Tuesday, 20 April 2010

The Adventures of Superman Annual #7

Year One: Truth And Justice

Writer: Karl Kesel
Penciller: Ron Wagner
Inker: Josef Rubinstein
Colorist: Linda Medley
Letterer: Albert de Guzman
Assistant (Editor): Chris Duffy
Top Cop (Editor): Mike Carlin
Cover: Walt Simonson
Cover Date: Annual 1995
Release Date: 11/07/1995

New Gods and Kalibak created by Jack Kirby
Much owed to the work of John Byrne

Superman takes down the hostage takes from The Man of Steel #2. As he leaves the bank to tell the SWAT team that the danger is over, Captain Reagan, the SWAT commander, berates him for putting himself in a position where he could have been killed. Superman listens patiently, and tells Reagan that he wants to be an aid to the police. Reagan is about to give him another mouthful when Superman hears a gunfight across town and flies away. Lois Lane runs up, but is told by Reagan that she just missed Superman.

Lois continues to miss Superman, whose exploits provide headlines for all of Metropolis' papers. A few days later, Reagan and Dan Turpin argue about Superman. Their argument is interrupted by Star City Police Officer Maggie Sawyer, in town on a holiday, and eager to learn more about Superman. Reagan introduces himself as a friend of her husband, James Sawyer, but is given the cold shoulder. They discuss Superman, with Reagan taking a reactionary view, which is brushed off by Sawyer and Turpin.

Superman introduces himself to Inspector Henderson at a murder scene, where a mob informant and his police guard were gunned down. Superman uses his powers to provide an initial forensic examination of the crime scene. Seeing blood that doesn't match the victims, he tells Henderson that the shooter is wounded, then takes off, following a lead. The shooter has stolen a taxi, which is careering down the street. Superman appears in the back seat, but the shooter refuses to give up, dropping a primed grenade and bailing from the cab. Superman rises unharmed from the flaming wreckage, and intimidates the shooter into giving up. As the shooter is led away, Toby Raines, a reporter from the Daily Star, tries to corner him for an interview. Despite mistaking her for Lois, Superman refuses an interview. Henderson confides in Superman; with Superman eradicating standard crime, the police are concerned about what will come next.

Ugly Manheim, Boss Moxie's son, makes a power play for control of Intergang. To provide a show of force, he opens a boom tube, and Kalibak appears at the crime conference. The crime lords open fire, but Kalibak shrugs off the bullets and starts attacking, stopping only when Manheim reminds him of their deal. With Kalibak as a force to take on Superman, Manheim takes control of the syndicate.

The next day, Clark Kent books an appointment with Perry White for two days time. As he hangs up the phone, the lobby of his hotel is invaded by Intergang, who attempt to rob the entire hotel. Clark uses his heat vision to trigger the fire alarms, but in the chaos, Maggie Sawyer is taken hostage. The police gather outside, but Apokoliptian weaponry keeps them pinned down. Turpin and Reagan attempt a rooftop assault, but this falls apart when Kalibak ambushes them, knocking Reagan out. Thinking that the noise is Superman arriving causes Intergang to gloat, affording Clark an opportunity to slip away and get into costume. Superman goes for Manheim, but the alien weapons force him back. Intergang threatens the hostages, but Maggie manages to get hold of one of the weapons, and a standoff develops. Manheim attacks Superman with a weapon that bathes him in the fires of Apokolips. Superman is forced to fly for help, getting a fire truck to put him out, allowing Intergang the opportunity to escape.

On the roof, Kalibak knocks Regan out, and attacks Turpin. Turpin is able to get his hands on one of the alien weapons, and unloads it into Kalibak. Enraged by the attack, Kalibak lunges forward. Turpin pulls the pin from a grenade and shoves it down Kalibak's throat. The explosion causes Kalibak to fall from the roof. Down below, Superman has recovered and manages to round up Intergang, disarming them in seconds. Manheim lunges at the prone form of Kalibak, opening a Boom Tube. In the aftermath, Turpin is taken to hospital, and Toby Raines offers to interview Maggie Sawyer about the the events. Lois Lane arrives, having once again missed Superman.

