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Annihilus (Marvel Comics) during the 1980s

Annihilus

(Part #1 - 1960s/70s)


“Life within the Negative Zone is as shockingly savage… as brutally, inhumanly, incomprehensible as ever… And behind the turmoil and the terror, is the loathsome, lethal being known only as Annihilus… he who annihilates ! Striking without warning, without the slightest vestige of mercy, his motives are as cloaked in mystery as they are couched in menace !”

Context

First, he’s called Annihilus. ANNIHILUS ! That’s awesome.

Second, he’s a Marvel villain who first appeared in 1968. He’s chiefly associated with the Fantastic Four. But he has returned many times to do terrible things and fight many people. Annihilus can be a galactic-scale menace.

Third, you should first have a quick look at our Negative Zone blotter for a sense of place. Then come back here.

Fourth, this profile only covers the late 1960s and the 1970s – otherwise it’d be way too long. More to come when feasible.

Flashback stories have been integrated. But there are powers and properties of Annihilus that had yet to be revealed during this era. So they’re not in this first profile.


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Background

  • Real Name: Annihilus.
  • Other Aliases: The Living Death That Walks, the Lord Of The Negative Zone, Annihilus the Immortal.
  • Marital Status: Not quite applicable.
  • Known Relatives: None at this point.
  • Group Affiliation: None at this point.
  • Base of Operations: The Negative Zone.
  • Height: 5’11” Weight: 200 lbs
  • Eyes: Green. Hair: Nope.


Powers & Abilities

In his first appearance, Annihilus doesn’t display intrinsic physical abilities. There’s no reason to think his capabilities are different from, say, 1950s Lex Luthor.

The main exception is his wings, which allow for flight.


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I SHALL RETURN

When he returns, he :

  1. Has super-strength (“Class 50” or even 60).
  2. Displays superior fighting moves and speed.
  3. Is superhumanly durable. In particular, he seems impervious to flame and heat.

We *assume* he has augmented himself. But in the material it feels more like a retcon . Reed Richards immediately announces that Annihilus possesses great physical power, even though Annihilus has yet to demonstrate any.

Skills

Annihilus is a capable technologist and scientist. He doesn’t seem to be as good as Reed Richards, but that… doesn’t mean much.

His tech stands on the shoulders of a spacefaring civilisation. Thus, his usual engineering work will involve spaceships, energy weapons, advanced metals, etc..

He also seems skilled in artificial life construction and genetic engineering. However, we can’t really tell whether the weird creatures in the stories are Zone natives, living constructs, or modified forms of local life.

Cosmic Control Rod (part 1)

Annihilus’ Rod is the capsule-like device worn under this throat. Its wielder can control it through willpower.

Annihilus (Marvel Comics) (Early) - ranting

The Rod was adapted from Tyannan technology. It seems to incorporate :

  1. The tech that was used in the star drives.
  2. The “seeding” technology used to bring life.

It deals in “cosmic energies”, a vague term the Marvel guys were fond of back then.

There’s a connection between that and the “cosmic rays” that empowered the Fantastic Four. And another with the “power cosmic” used by Galactus, the Silver Surfer and others.

Cosmic Control Rod (part 2)

Applications during this era include :

  • A variety of energy beams, from mild concussive force to disintegration to wide repellor beams.
  • Suspending aging. This gives Annihilus an infinite lifespan.
  • Easily countering the Nega Man (Dr. Richard Janus)’s powers.
  • A personal force field, though Annihilus had to remain immobile while this was active.
  • Draining energy from machinery to embiggen himself. But this seems to be a niche ability – making him stronger and more durable but also much slower.
  • Forming solidified energy out of thin air. This was done to handcuff Wyatt Wingfoot.

Reed Richards also used it to :

  • Erect a force field of cosmic force around three persons. This field could also vaporise what it touched, allowing for rapid boring through matter. But it was popped by a hit from a big energy cannon.
  • Fly himself, plus Johnny and Ben, at spaceship-like speeds.
  • Turn a big missile against its launcher.

