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The Fantastic Four had assumed that the antimatter universe called the Negative Zone could produce no creature more abominable than Blastaar, the Living Bomb-Burst. They were wrong. In the extraordinary tale “Let There Be Life!” in Fantastic Four Annual #6 (1968), written by Stan Lee and illustrated by Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott, Marvel Comics' super-family stands on the threshold of its most joyous moment: the impending birth of Reed (Mr. Fantastic) and Sue (Invisible Girl, later Woman) Richards' first child. Difficulties with Sue's pregnancy compel Reed and his teammates, the Thing and the Human Torch, to venture into the hazardous Negative Zone to obtain the only device known to man that will spare the lives of Sue and her unborn child. The authoritarian lord of much of the Zone, Annihilus—once an insect/humanoid mutated into a cosmically powered conqueror after discovering a helmet possessing the hoarded knowledge of the intellectually superior Tyannan race— stands in their way. Only the bond of familial love empowers the heroes to succeed and escape Annihilus' wrath, returning to Earth just in time to help Sue bring young Franklin Richards into the world. Protected by an astonishingly sophisticated exoskeleton, Annihilus can withstand the Thing's mightiest blows and the Torch's blazing heat. His metallic wings whisk him through the voids of the Negative Zone, and his weapon of choice—the Cosmic Control Rod, worn upon his collarbone and capable of projecting inestimable force—allows Annihilus to swarm like a lethal locust. He has occasionally allied with Blastaar to attack the Fantastic Four, but their Negative Zone turf wars and Blastaar's efforts at acquiring the Cosmic Control Rod have made them more foes than friends. Pushed to the brink of madness by his quest to destroy, Annihilus has infested Earth on several occasions. A 2005 encounter with the FF, in the miniseries Fantastic Four: Foes #2, permitted readers a better understanding of the twisted intellect that drives Annihilus on his unending path of extermination. In the pages of Marvel Comics' reimagination of the FF, Ultimate Fantastic Four (2004–present), Annihilus exists in the altered form of Nihil, an alien with a lengthy lifespan who schemes to abandon his ancient universe of the N-Zone for the greener pastures of the Ultimate FF's Earth. Veteran animation voice actor Clyde Kusatsu played the traditional Marvel version of Annihilus in the “Behold the Negative Zone” episode of the third Fantastic Four cartoon (1994–1996); an Annihilus action figure was merchandized as a tie-in to the show.
The Supervillain Book: The Evil Side of Comics and Hollywood © 2006 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.