Review: Action Comics Annual #1
Published by DC Comics
Written by Sholly Fisch
Art by Cully Hamner
Written by Max Landis
Art by Ryan Sook
There are a lot of flash forwards and flashbacks so I’m just going to really paraphrase the story itself. The story pretty much begins with a man named Raymond getting questioned by Abernathy (one of Luthor’s scientists) about undergoing a procedure to become K-Man. Raymond was in an earlier issue being thwarted by the t-shirted Superman from abusing his wife. The procedure goes awry and gives Raymond more power than expected. Superman is meeting with Doctor Irons in his lab to determine whether or not he is a threat. Luthor is getting canned from General Lane because of his involvement with the Collector of Worlds. Superman and K-Man get involved in some fisticuffs with one another with K-Man getting the upper hand. However, Doctor Irons arrives on the scene and aids Superman. Irons becomes inspired by Superman that he travels the world seeking to help people in need. Luthor is angry at Abernathy for utilizing the very little Kryptonite he has, but it pleased to find out that it can hurt Superman. General Lane is upset that people consider Superman a hero and then enlists Raymond/K-Man to help them against him. He is willing to co-operate provided that they locate his wife for him who was placed in hiding from him by Superman. The second story is deals with the Atomic Skull becoming the Atomic Skull. He is a scientist of some sort who is involved in a submarine accident and becomes irradiated in the process. He is stranded on an island and uses his newfound powers to help him survive the wilderness. The end of the story has him ripping his face off and sitting on the beach with his skull exposed with purple energy now instead of green (as it was in the pre-52 DC).
I enjoy reading stories that are told in a non-linear fashion. The Raymond character was written effectively as an abuser. He placed himself as the victim and blamed others for his troubles even though they were self-inflicted. In addition, he claimed that he loved his wife in a way that was believable. Rather than take responsibility for his actions he took all of his frustration out on Superman. This was a believable and realistic take on an abuser. I enjoyed Dr. Irons coming to assist Superman once again. No matter what universe you’re in, Dr. Irons is inspired by Superman. Seeing this occur on an up-close and personal level is effective at making him want to really make the world a better place. Their relationship could’ve taken a sour turn in this issue, but it didn’t thanks in large part to Irons’ response. His solution for helping to defeat K-Man was something that I’m surprised I’ve never thought of before. Perhaps this solution was used before and I’ve never seen it, but I enjoyed it. Luthor was well-written as being such an egotistical s.o.b. I laughed at his reaction to General Lane. Also, we know that Superman’s weakness is Kryptonite and I’m glad that they got to that fairly quickly and believably in the 52-verse. It made it less tedious to get through. The second story had no dialogue in it whatsoever and it was suitable because the guy was stranded on an island with no other people. I haven’t read anything for awhile with Sook’s art in it so it was nice to look at. This story could’ve really been brutal though if the wrong artist was chosen to do it. One thing I enjoyed about this annual is that it was linked to the main story in a way, but it still read like a stand-alone as annuals often do.
The art wasn’t bad, but it didn’t wow me either. It all comes down to people’s tastes though and this isn’t what I particularly like. However, I would encourage someone to open it up and judge for themselves whether it’s a drawback or not. Cully Hamner has had a lot of experience in the field and there are a lot of people that are fond of his work. However, this was Superman’s first exposure to Kryptonite in the New(ish) 52 and it could’ve been rendered more dramatically. I wanted to see the agony on his face and fear from not knowing what was causing it initially. Also, a thought bubble during the battle or a sentence with Dr. Irons after the battle to explain how it affected him would’ve been appreciated. I’d like to know fully if Kryptonite has any different effects on Superman now than it did prior in the old DCU. I’m just wondering because his costume is different all-around and there are other significant changes as well. I did enjoy the main story as it was nicely told, but I don’t know if it was 5 dollars good. I wasn’t really into the back-up story the first time around, but warmed up to it the second time. I think it was the price tag in the back of my mind that kept me from enjoying it more initially. What I would like to see with relation to artists is to use an annual to give an up and comer a shot. DC has done a great job of this with their writers so I’d like to see this extend more to artists as well more often. K-Man? I can’t think of anything better offhand, but it still sounded pretty cheesy. The way that Luthor got his hands on the Kryptonite didn’t really seem all that believable either. Those shards seemed fairly thick in previous pages and it doesn’t seem plausible that he could “lift” them without getting noticed. I mean, the guys had a good vantage point so I don’t see how they could’ve missed that.
Buy It, Borrow It, Shelf Read It, or Ignore It?
I have to say…Borrow it. The story was enjoyable, but the art didn’t really fit this book. The back-up story was good, but I flew through it in about a minute and a half. I just can’t recommend people to buy it for 5 dollars. If it came with a lower price tag then it would be a different case, but it’s not. This was a tough call though because I did enjoy Dr. Irons in this book and I hope that he does continue to appear on a recurring basis. His approach to heroism was great and very symbolic. If your LCS has the practice of lowering a book’s price after a certain period then you might want to give it a chance. Or if you’re a fan of Hamner’s work then perhaps you’d enjoy it. However, what I thought after reading was I wish I just borrowed it from my buddy in a couple of weeks after he was done with it. It was worth reading, but it wasn’t a must-read this week for me either.