Annihilus twice brandished a sort of sceptre and called it his Cosmic Control Rod. I’d imagine that it was just a decoy. Or perhaps a peripheral he was experimenting with.

Who wants, to live, foreeevvveeeeerrrrr

When first encountered, being deprived of his Cosmic Control Rod doesn’t insta-age Annihilus. But this later becomes the case.

Furthermore, during this first encounter, Annihilus didn’t seem to have enhanced strength, durability, speed, etc..

This *suggests* a scenario where :

  1. He isn’t physically enhanced at first, waging war using his Death Ship and the like.
  2. The clash with the Fantastic Four makes him realise there are more powerful beings out there than are dreamt of in his philosophy.
  3. He therefore enhances himself physically with the Control Rod, so he can always face such opponents.
  4. But this burns out his body at a greatly accelerated rate.
  5. However, the Rod is also used to counter this burnout effect… as long as he wields it.

Other tech

Annihilus’ gear includes an unseen instant translation device. Everybody in its vicinity can flawlessly understand each other, without apparent limitations.

In 1971 he used teleportation tech. It was used to teleport to his base and return with additional weapons and creatures. However, that did not become a part of his arsenal.

By 1973 he had replaced or augmented his natural shell with “forged matter/antimatter alloy” (?) armour for even greater durability. This suit seems to cover him entirely, except for his head and wings.

For his ships and weapons, see the next section. Well, the one after the soundtrack.


Soundtrack

So, some 1968 material for a period-appropriate atmosphere, mmm… Let’s go with Miles.

Available for download on Amazon .


Weapons of annihilation

Some distinctive weapons appear during this era.

The Death Ship

Some sort of fast fighter-bomber. The Death Ship was used to attack alien civilisations.

However, we have little sense of scale about these campaigns. Maybe he raided hamlets, maybe he raided warworlds.

Annihilus (Marvel Comics) (Early) - Death ship

Death Ship.

The Rail Plane

A fast shuttle, zipping around on rails in underground tunnels. It is used to travel between hidden bases on Annihilus’ homeworld.

The Rail Plane has no controls. It must be operated through the Cosmic Control Rod. Security measure, heh ?

Annihilus (Marvel Comics) (Early) - Rail plane

Rail plane.

Gunship

A lighter, more fragile vessel than the Death Ship. It seems to be two big cannons and some big missiles bolted onto jet engines. The gunship may have been a predecessor for the Death Ship.

The Gunship had an ablative force field. One of its armoured sections can also be used as a sort of flying skiff.

Annihilus (Marvel Comics) (Early) - Gunship

Gunhip.

Sonic Sponge

A large self-guided missile. The “sonic” aspect is that it’s sonar-guided. This fireproofed projectile gobbles its target to smother it.

Annihilus (Marvel Comics) (Early) - Sonic sponge

Sonic Sponge.

Negato Gun

This is simply an energy pistol. What makes it distinctive is that it can function even within the energy-neutralizing zone around the Distortion Area (see our Negative Zone blotter).

Perhaps it fires positive matter particles, a reaction that wouldn’t be inhibited there.

The “crayship”

This huge spaceship is but briefly seen. It seems entirely automated, though Annihilus can of course take over the controls.

It had a number of automated turrets, but Captain Marvel (Mar-Vell) could fly through its hull.


Armies of Annihilation

Scavengers

Early on, Annihilus doesn’t seem to have servants.

It appears that he eventually built a caste of synthesoids , based on the technology of the Mad Thinker’s Most Powerful Android.

However, the nature of this “Scavengers” isn’t clear. That they are synthesoids is but our *hypothesis*.

It’s not until 1971 that we see Scavengers other than the Android.

Borers

He also keeps captive a school of Borers. These are powerful Negative Zone beasts, but they have very simple minds.

See the Negative Zone blotter for more, since Borers are more commonly encountered in the wilds.

