Friday, January 8, 2016

Review: Superman Annual #3

Superman Annual #3 came out 9 days ago and is the last on my list of behind schedule books to review. As part of The Truth, this annual moves the plot forward while giving us an interesting new back story to Vandal Savage. The credits are vast, listing the main writers of all the Superman books (Kuder, Pak, Yang, and Tomasi) and a serious list of artists including Dan Jurgens, Rafael Sandoval, and Bill Sienkiewicz. I wonder if all the writers needed to be on board to make sure that the plot progresses in a way that makes sense to the overall story.

Like many of the last issues of this mega-arc, I liked this book if only because it seems to be moving The Truth closer to its conclusion. But there are some nice moments mixed in this. I suppose that is the best thing I can say.

We start, on all places, Krypton where a scientist with the name El is telling others the planet is doomed as he runs to a rocket.

Sound familiar?

Except this is Im-El, a thousand years before Jor-El. The doom is a comet about to strike Krypton. And the rocket is a missile to blast the comet of course.

And so this comet takes a new path, one which takes it towards Earth.

I thought this was an interesting wrinkle although it does make the universe feel small, as if there is an interstellar highway between Earth and Krypton. 

A chunk of the comet breaks off and lands in Neanderthal time where it is picked up by Vandal Savage. And it from this stone that he gains his power and his immortality. It is also where he begins a long life of immorality as he slaughters his whole tribe when they refuse to follow him.

It is exposure to more of this comet which Savage craves. He wants more power. And so he keeps trying throughout time to chart the comet and get in contact with it.

So I suppose that maybe all of this energy Savage has been stealing throughout this arc has been in an effort to send him back to this magic stone.

Meanwhile, Clark is recovering and trying to figure out how he can still be a hero.

He spies some plans that John Henry Irons is drafting, perhaps a way to help Clark. I have to say, I was initially hoping this would be plans for the Supermobile. But then I remembered the solicits showing Clark in a sort of super-Iron Man outfit.

There is a sort of odd moment between Clark and Lana where she asks Clark to bow out and carve out a new life without powers. He says that she always wants him to be that boy from Kansas. The look longingly into each others' eyes. I am truly at a loss trying to figure out the Lana/Clark dynamic. I loved her when Pak first brought her back but this hate him/love him, disgust/nostalgia dichotomy is crazy. It is as if every writer brings a different take. This interaction felt odd and strange.

Throughout time, Savage keeps trying to interact with the comet by teaming up with the highest minds of the time. In ancient China, he becomes friends astronomer Zhang Heng. But when Heng refuses to give Savage the information on when the comet will arrive again, Savage kills him.

Again, we see this is as another step in the descent of Savage. He was friends with Heng but he has no regrets when he kills his friend.

We also see him kill Copernicus. And we see him flying a Nazi rocket to try to be near the comet as it comes near Earth again. Maybe this is why he wanted Nazi gunship in Batman/Superman?

But I also hope that we don't see the comet come near Earth again. That would mean it nears Earth every 60 years or so. Too often, no?

Hey look, Lois gets three words!

Perry is giving an inspirational speech to the Planet staff saying the paper needs to regain its credibility and integrity now that it has been revealed that Clark wasn't who he said he was. Clark actually hears this speech and sulks a bit.

I wonder if he heard Lois call his name.

But let's face it. Lois has been a non-star in these Superman books.

We then jump to the next story. Clark gets a JLA summons. Lex is still in charge of the team. A large object, big enough to disrupt gravitational forces, has appeared in the solar system. The League goes to investigate, leaving an exasperated Superman behind. He isn't strong enough to be on this mission.

It is a nice little dig by Luthor, inviting Clark to the pre-party but not allowing him in.

With little else to do, Clark returns to Metropolis where he does some minor heroing, saving a truck from falling off an overpass.

And suddenly, Superman is a hero again. he is mobbed by smiling people wanting to cheer him. What happened to all the hate we have been seeing everywhere else? Still, it is an inspiring Superman who says everyone needs to be a hero.

That large object is the Stormwatch headquarters, which is apparently massive (for those of us who don't know much of Stormwatch, some tiny exposition would have been helpful).

Somehow Savage has taken control of the headquarters, teleports it (or maybe de-phases it?) into Earth's orbit, smashing the JLA watchtower for fun.

There, with Frankenstein, Hordr_Root, and Wrath, Savage declares he will show the world true power.

And so, things continue to progress. Is Savage there because the comet is coming by again? Is the Stormwatch ship big enough that he can corral or contain it? How will Clark get up there to fight? Where are the JLA? Will the Krypton-related comet help Clark regain his powers?

Things are moving closer to an end. Happy New Year!

Overall grade: C

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