Superman Annual: Scott Lobdell, Fabian Nicieza, Pascal Alixe, Marco Rudy, Tom Raney, Elizabeth Torque, Mico Suayan, Blond, Rob Leigh, Kenneth Rocafort
I found myself harboring very mixed feelings about this Annual issue. Scott Lobdell is credited with the plot, while Nicieza is on script duty. Typically I’m okay with that arrangement (see Teen Titans #13), but here it feels like Nicieza’s presence blends so into the background that he may as well not even been there. The issue is total Lobdell. Not that that’s terrible, but it wasn’t outstanding either.
The issue begins way long ago when the Daemonites were weaker. The daemonite man who (I’m assuming) becomes Helspont leaves his kingdom to seek an answer to their failing, mixed DNA. It’s interesting to see how far back this whole thing goes, and to see where they’re coming from…but I guess I don’t understand why they look like humans. Or humanoid. Why don’t they look like Daemonites? Okay, so they’ve been cross-breeding. Why don’t they look MORE like Daemonites?
Then it cuts to Clark and Jimmy in their apartment. Clark’s getting ready for work, and Jimmy’s passed out beneath a sub sandwich. Yeah, it’s revealed that Jimmy Olsen isn’t Superman’s Pal, he’s just a no-good slob. A terrible roommate, apparently, Jimmy is always late, and is just plain irresponsible. You know what, screw that noise. I get that this helps set Jimmy apart from meticulous Clark, but seriously? Sleeping under a sub sandwich? So does he smell too? Come on, Scott.
Out in the city, a massive Daemonite ship appears, carrying Helspont and his ilk aboard. Apparently, Helspont is all-powerful. He might as well be God. He can see Superman looking at him from the surface of the Earth - even though he’s in high orbit - and he appears outside the ship in space with Superman and is able to create his own atmosphere. Thusly he can breathe and speak in space. He also reveals a measure of his true strength by pimp-smacking Superman into the moon’s surface, dazing Superman significantly.
Following this, Helspont’s minions face the major alien players on Earth: J’onn, Kori, and Carter Hall. They are each offered a place alongside Helspont for this “Thirteen Scions of Salvation” business that will…do…some stuff…and people…will…maybe die? I dunno what’s going on with the Thirteen, but it’s made up like a big deal.
Helspont then shows Superman as his minions kill all of his own Daemonite agents that have been waiting in hiding on Earth for thousands of years. Because, apparently, they didn’t follow his fold closely enough. Helspont reveals that the emergence of the superheroes on Earth is exactly what he wanted, and fits directly into his plan to reinvigorate the Daemonite race’s dying DNA. Or something. So…where’s Harvest? From the Culling? This sounds exactly like the type of shpeel I’d expect to hear outta him. Are they working together? It makes a sort of sense….
Superman Annual #1, the verdict: So I really feel like this was just a non-event. The words on the page feel much more like Lobdell’s than Nicieza’s, and the action panels seem to be omitted in favor of panels where the characters explain the action that just happened instead. What the-? The art changes are jarring, and I can’t decide if I like either of them (though the beginning/end sections are better)…and Helspont is now just another all-powerful villain who likes to gloat over things going exactly his way, another Lobdell thing. At least he has motives and goals. To me, the exciting fight against Superman isn’t from someone a trillion times stronger than him…. It’s the villain that can work at him psychologically, get under his skin, make him choose between the impossible. Or even the villain that meets Superman’s strength so at least it’s a fair fight. Superman getting thrown around and being treated like a puss isn’t my type of Superman issue.
(Photo Source: DC Comics)