Two days later, as Superman patrols the city, wondering if Intergang's defeat has sent a message to the underworld, he notices a car in the water. He rescues the car and its driver, Lois Lane, and agrees to an interview. When Lois goes to file her exclusive, she finds that she has been scooped by the Daily Planet's newest reporter, Clark Kent.

Reagan and Henderson visit the recuperating Turpin. As they discuss Kent's article, Superman arrives to settle things with the police. Henderson officially welcomes him to Metropolis. Reagan is not happy and leaves. Superman gives Turpin his best wishes and also leaves. Henderson asks Turpin to head up a newly formed Special Crimes Unit. Turpin declines, but nominates Maggie Swayer for the position.

The first of the 1995 Year One annuals that we have come to is also the strongest. Kesel writes with a respect and reverence for The Man of Steel #2, whilst working backwards to incorporate familiar elements of the then-current Metropolis into Byrne's story. There are times when reading this issue is like experiencing the Byrne plot from a different camera angle, and the subtle shifts in emphasis work well. The opening re-telling of the Superman/bank robber encounter works well here, with Superman's powers coming across more forcefully, here setting the machine guns on fire rather than just heating them up. The pages I've used to illustrate this post are another great example of how the annual builds on what came before, here adding headlines to heighten Lois' frustration at not getting the Superman scoop.

This is very much a 'how the gang got together' kind of tale, bringing together the elements of the Metropolis SCU that would function as part of  Superman's supporting cast until the early 2000, namely Dan 'Terrible' Turpin, Maggie Sawyer, and Inspector Henderson. All throughout the issue, the characters drift towards their modern status, with the formation of the SCU looming at the issue's end, and the first meeting for future lovers Maggie Sawyer and Toby Raines.

Wagner provides pencils that invoke the stronger side of Jon Bogdanovich (check out the opening page of the annual). He creates a look for the comic that remains respectful to the 1980s fashions, of which Lois was a follower/victim, depending on your preference, whilst feeling very much modern (well, at least for 1995).

Perhaps the only bit of the issue that feels wrong is the Intergang/Apokolips plotline. Although it's nicely handled (just love Superman's confusion at his first encounter with a boom tube), having Dan Turpin go up against the son of Darkseid and come out on top just stretches credulity a little too much. Admittedly there isn't a rogue's gallery for Superman at this point in his history, but going from goons with guns to the son of the most evil entity in the universe is a tremendous step, even for Superman. That said, it certainly does fit in with Henderson's fears of escalation, a neat moment that is echoed by Commissioner Gordon at the end of Batman Begins.

The Geeky Bits:

Estimated Diamond Pre-Orders: 74,470
Diamond Sales Chart Position: 32
Best-Selling Comic Of The Month: Spawn #34

Next of World of Superman: It's Superman vs big nasty magic things for the first time ever!


  1. The New Gods were truly amazing! They're the essential link of whats missing in DC Comics today. Too bad DC has no plans to revive them with Lantern and Batman selling so well.

  2. There's a few running around current issues of JLA, but the only one I recognise is the dark version of Mr Miracle from the Brad Meltzer Red Tornado story. It's a shame that the concept isn't one that is open to most of the writers at DC, but it wouldn't surprise me if, when the Grant Morrison multiverse series finally makes it to the shelves, the New Gods show up there in some form.

  3. I wasn't adverse to the way Turpin was handled here and it was his story in a sense, Superman isn't a huge player as i remember, but it helps if you've read the old Jack Kirby New Gods series wherin Turpin is a player and meets Kalibak there-in. So this Annual slots in nicely.

    The Mannheim character has had a successful carreer, appearing as recently as Busieks Superman after Infinite Crisis, and while I never quite got why a mug from Apokalips ends up on Earth running crime rings he did make a substantial contribution to Supermans crimefighting carreer in the early 90s, Intergang filled a nice niche' when all's said and done.....