By Joshua Hale, Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Rob Williams, Todd Seavey, Joelle Jones, Wes Craig, Chris Weston, Chris Jones, Craig Yeung, Al Nickerson & various (Titan Comics)
Win’s Christmas Gift Recommendation: What Every Kid Deserves… 8/10
The first British Superman Annual was for 1951, a power packed mono-colour monolith that introduced a legion of kids to the decidedly different American style of comic strips. It opened the floodgates to a tidal wave of other DC characters ranging from Tommy Tomorrow to Detective Chimp.
By the end of the 1970s the Superman (and Batman) Christmas editions were a slim and slight shadow of their former bumper selves, even though during the mid-1980s a new crop of editors and designers found a way to invigorate and add value to the tired tomes.
The perennial favourites’ fortunes waxed and waned as different companies attempted to reinvent the tradition but sadly the “World’s Finest” superheroes disappeared completely from British stockings for most of the 21st century.
Thankfully the Cape & Cowl tradition was revived by Titan Books last year and the current crop are ready to liven up a few more Christmas mornings…
This book is the 37th annual for the Action Ace (not counting a series of five combination Superman and Batman tomes for 1975-1978) and the publishers have again wisely catered to the characters’ small and larger screen presence throughout.
The majority of tales collected here come from the continuity-neutral original webcomic Adventures of Superman (#2 and 4, August and October 2013) with material and features from Superman: Secret Files and Origins plus a cool bonus story starring the World’s Greatest Superheroes from the TV spin-off Justice League Adventures #5.
The “Never-ending Battles” begin with ‘Slow News Day’ by Joshua Hale & Joelle Jones wherein a friendly “scoop” contest between rival reporters Lois and Clark inexplicably draws the Man of Tomorrow into the most hectic and annoying day of his life, after which a fulsome fact feature by James Robinson, Sterling Gates & Pete Woods provides everything you need to know about the vast and fascinating city of ‘Metropolis’.
Next Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Wes Craig & Craig Yeung reveal ‘A Day in the Life’, offering a sneaky peek inside the disturbed mind of Lex Luthor as the bonkers billionaire daydreams ways to kill his greatest foe, before another tranche of fact-files (by Geoff Johns & Francis Manapul) delivers the lowdown on both Luthor and space scourge Brainiac.
‘Saviour’ (Rob Williams & Chris Weston from Adventures of Superman #4) contrasts the frantic infallible Man of Steel’s battle against a bevy of super freaks with the loving homeboy who likes to visit with his mum in Kansas, before ‘The Daily Planet’ staff come under the fact-file spotlight courtesy of Gates, Jamal Igle & Jon Sibal, and Johns & Manapul provide the same information overload for superdog ‘Krypto’.
Wrapping up the story portion of this thrilling tome is ‘The Star-Conqueror’ (Todd Seavey, Chris Jones & Al Nickerson from Justice League Adventures #5, May 2002) wherein Superman, Green Lantern John Stewart, Hawkgirl, Flash and Wonder Woman voyage to a distant planet to liberate the population from the mental domination of stellar horror Starro…
With a final fact file on ‘Supergirl’ by Gates & Igle and big, bold cover/pin-ups by John Delaney, Rob Leigh & Bruce Timm, this stunningly seductive and engaging oversized (292 x 227mm) hardback bonanza is a perfect treat for comicbook buffs that will delight and dazzle young and old alike.
Superman and all other characters featured in this book and the distinctive likenesses thereof are ™ DC Comics, Inc. Superman created by Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster. By special arrangement with the Jerry Siegel family. Used with permission all rights reserved. © 2002, 2009, 2013, 2014 DC Comics, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company. All rights reserved.