaks it.
Gamora's still got her sword, Godslayer.
Curb-Stomp Battle: Nova tries to take on Annihilus single-handed. He gets his ass handed to him.
Ronan versus Ravenous, who only a few months before (in-universe) survived fights with the Silver Surfer. Ronan takes a good chunk of Ravenous's face off.
Custom Uniform: Richard Rider's Nova outfit is altered to a new design in order to regulate the full power of the Nova Force.
Dark and Troubled Past: Peter Quill, due to an unpleasant incident involving a former herald of Galactus and a colony full of innocents. As Kree captain Chan-Dar notes, these sorts of pasts have a tendency to catch up on people.
Defiant to the End: Facing off against several Phalanx, and Ultron in Adam Warlock's body, Peter Quill just tells them to do their worst. Fortunately Nova chooses that moment to pull a Big Damn Heroes moment.
Enemy Mine: Blastaar, usually an antagonist to the Nova Corps and the Fantastic Four, supplies Nova, Peter Quill and Phyla-Vell with teleportation tubes that will allow them to get them close to Annihilus.
Also, Ronan and Super-Skrull are usually villains but help Nova and the others defeat the Annihilation Wave. In fact, Ronan and Super-Skrull being on the same side counts as well; Kree and Skrulls hate each other.
Freudian Slip: During a particularly heated argument, Nova calls the Worldmind "Dad".
From Bad to Worse: From day one. First the Nova Corps is wiped out. Then Quasar gets killed, allowing Annihilus to take his quantum bands, becoming even more powerful. Then the Wave ploughs through the Skrull Empire. The United Front manages to hold them off for a while, and then the Wave manages to capture Galactus, and turn him into a weapon. After that, the United Front just gives up, forcing Nova, Phyla-Vell and Quill to try and take on Annihilus alone.
And just when the heroes finally "killed" Annihilus and started bringing stability to the universe, Ultron and the Phalanx come a-knockin'.
The Gadfly: The Super-Skrull loves making pithy comments at Ronan's expense every few seconds.
Godzilla Threshold: In an attempt to break through the Phalanx's barrier, the Badoon use something called a Continuum Ram. The captain of the lead ship on hearing this remarks that he doesn't know which is worse; that the Badoon have such a weapon, that they don't care whether everyone else knows it exists, or that it didn't work.
Gotta Catch 'Em All: Annihilus' forces are hunting down the heralds of Galactus. They irreparably damage the Air-Walker when they learn he's just a robot.
Got Volunteered: Peter Quill's squad. They were all in prison before hand, most of them for minor acts. Rocket Racoon, for example, was in there for parking tickets. But since none of them are Kree, they're the perfect choice to send on a Suicide Mission.
Rocket claims Groot volunteered to bring down the Babel Spire by being set on fire. Apparently his exact words were: "I AM GROOT!"
Hive Mind: Pretty much all of the Annihilation Wave is controlled through Annihilus and his Queens. Which is good, since killing him or the Queens will pretty much leave the wave without direction.
Honor Before Reason: Deathcry keeps getting offended by Captain Universe accidentally making slights on her honor. Combined with a Hair-Trigger Temper, and she eventually tries to kill him. He vaporises her without meaning to in self-defense.
Hulk Speak: Drax starts out speaking like this. Then he dies and comes back to life smarter.
Kree Resources: The Phalanx do this to fuel their Babel Spire, killing thousands of Kree a day.
Implacable Man: Drax, Ronan. The Annihilation Wave barely slows either of them down.
Insistent Terminology: The Phalanx are very clear that Great Ultron is to be referred to as Great Ultron.
Loads and Loads of Characters: Okay, let's see: we have the main characters, Nova, Drax, Kl'rt, Silver Surfer, Ronan, and then we have side characters like Firelord (and the rest of the Heralds), Paibok the Power Skrull, Gamora, Moondragon, Thanos, Phyla-Vell, Quasar, Star-Lord, and many, many others. Suffice to say, if they're a space hero, they were probably seen, even if only in a cameo.