“Buttercup”

Another attack animal is a sort of semi-insectile, wingless dragon. The Thing nicknames it “Buttercup”. It was first seen in 1971.

This creature had super-strength and durability, but not quite on the Thing’s level. It also ignored the Human Torch’s flame.

Annihilus (Marvel Comics) (Early) - Buttercup monster

“Buttercup”.

“Those who wait”

This motley squad was first seen in 1971. It seems to be a mix of monsters from Annihilus’ homeworld, and captured and stupefied sapient  aliens.

Some can fly, others ride a rocket disk. Some have energy beams, others use pistols instead (quite possibly Negato Guns).

Nine such critters are seen, though on one panel there seems to be dozens. They do not seem too different in behaviour from a pack of hunting doggos.

Annihilus (Marvel Comics) (Early) - Those who wait

Those who wait.

Insectivorids

These humanoids resemble a cross between Annihilus, the Parademons, and Bug of the Micronauts.

They wield melee weapons, and seem devoid of intelligence and emotions. They are instead guided by a sort of hive mind.

They come in vast hordes, capable of invading planets.

Annihilus (Marvel Comics) (Early) - Spider-Man vs. insectivorids

Since the Psycho-Man couldn’t find any mentality to affect, it is *possible* that they are mass-produced synthesoids.

The insectivorids responded to Spider-Man (Peter Parker) by following him. They also could understand his speech (or, more likely, his thoughts). This is especially interesting if Spidey’s powers are indeed mystical, “totem”-based.

Insectivorids were only seen in a 1999 flashback taking place circa 1970.


History

Annihilus is allegedly a millennia old.

However, his fantastic origin is even older.

Forerunners

One of the few sapient species that emerged in the Negative Zone were the Tyannan lion people. They achieved space flight and a mastery of biology.

However, they also realised that their homeworld was condemned. One of their projects became to seed the Negative Zone with life.

One Tyannan seeder spaceship collided with an asteroid, and crashed on a volcanic planet. Though the crew was doomed, they still released their biological payload.

Hopefully, one of the small lifeforms they introduced would evolve into something viable.

Challenger of the unknown

The seeding was a success. A working ecology of grotesque monsters emerged.

One species, vaguely resembling Earth insects, was less successful. It was smaller and weaker than most. But it eventually produced a sapient specimen.

Constantly hounded by predators, the future Annihilus only survived thanks to his chitinous shell. Not being carnivorous, he didn’t understand why monsters kept attacking him. He reached the conclusion that they all hated him for being different.

Eventually, the quasi-insect found the wrecked Tyannan ship. Interfacing with telepathic communication devices, he learned of this species and their projects.

But his only thought when learning of Tyannan science was of acquiring enough power to kill all potential tormentors.

Rise of the annihilator

Over the centuries, Annihilus grew in strength, intelligence and knowledge. He even repurposed the powerful Tyannan tech into weapons, such as his Cosmic Control Rod.

He also built the Death Ship, an advanced starship. The Death Ship was used to annihilate at least one alien settlement. The paranoid Annihilus was convinced that he needed to destroy all life to preserve his own.

Annihilus also captured nearby spacefarers, keeping one of each species to study their strengths and weaknesses. When first seen, he had perhaps a dozen such captives. Plus an arena where they would fight to the death for Annihilus to observe their powers.

There exists a positive zone !

Annihilus’ first contact with Earth-616  took place in 1968. The Mad Thinker’s “Most Powerful Android” had fallen through Reed’s portal, and entered the Negative Zone.

Annihilus avidly experimented on it to turn it into a different creature – and perhaps a synthesoid species.

Mere months later, three of the Fantastic Four came in. Annihilus captured them for experimentation.

However, Reed Richards deduced the nature of the Cosmic Control Rod. The FF then stole it, confirming Annihilus’ paranoia, and attempted to flee.

Everyone ended up shipwrecked in the Distortion Area. However, a desperate deal was struck. Richards returned the Rod, after tapping a sample of its energy. And Annihilus returned the FF’s jetpacks. Both parties could thus fly home.

