published by Marvel Comics
and created by Stan Lee
and Jack Kirby
. Annihilus first appeared in Fantastic Four Annual #6
Insects and their ilk are often used as the basis for heroes and villains within comic book stories. Ant Man, the Wasp, the Green Hornet and others along with arachnid-based heroes like Spider-Man, the Tarantula and the Black Widow serve to show that the entomological realm is rife with potential inspiration for the comics writer. Seldom, however, are actual insects used as villains or heroes, though Annihilus is an exception to that.
The creature that would become Annihilus began life as the result of an exploratory expedition into the anti-matter universe known as the Negative Zone by beings from the planet Tyanna. Seeking to seed new worlds with life, the Tyannas equipped space ships that could seed uninhabitted worlds with spores that would create life to live on those worlds. One ship, however, met with an accident as it was visiting the world of Arthos. The ship subsequently crashed critically injuring all on board. As a last act, the survivors seeded that world with the spores.
Years past, and one of the spores became an insect creature. Strong and highly aggressive, this creature eventually found its way back to the Tyannan ship and was able to access a helmet that was able to transmit the accumulated knowledge of the Tyannan race into its mind. Armed with this advanced knowledge and now calling itself Annihilus, the creature created for itself a suit of armor to add to its strength and protection. It was also able to use the technology of the ship and some of the unreleased spores to create the Cosmic Control Rod, a device of untold power, that the creature used to extend its life indefinitely. This soon became Annihilus's great goal, the infinite extension of its life. In the years that followed, Annihilus began to venture away from Arthos and conquer the surrounding worlds in a bid to eliminate any threat to itself. Unfortunately for Annihilus, it would soon find itself opposed by a different calibre of foe.
In our dimension, Reed Richards, Mr. Fantastic and leader of the Fantastic Four, found himself in one of the most important tasks of his life. His wife Susan (the Invisible Woman) was expecting their first child, but the cosmic rays to which the Fantastic Four had been exposed and which gave them their powers were causing unexpected complications and threatened both the life of the mother and child. Richards put his incredible intellect to the task of finding a solution and soon discovered that it lay in a single item: the Cosmic Control Rod that Annihilus possessed.
Accompanied by the Thing and the Human Torch, Richards journeyed to the Negative Zone and battled Annihilus for the Rod. With time running out, the trio finally gained control of the rod and were able to use it to cure Susan. The Richards' first child Franklin was born soon after.
Annihilus later regained the Cosmic Control Rod and has crossed paths with the Fantastic Four on a number of occasions since then. He has at times teamed with another villain from the Negative Zone - Blaastar. Blaastar later betrayed Annihilus, taking the Cosmic Control Rod for his own uses. Annihilus was again able to retrieve it after a time.