Monday, January 19, 2009

It Came From The Back Issue Box: DC Comics Presents Annual #2

With the Superwoman arc starting in Supergirl this week, I thought I would dust off DC Comics Presents Annual #2 to review. Written by Elliot S! Maggin and drawn by Keith Pollard, this was the first appearance of Superwoman in the DCU.

The book opens in the year 2862 at Columbia University where history professor Kristin Wells is teaching a class about Superwoman. Superwoman is described as "quite possibly the greatest heroine of the 20th century". Guess Wonder Woman and Supergirl don't rate.

Seems Superwoman is the possessor of the last unknown secret identity and is most famous for an inspirational speech she gave when she first appeared which included a oft-quoted phrase 'Let history bear witness that no American ever had to bow to a tyrant!"

Her class puts up the slide above saying that all of Superwoman's abilities can be explained by current 2862 tech. In fact they convince Professor Wells to go back in time and try to figure out who Superwoman was and how she got her powers.

Wells gets the okay from the University and travels back in time setting herself up as a temp at the Daily Planet. She almost immediately finds the Superwoman costume in Lois Lane's closet. Could Lois be Superwoman?

Turns out that the first appearance of Superwoman also coincides with a major attack by a villain named King Kosmos. Kosmos seems a pretty vanilla bad guy, flying in his space cruiser and spouting tired bad guy chatter.

Wells thought she timed her arrival a couple of days before this date but she was off. Kosmos arrives and starts shooting up Metropolis. Superman confronts him but gets temporarily shot back in time by Kosmos' beams.

Wells knows from her history books that Superwoman helps Superman defeat Kosmos and so begs Lois to put on the costume and fly to the rescue. Lois informs Kristin that the costume is for Linda Danvers who is coming in for a Daily Planet costume party that night.

Hmmm ... maybe Linda (Supergirl) Danvers is Superwoman?

Superman comes back from his temporal side trip and starts asking Kristin for info about Kosmos but Wells is pretty reluctant to give up any information for fear of disrupting the time stream. However, throughout her stay small things occur like the rescue above. She knows from her history books that this young girl needs to be saved from an oncoming car. That young girl ends up becoming famous and dedicates a scholarship in Clark's name.

Wells ends up going to the costume party. Kosmos detects Superman's energy signature at the house and bathes it in an energy beam which knocks out just about everyone there including both Superman and Supergirl! Some weapon! Wells is able to protect herself using some 2862 tech to 'poke a hole' in space she can safely stay in.

Wells then figures it all out ... she is Superwoman! And Superwoman's powers are derived from future devices.

In the meantime, Kosmos declares himself ruler of Earth and simultaneously takes out every super-hero on Earth with lasres ... all in one fell swoop. Maybe he is a serious threat after all.

That means the only active super-hero is Superwoman. She breaks into Kosmos' ship, interrupting his transmission and saying her famous line.

Kosmos tells Superwoman he is going to make good on his threat to destroy America unless all kneel before him. He knocks her out and dumps her into space. He then uses his ship to make a nuclear powered satellite drop from the sky and aimed right at Dallas. The result will be the equivalent of a nuclear strike.

So ... let me get this straight ... he has the capability to knock out every superhero on Earth and his big plan is to drop a satellite from the sky? Maybe he isn't a serious threat.

Superman luckily recovers and is able to intercept the satellite before detonation. Wells helps by teleporting Superman into deep space where he can detonate it safely.

When Superman returns to Earth, he finds Kosmos and Wells both gone. Wells has left him a message though ... to travel back in time to Washington D.C. in 1865.

Kosmos, who has time travelling circuitry decided that 1865 might be an easier time to try to conquer Earth. He is met above the White House by first Superwoman and then Superman. The two battle King Kosmos to a standstill. Kosmos decides that retreat is his best option and so slips into the time stream to try to escape.

The three race through time. Superwoman knocks Kosmos navigational controller from his hand. Superman throttles him sending him rolling through the folds of time ... lost forever. (Although Wells says this was the 'first time' Supes beat Kosmos, thus setting up a potential other meeting.)

And so the mystery of 'who was Superwoman' was solved. Wells was Superwoman. And, it turns out, Jimmy Olsen's descendant (she had rebuffed his advances throughout the comic).

This is sort of a silly issue. Kosmos is pretty 2 dimensional although he seems to have amazing toys. Wells' devices seem pretty powerful for what is considered 'everyday machines'. All together fairly forgettable.

It is somewhat amusing that Karsta took the name Kristin Wells when on Earth. I doubt she is the current Superwoman. But we'll see.

Overall grade: C


TalOs said...

Hmmm, two things I never did understand about Pre-COIE DCU E-1 continuity Superwoman or the Legion of Super-Heroes is exactly how could they even exist when the same E-1 was supposedly merged in to the Post-COIE sole single Earth during the actual Crisis mega event itself? So how could Superwoman, and the LOSH (Legion of Super-Heroes) eras own Laurel Kent member even be able to fight along side a young E-1 Superboy as well as his Kryptonian cousin Supergirl when the time lines occur AFTER the 84 Crisis resulted in E-1 merging in to a single Earth and whole new time lines that didn't include Superman having a Kryptonian cuz Kara Zor-El/"Linda Lee Danvers"/ Supergirl eh? *Scratches head in a very confused like manner*

Anywho, all that aside I truly loved the Pre-COIE DCU E-1 continuity Kristin Wells/Superwoman and even found it hilarious when the E-1 20th Century eras Jimmy Olsen had fallen in love and was trying to court Kristin where she tried to get away from him with Kristin knowing full well that he was actually her biological ancestor! HA! Classic! :D

Unfortunately, that Superwoman designed Super suit itself never really did grow on me in the end. *Sighs*

Gene said...

Thanks for the review Anj.
If anybody wants to read this story it has been republished in the recently released trade paperback "Superman: Past and Future."