(The cosmic energy sample from the Rod was used to save the lives of Susan and Franklin Richards from last-minute pregnancy complications.)

Negative Zone vs. Sub-Atomica

The Psycho-Man then discovered the existence of the Negative Zone. However, his probes and scans alerted Annihilus. The Death That Walks had his insectivorid armies invade Sub-Atomica and hound the Psycho-Man.

Though the Silver Surfer and Spider-Man (Peter Parker) interfered, Annihilus and his armies eventually reached Psycho-Man. The outcome of this titanic clash is unrevealed, as Spidey and the Surfer left to evacuate captured humans.

(Insectivorid servants are not seen later on. Furthermore, we observe that insectivorid strike teams could be teleported to Earth to hunt the Psycho-Man, whereas Annihilus cannot normally do that. Therefore, it stands to reason :

  1. That the insectivorid armies were left behind in Sub-Atomica, perhaps to keep the Psycho-Man busy for years.
  2. That the insectivorid strike teams were teleported to Earth from Sub-Atomica, rather than the Negative Zone.
  3. That Annihilus was forced to retreat in the end.)

(This story was published in 1999, though it takes place circa 1970. It depicts Annihilus regenerating himself. But that concept had yet to be introduced in the period stories, so it’s not in our game stats.)

Latveria vs. Negative Zone

Doctor Doom then invaded the Negative Zone. Perhaps weakened by his clash with the Psycho-Man, Annihilus was beaten and a Death Ship destroyed.

Doom took the Cosmic Control Rod, as part of his plan to wield Galactus’ cosmic power.

The FF, who were pursuing Doom, agreed to return the Rod. They knew that otherwise, Annihilus would pour everything he had into a desperate invasion of Earth to find Doom.

They eventually were successful.

Traitors and broomsticks

In 1971, the Nega-Man (Richard Janus) entered the Negative Zone. However, Annihilus easily struck him down.

To save his own life, Janus offered to guide Annihilus to Earth to destroy humanity. Craving revenge against the FF, Annihilus took the deal.

However, the FF struck first. The Nega-Man was sucked into the Outer Distortion Area before he could tell Annihilus anything. And though Mister Fantastic was stranded in the Zone for a short while, the FF and Ms. Agatha Harkness covered his retreat so Annhilus couldn’t follow.

(By this point Annihilus is clearly seen as having servants, more than a pair of spaceships, etc.. This wasn’t apparent in older stories.)

Alarum and incursions (part 1)

The Red Ghost then allied with Annihilus and Blastaar. The project was to capture Rick Jones to study his nega-bands. This could unlock great power, including teleportation to and from the Zone.

However, Captain Marvel (Mar-Vell) and Jones defeated this plan. The pair never quite engaged the two Negative Zone tyrants, instead focusing on preventing a duplication of their power bands.

Mere months later, Annihilus responded to another brief opening of a portal to Universe-616. But the Vision, the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver delayed him. Annihilus thus saw Earth for but a few seconds before the portal was cut off.

Alarum and incursions (part 2)

In 1972, Annihilus detected Rick Jones floating in the Zone. However, when Annihilus came in, Jones blasted him away using the Destiny Force.

The next portal came mere months later. The Frightful Four (well, Three) had invaded the Baxter Building. The Wizard experimented with the Negative Zone portal. Annihilus started draining energy off Richards’ machines, enlarging and reinforcing his body so he could step through.

But at the last moment, the Torch (Johnny Storm) and Spider-Man (Peter Parker) defeated the invaders and shut the portal down. Yadda yadda meddling kids.

Oh boy oh boy oh boy

In 1973, Annihilus realised that the Rod was no longer suspending his aging. This was seemingly a consequence of Richards having taken a sample back during their first encounter.

He developed :

  • A way to force open the Zone portal in the Baxter Building.
  • A way to briefly force open a free-standing portal from Earth to the Negative Zone. However, this consumed huge stores of energy, then imploded matter-side when it closed.

