DC Annuals Review, Part 1 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Sunday, September 02, 2012
Its annuals time at DC Comics and Mania is presenting reviews of five new annuals released this week. Now call me old fashioned but it’s always been my opinion that annuals should either be self-contained stories separate from what’s going on in the regular ongoing series, or it should wrap-up a storyline from the ongoing series. But DC is taking a different angle as their annuals are kicking off story arcs that will continue in the regular series. In this first part of our two-part coverage we are taking a look at the annuals for Justice League International, Green Lantern, and Superman.
Justice League International Annual #1
Written By: Geoff Johns and Dan Didio
Art by: Jason Fabok
A hostage situation in Central America leads to team leader Booster Gold getting approval to expand the JLI by adding The Olympian and Blue Beetle. However not everyone is happy with the team expansion. Guy Garnder walks out, believing that Booster is using the team for his own personal political motivations. Gu’s departure are the least of the team’s worries, however. Brother Eye has regained control of OMAC and he intends to use him to destroy both the JLI and Batman. But there is someone or something that is controlling Brother Eye…a new programmer. That mystery and the rest of the story will be continued in the Justice League.
Justice League International has been canceled as of issue #12 and this annual is the last issue with the story carrying over to the regular Justice League title. OMAC had already been canceled as of issue #8 so the annual serves to wrap up those short-lived series. It’s clear the JLI wasn’t going to have a long shelf life with a team of mostly third-stringers like Godiva, August General in Iron, Firehawk, Vixen, etc…As with a lot of the New 52 titles it was a case of throw it at the wall and see what sticks. While the annual doesn’t have that big story feel, it makes a smooth transition into the new JLA series starting up in 2013 and I am curious as to who is pulling Brother Eye’s strings. Gardner’s departure seemed forced, however.
Am I the only one who thinks that it’s silly that the word balloons spell “I” with “eye” instead when Omac is talking? What’s the point since the words sound the same? That absurdity aside JLI Annual was a decent story and Fabok’s art is solid although not as fun as Kevin Maguire’s back in the original 1980s JLI series.
Superman Annual #1
Written by: Scott Lobdell and Fabian Nicieza
Art by: Pascal Alixe, Marco Rudy, Tom Raney, Elizabeth Torque, Mico Suyan
How many artists does it take to draw an annual? Apparently five…if you want it to look bad. Superman Annual #1 is one of the poorest drawn books I’ve seen in quite some time. So much so that it distracted me from the story. Helspont, original a WildC.A.T.’s villain returns to Earth and reveals to Superman that he had visited our world thousands of years earlier and cultivated a metagene in humans and now he has come back to collect on their millennia-old investment. He defeats Superman with ease not once, but twice in the book.
I have to believe that Lobdell and Nicieza wrote this story in a couple of hours over way too many adult beverages. The rambling, disjointed story is eclipsed only by the horrid artwork. The book jumps around erratically between flashbacks to Helspont’s past, and to his agent’s attacks on The Martian Manhunter, Starfire, and Hawkman, leaving Superman little more than a guest star in his own annual.
The gang of artists makes for a wildly uneven look to the book. The first time we see Superman he is leaning over a sink brushing his teeth. Apparently because he’s bulimic and just hurled up his breakfast as he looks positively emaciated, so much so you can see his ribs. Add to that he has what can only be described as a Jonas Brother’s style haircut. Yet later when he if battling the villain Biomass he is the bulky, muscular Superman we’re used to seeing. There are SEVEN splash pages in the book including the final page where Superman is just hovering in space and looking like he is 13 years old. This is Lobdell’s debut issue on Superman and it’s not off to a rousing start.
Green Lantern Annual #1
Written By: Geoff Johns
Art By: Ethan Van Sciver
In general I haven’t been crazy about the whole expansion of the power ring rainbow over the past several years…Red Lanterns, White Lanterns, Black Lanterns, Blue Lanterns, etc…but if there is one annual so far that has that “big story” feel it is Green Annual #1. The book kicks off the “Rise of the Third Army” storyline what will run in issues #13 – 16 of Green Lanter, GL:New Guardians, GL: Corps, and Red Lanterns beginning in October.
Having failed to eliminate chaos with their creation of the Manhunters and then with the Green Lantern Corps, the Guardians now intend to raise a new army to eliminate chaos by eliminating free will. They plan on opening the Chamber of Shadows and releasing the power of the First Lantern who is imprisoned within. But who or what is the first Green Lantern and why is he imprisoned? Well back in Green Lantern #67 from 2011 we learn that the Guardians betrayed the first Lantern. And in GL #62 we saw a couple of panels of the Guardians looking at a mysterious figure who is securely chained up, and talking about how he is far too dangerous to be released. To release the first Lantern, the Guardians will have to defeat the Hidden Ones…Meanwhile Hal Jordan’s ring is powerless and he finds himself buried alive at the hands of Black Hand, as does Sinestro. They’ll need a quick means to recharge Hal’s ring to have a chance to defeat Black Hand.
Johns’ story further expands the GL universe but does so with a great mystery hook. Will the First Lantern be a new character or something we’ve seen before? What role will Black Hand play in all this? While Rise of the Third Army will no doubt be a major storyline, thankfully it will take place (hopefully) only within the pages of the various GL titles and not carry over into the other DC titles. I love Johns’ scripting, especially with the Guardians. You can see how they are subtly going off the deep end in their obsession to end chaos in the universe, all the while fomenting it by their actions. Johns has always handled GL well and he’s reunited with artist Ethan Van Sciver with whom he did Green Lantern: Rebith. Van Sciver ranks with Neal Adams and Gil Kane as among the best Green Lantern artists of all time. His art is clean yet powerful and captures a true cosmic feel.
Mania Grade: C+
Comic: Justice League International Annual #1
Writer: Geoff Johns and Dan Didio
Artist: Jason Fabok
Mania Grade: B-
Comic: Superman Annual #1
Writer: Scott Lobdell and Fabian Nicieza
Artist: Pascal Alixe, Marco Rudy, Tom Raney, Elizabeth Torque, Mico Suyan
Mania Grade: D
Comic: Green Lantern Annual #1
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Ethan Van Sciver
Mania Grade: A-