Art by: Tom Derenick, Tyler Kirkham, Ian Churchill, Ardian Syaf and Emanuela Lupacchino
Cover Price: $4.99
Release Date: April 1, 2015
The Honeymoon is Over
When Annuals come around, I always hope that they tell nice little stories that occur somewhere just outside of continuity and only exist to make me smile. I won't lie, it's because I'm a bit lazy and those issues are so easy to review. Slap a few sentences together and away you go...review done. So, when I heard that this Annual was going to end the Superman's Joker story, I knew I'd have to get out my overalls, punch in and get to working. Thanks a lot, Greg Pak. I know what your thinking, "If Jim has to get off his ass and do a real review, I hope it was worth it." Let's see if it was, shall we?
Joking aside (for now), I have really enjoyed the Superman's Joker story. Sure, it felt a bit hokey at first, but Greg Pak quickly won me over with his Xa-Du versus the World's Finest story. Last issue ended with The Phantom King tucked safely back into his home away from home, vowing vengeance. It seemed like a empty threat, but this Annual proves otherwise.
The issue starts with a little weird science and no, that's not a shameless plug. Xa-Du reaches out with his mind powers and through the power of suggestion, sends a crap load of villains after Clark Kent. These aren't c-listers, either. We're talking Bane, Killer Croc and Cheshire. Heavy hitters for sure, but what can these guys do to Superman? He's too powerful for them, right? Nope.
In a weird twist, Clark heads back to Honeymoon Islands, the place where the whole Doomed story began. It felt a bit forced and out of nowhere, but then things got worse. Clark realizes that the Islands still have the Doomsday Mist (it's a crazy government experiment) and sets off his new Solar Flare power. It really came off like a new toy that Greg Pak wanted a chance to play with. Plus, after Superman #39 a few weeks ago, it just felt too soon.
Of course, the Solar Flare leaves Clark Kent powerless and that's the rub of the issue. All those top tier villains are out to get him and he is just plain old Clark Kent. That's where Batman comes in. The rest of the issue is all about the two buddies getting stuff done together. After everything else, I loved this aspect.
Greg Pak then gives us a series of scenes showing how much Clark Kent loves humanity, how awesome Batman is and how badass Bane is. Actually, Bane was my favorite character in the issue. After all is said and done and Superman and Batman save the day, Greg Pak pulls the rug out from under everyone and the book ends with a crazy cliffhanger and a promise that come June, everything will be different. I really want to see that.
This was an odd issue to read and review. Everything that happens in it is so telegraphed and obvious that I should have hated it. Really, it's almost laughable. Guess what, though? I liked it. Sure, it wasn't my favorite issue of all-time or even the last couple of weeks, but I enjoyed it. If you have been reading Batman/Superman, I think you'll like it too.
Annuals usually have multiple artists and this one is no exception. However, like a lot of the other Annuals, the art was strong throughout. I give credit to whoever hired the art team because it is a whose-who of some of my favorite DC artists.
Bits and Pieces:
This Annual is cliched, predictable and even unoriginal. You know what else it was? Enjoyable. I had a fun time reading it and even with it's faults, I recommend it to anyone who's been reading Batman/Superman or the Doomed story. It has the added bonus of a crazy cliffhanger that sets up the book for a crazy return in June.