Mercy Kill: Ronan does this to the Supreme Intelligence, once he finds what House Fiyero have done to it.
The Mole: R'kin, who turns on Kl'rt just as he was about to destroy the Harvester of Sorrow.
Mind Rape: Ultron's encephalo ray. Even with Mantis providing a buffer, it still makes Peter Quill scream his head off.
New Super Power: Adam Warlock gets some new powers after he wakes up, but since he was woken up early, there's a lot of initial teething trouble, which causes him physical pain at the worst possible moments.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Drax finally manages to accomplish his goal in life, and kills Thanos... just as he was about to free Galactus.
Fighting the Super-Adaptoid gives it enough information to copy Phyla-Vell's Quantum Bands for itself.
Nineties Anti-Hero: Wraith fits the trope to a tee: Mysterious and brooding loner? Check. Short and dark name? Check. Got his powers from evil entities? Check. He even has a bike similar to Lobo's.
One-Winged Angel: Ultron tries this at the end of Conquest to stave off defeat by forming all of Ronan's Kree Sentries into a giant version of himself.
Only Mostly Dead: Even after being lobotomised and given a Mercy Kill by Ronan, the Supreme Intelligence was still alive, until the Phalanx found it. Wraith manages to kill it for good (until a couple of years later, that is).
Planet Eater: Besides Galactus, there's the Harvester of Sorrow. After Super-Skrull blows that up, Annihilus and Thanos capture Galactus and make him into one (well... More of one).
Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: A lot of the final battles in Annihilation end with one large battle cry. Special mentions go to Ronan's "GUILTY!", Galactus "HERALD MY RAGE!" and Nova's defiant "THIS IS FOR THE NOVA CORPS!"as he finally kills Annihilus, ending the war.
Revenge Before Reason: Phyla tries to rush Ultron after he kills Moondragon, never mind that she's hopelessly outclassed. Adam quickly rescues her.
Ridiculously Human Robot: Gabriel the Air-Walker is a ridiculously Xandarian robot, but since the average Xandarian looks pretty human, he still qualifies.
Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Richard tries this immediately after getting the Nova Force, winding up with his blacking out and crashing. He quickly admits that it was a stupid move.
Sanity Slippage: Richard Rider is unwilling to take the entire Nova Force because this happened to the last person who did it. Ultimately, there isn't much choice. He does have a momentary burst of rage, complete with Slasher Smile, but beyond that nothing.
The fact that he's got the Worldmind and Drax nearby helps.
Scaled Up: Moondragon turns into a dragon in Conquest. She makes it clear it's a one-way thing, and that it's also the result of Demonic Possession by the Dragon of the Moon, which she has a history with.
Sealed Evil in a Can: In the beginning of the universe, Galactus imprisoned Tenebrous of the Darkness Between and Aegis Lady of All Sorrows in the Kyln. The Annihilation Wave set them free.
Shell-Shocked Veteran: Richard Richard was the last survivor of the Nova Corps. He spent four days alternating between not doing anything and passing out, until the Worldmind summoned him, and even then he's still in a nasty state of shock.
Shooting Superman: At the beginning of Conquest, a group of thugs try to shoot Phyla-Vell. It goes as well as you'd expect.
Time Skip: Annihilation tie-ins end at different points in time ('Annihilation: Nova' ends 11 days after Xandar's destruction, 'Annihilation: Ronan' 99 days, for example). Nova, Ronan, Silver Surfer and Super-Skrull never meet each other during their respective tie-ins. The main series starts several months later, withe those characters already having organized a unified resistance.
Took a Level in Badass: Richard Rider takes several, going from perennial C-lister to one of the most powerful superheroes Marvel has.
Villain Override: Ultron manages to take over Praxgora, and makes her self-destruct in the process. Then he takes over several hundred Kree Sentries.
Villainous Rescue: Galactus plays a vital role in bringing down the Annihilation Wave.