Annihilus used the latter to kidnap Agatha Harkness. He then forced her to capture Susan and Franklin Richards. Franklin was then used as a catalyst in a cosmic machine. This would greatly bolster Annihilus’ Control Rod.

Annihilus was defeated once Franklin was unplugged from the machine. However, the exposure to cosmic energy had mutated the kid, forcing Reed to abruptly plunge Franklin into a coma.

Rebel rebel

Meanwhile, a Scavenger — who had been the Mad Thinker’s “Most Powerful Android” — took the Cosmic Control Rod from Annihilus. The synthesoid mutated himself into a gigantic, powerful form.

Weakened and without his Rod, Annihilus had to flee. He could still use some of his peripheral secret bases, but the Monster Android held his main fortress.

In 1974, Annihilus located Rick Jones anew. The Death That Walks thus ended up with a comatose Captain Marvel (Mar-Vell), whom he took to his labs for study.

However, Jones remotely forced the comatose Mar-Vell to fly away. This triggered an explosion that kept Annihilus at bay.

Back in charge

In 1977, Annihilus found a depowered Reed Richards adrift in the Negative Zone. Out of options, he enlisted the Human to make another attempt at taking out the Monster Android.

Shortly after that, the Mad Thinker made contact with his wayward creation. Though he considered using the Monster Android to steal Annihilus’ kingdom, he ended up focusing on the Baxter Building instead.

Richards and Annihilus struck another deal. Annihilus gave Richards his Death Ship to fly back to the Distortion Area. In return, Richards promised to return the Cosmic Control Rod.

This was honoured in a fashion. The Reed Richards of Counter-Earth grabbed the Cosmic Rod from the unconscious Monster Android, and leapt into the Negative Zone.


Description

There are four layers to Annihilus’ appearance :

  1. His core body. It is hidden within his larger body. Plus, its existence had yet to be revealed during this era, so it doesn’t count.
  2. His insectile exobody. It is light green, humanoid and chitinous. Originally it was locust-like, but Annihilus modified it to be more human-like and with thicker limbs.
  3. His shell. This is the magenta “armour” that covers his torso and crotch.
  4. His body armour and accessories.

Personality

Annihilus is made of paranoia. Everything is about his preciousss — his life-sustaining Rod — and every single other creature exists to steal it from him.

If something is not trying to steal his Rod, then it’s clearly a subterfuge to steal his Rod.

Therefore, Annihilus feels utterly justified in destroying and subjugating the entire universe to end this threat.

This paranoia fuels a naked, bombastic, grandiose will to power. Annihilus talks a huge game, and talks *a lot* — see the quotes.

What has propelled the character for decades has simply been the winning combo of Kirby-style visual design and Lee-style thunderous, expansive, cosmic monologues.

Other traits

Annihilus has a certain amount of scientific curiosity. When he encounters something new, he’ll likely want to capture it (the paranoid stage) then study it (the scientific stage).

He’s also more pragmatic than he sounds. Especially when it comes to — wait for it — recovering his Cosmic Control Rod.

Annihilus discovered the existence of fire during this era. Since his tech came from scavenging rather than research, it had leapfrogged the concept of fire. Annihilus continued to find the Human Torch’s flame fascinating, though that never slowed him down one whit.


Quotes

“I am indeed who you think I am… the harbinger of your doom, the agent of your deaths… ANNIHILUS, the IMMORTAL ! Annihilus, master of his universe — and soon, YOUR OWN !”

“Only by crushing all who live, can I be certain that none will ever threaten my greatest treasure ! The treasure whose cosmic power has ever granted me the priceless gift of… immortality ! Here in my hands I hold the most precious item in all the world… my life-giving… life-prolonging Cosmic Control Rod ! AND NO MAN NOR BEAST SHALL EVER WREST IT FROM ME !”

