Hank McCoy (Before the Fur)

Annihilation was so frickin’ awesome. I mean, you have to really appreciate the unsung Marvel Comics space saga. I mean, there are under-appreciated characters- and then there are these guys. Really, really obscure stuff. Not that the alien races that make up the backdrop of the Marvel U are obscure. Quite the opposite- The Kree, The Skrulls, the Shi’Ar, The Brood and others are constants. But usually, they’re just that: backdrop. Not only are they backdrop, they’re backdrop that has been run around in so many different directions by so many different writers that it was hard to really keep track of what was going on. It seemed like someone was always at war with somebody else- only this time it was THE REAL war, the BIG war, the one you, the reader, had been waiting for. It was like the writers were always trying to break out of mediocrity with all that space-saga stuff and make it a bigger deal. But save for a few classic stories here and there- The Kree/Skrull War, the Phoenix Saga, the Trial of Reed Richards and Operation Galactic Storm (terribly under-rated)- it just never seemed to happen. But I always loved that the aliens were there. See, I’m one of those guys that loves setting, context. I love seeing the way universes are designed and the continuity that holds them all together. I like the idea that someone, somewhere could make an RPG of the space-saga Marvel Universe and there’d be a list of races to choose from- only instead of ‘elf’ or ‘dwarf’, it’d be ‘Asgardian’ or ‘Titan’. Or, if you’re really hardcore than ‘Space Knight’ and ‘Dire Wraith’ could be on the list. Rom fans- much love, my fallen brothers. Rage, rage against the dying of the light. On top of that, there’s also that host of heroes that never quite feel right when they’re in a story that’s happening on Earth. Silver Surfer, Nova, Drax the Destroyer…Adam Warlock and Thanos totally fascinate me. I just love the idea that they are…not quite friends. I don’t think they like each other. But they get each other. And Warlock hasn’t gone about ridding the universe of Thanos and Thanos, surprisingly, has helped Warlock out of a few jams. But yeah. We’re talking the most obscure of the obscure. Take Rocket Racoon for example. Really. He’s a Racoon. A space Racoon. But a Racoon. (I totally love Rocket though). Anyway, the point is, people are kind of ‘doing it right’ with the cosmic scale stuff. Secret Invasion, Annihilation, Annihilation: Conquest- it’s come a long way from Infinity War and Infinity Crusade. Like I really need a comic filled with every Marvel comics character, ever, just for the hell of it. The premise isn’t bad- an execution in which only a handful of characters have speaking roles is kind of weak. The Phalanx. Totally love ‘em. Well, I loved them when they first reared their ugly head in X-Men. But the thing was? Nothing happened. I mean, there was a story- with all of the X-Men in it. And they were fighting the Phalanx. But what was it about? What was the Phalanx trying to do? How did the X-Men stop them? …the story was definitely called The Phalanx Covenant. And it introduced the Phalanx. That’s all I, and I’d wager most people, recall. It was just one of those over-hyped stories that went nowhere. But see, the concept was always cool and intricate, in regards to the mythology. What are the Phalanx, you say? I’m GLAD YOU ASKED- I thought I’d take the time to explain a little bit about them, so that you might be tempted to run out the door and read Annihilation: Conquest. The Phalanx are the synthetic cousins of another space race called the Technarchy. The Technarchy are a form of ‘techno-organic’ life. Their planet is covered with flowing wires, diodes, circuitry, and whatever. They’re like living machinery, and their forms flow around like water. So emphasis on the ‘organic’ part, rather than a bunch of killer robots. The Technarchy are mostly hostile though- so yeah, killers, at least. Organic hosts are infected with a techno-organic virus, permanently fusing bits and pieces of living technology all over an individual’s form and subverting their consciousness. Incidentally, this techno-organic virus is the thing that Cable is always expending his telekinetic powers trying to hold in check. Knowing that Cable would be a threat in the future, Apocalypse decided to ice the kid while he had the chance. It didn’t work, thanks to the intervention of…well, it’s a long story. But the point is, Cable would be ungodly powerful if he didn’t have to spend all of his time worried that he might become a zombified techno-organic monster. Anyway, the Techno-Organic homeworld, Kvch, was introduced in New Mutants- ruled over by a particularly nasty Technarch named Magus. On Kvch, a newly made Technarch fights his father. Magus’ son was, believe it or not, a mutant. Okay, not a mutant like the X-Men are mutants. But through some quirk of chance, a bit of the organic side seemed to weigh a little more heavily in his son’s mind than the technology side. Maybe there was some shred of consciousness of the former being that was consumed by the virus left alive in the child- whatever the case, Warlock, the heir to the Kvch throne, had compassion. Kindness. This was terrifying to the Technarchy (er, well, unacceptable, anyway- they don’t feel, much, you know?)- so Magus went to extra lengths to hunt his son down and kill him. Not just out of tradition- but out of fear of his mutation. Warlock ended up on earth, hiding out from his father, and was taken in by Xavier’s students- who knew a thing or two about being feared for being different. Warlock met his unfortunate end, however, at the hands of Cameron Hodge- who I still say goes down in history as the most truly wacked-out, messed-up, scary X-Men villain ever. Why? Because Hodge was just a guy. Just one really, REALLY hateful guy who was out to get mutants. And he frickin’ got quite a few of them. Well, Hodge WAS just a guy- until he ended up a cyborg-ish monstrosity himself. Anyway, Hodge killed Warlock. And wouldn’t you know it, some crazy scientists got together and started messing aroud with the body. The result was the Phalanx. The Phalanx spreads crazy fast, everywhere, consuming everything it touches. It also doesn’t generate individual consciousness, the way the Technarchy reproduce. See, the Technarchy have this failsafe in the virus. If anything ever goes wrong- if someone uses it without their permission (guess Apocalypse got around this)- than everyone who gets touched with the virus gets formed into a collective consciousness, rather than individual ones. And that consciousness has only one goal, like a computer program- to contact the Technarchy, let the Technarchy know that the virus is out of control, and that the planet that the Phalanx is contacting the Technarchy from should be completely destroyed before it runs rampant throughout the galaxy. Oh YEAH, that’s what that X-Men story was about! Now I remember- the Phalanx were building this thing called a Babel Spire. If they sent a message to the Technarchy, than Earth was going to get eviscerated. So it was pretty epic- well, in theory, it could have been, anyway. SO, now- Conquest. Something went wrong, somewhere, a spread of the virus is everywhere. The weird thing is? There are no Technarch’s around. A few planets got spire’s built-but nobody showed up to clean out the infection. Nova, just one of many heroes dealing with the crisis, actually goes to Kvch during Conquest…hoping to figure out how to stop the Phalanx from spreading. But there’s nothing there. It’s barren. No life, no technology- just nothing. And no explanation why. Meanwhile, the Phalanx adapts another of dangerous components into their fold- including- wouldn’t you know it- Ultron. Granted, the Phalanx is a collective consciousness- but Ultron knows a thing or two about consciousness getting transformed from form to form. Well, you can imagine how things go from there. But anyway, great read, all of it. I hope this primer gives you a better sense of what the hell is going on, exactly. Personally, I’d really love to find out what happened to Kvch. Hopefully some writer somewhere is going to pick that thread up.