Marvel Comics is teasing a new "Annihilation" event at San Diego Comic-Con 2019. Marvel looks set to dominate SDCC 2019, with Marvel Studios holding a Hall H panel on Saturday where they're expected to announce some of their Phase 4 slate.
But SDCC 2019 is important for Marvel Comics, as well. The publisher tend to use Comic-Con to begin their marketing push for the next major events; this time around, there's been a particular focus on Jonathan Hickman's upcoming X-Men relaunch. But it's a safe bet that Marvel has a few good surprises in store - and one of them may have been revealed at a retailer event at SDCC on Friday.
According to Newsarama, Marvel used the retailer event to release a single image. It showed a classic Fantastic Four villain, Annihilus, with the tagline "Annihilation is only the beginning..." Marvel confirmed that this comic will begin in 2019, and that writer Donny Cates is involved with the project.
The original "Annihilation" event launched in 2006, and essentially reinvigorated the entire Marvel Cosmic line. Up until "Annihilation," Marvel's cosmic heroes had often felt like something of an afterthought in the comics; they dropped by Earth every now and again for a team-up, but were otherwise removed from the Marvel Universe's overarching narrative. "Annihilation" changed all that, giving the heroes a crossover event of their own that was every bit as spectacular as "Civil War" or "Secret Invasion." Marvel used the arc as an opportunity to reinvent the Guardians of the Galaxy - and there's no doubt that, had "Annihilation" not been a success, Marvel Studios would never have risked giving a green light to James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy movie.
It's interesting to see Donny Cates' name connected to this project. Cates is best known for his popular Venom run, which unveiled the God of the Symbiotes and explored the ancient history of the Klyntar race. He's already writing the current Guardians of the Galaxy series, as well as a Silver Surfer: Black miniseries. It's beginning to look as though Cates is becoming one of Marvel's chief architects, with a focus on the cosmic side of things. If so, by taking up the "Annihilation" tag, he's signifying the sheer scale of his ambition.
The teaser image, and the associated text, offer important clues as to the potential plot. Annihilus is a warlord in the Negative Realm who desires to expand his territory into the mainstream Marvel Universe. He leads an almost unlimited army known as the Annihilation Wave, and he's well known for the complexity of his plans. Given that's the case, the tagline that "Annihilation is only the beginning" may suggest he had another plan in motion all those years ago. If so, he's about to shake Marvel's heavens.