“That boulder cannot shield you from my vengeance ! I can shatter it at will ! AND SHATTER IT — I SHALL !”

“Your meddlesome reign is at an END, deceiver ! Prepare to know doom at the hand of ANNIHILUS !”


DC Universe History

The Negative Zone could also have an obscure portal into the DC Universe. Let’s keep it simple, heh ?

The Challengers of the Unknown, the Justice League, Superman, etc. have fought many space tyrants. Most of those are now entirely forgotten (say, Nekron (the other one)) or have greatly changed since (say, Mongul). So plugging Annihilus in changes little.


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

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Annihilus (1970s)

Dex: 07 Str: 12 Bod: 10 Motivation: Power
Int: 06 Wil: 07 Min: 08 Occupation: Tyrant
Inf: 07 Aur: 06 Spi: 05 Wealth: 017
Init: 020 HP: 050

Powers:
Flame immunity: 12, Flight: 07

Bonuses and Limitations:
Flight is Winged.

Skills:
Gadgetry: 12, Scientist: 09, Vehicles (Space): 03

Advantages:
Genius, Headquarters (Expansive), Rank (Variable by story), Scholar (Tyannan tech).

Connections:
None.

Drawbacks:
MIa toward Paranoia, Power Loss (Not wielding the Rod lowers his Physical Attributes by 2 APs).

Equipment:

  • TRANSLATOR [BODY 02, Comprehend Languages (Area of Effect 3 APs): 25].
  • BODY ARMOUR [BODY 16, Skin armour: 03, Bonus: Skin armour also works vs. energy attacks].
  • COSMIC ROD [BODY 10, Energy blast: 12, Force manipulation: 08, Growth: 03, Multi Attack 2, Advantage (Immortal), Limitations:
    • Force limitation is limited to simple, static objects. Examples have included static force sheaths around himself, transparent walls, or manacles around a person’s wrists. Many cases where Annihilus seems to blast Mr. Fantastic back are modelled here as Force Manipulation wall which Richards crashes into.
    • Growth requires draining massive amounts of energy, and lowers DEX by 2 APs per AP of Growth].

Make mine larval

His 1968 stats could easily be DEX 03 STR 02 BODY 04 or even lower. There isn’t a way to tell.

His Flight also seemed weaker at first. But during this era he’s increasingly drawn as flapping around under his own power rather than using vehicles.


Design notes

Unlike many cosmic villains, Annihilus had read the Flailing Attack rules. He can thus hit high-OV targets – but with survivable EVs of Energy Blast.

Many fights with Annihilus follow the formula where the FF get easily thrashed, then rally and easily thrash the opposition. While this is easy to do in-game using Hero Points (and the use of Skin Armour in his stats reinforces that), it makes estimating AP levels difficult.


Weapons of annihilation

Likewise, there isn’t enough data to hazard stats about most of his vehicles.

The Sonic Sponge could be [DEX 07 STR 05 BODY 06, Flame immunity: 15, Flight: 08, Sonar: 07, Limitation: DEX is Contingent Upon Sonar, the “sonic eye” emitting Sonar isn’t protected by the RV-boosting Powers and the Trick Shot to hit it comes at no OV/RV-boosting penalty]. It likely had other RV boosters beyond Flame Immunity.

The Negato Gun seemed to have Energy Blast: 07 or so. But it worked in the Outer Distortion Area.


Armies of annihilation

“Buttercup” has DEX 03 STR 07 BODY 08, Growth: 06 (Always On, Already Factored In) and Flame immunity: 12. Its huge paws allow for impressive Wrestling manoeuvres – it has AV 07 EV 17 for such. But when Grappling, it uses its normal Attributes.

The insectivorids have something like DEX 03 STR 02 BODY 03 and a spear, on average. They are immune to all mental effects, and function much like ants.

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: THE STAGGERING COSMIC POWER OF UNBRIDLED MARVEL COMICS.

Helper(s): Darci, Kansas Jim.

Writeup completed on the 8th of January, 2020.

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