By Greg Pak, Gene Yang, Aaron Kuder, Dan Jurgens, Ben Oliver, Lee Loughridge, Trish Mulvihill, andTomeu Morey
Annuals have been a part of comic culture for a very long time. Love them or hate them, they are here to stay. Through the years, we’ve all read some very good ones and have also come across some that we wish we had never purchased. This week brings us Superman Annual #3; there is something different about this annual. Not only does it feature a slew of different writers and artists, but this annual connects several different series.
There were many writers on this issue including Greg Pak, Gene Yang (the series regular writer), and Aaron Kuder. The writing here is actually very good. As stated above, this annual connects to many of the Superman books, including Action Comics and Superman/Wonder Woman. The continuity is one thing that makes this a little bit different from some of the stand-alone annuals in the past. This annual is split into two different stories, one involving Superman dealing with the loss of his powers and another dealing with how Vandal Savage came to be the all-powerful and immortal man he is today. The Vandal Savage portion was very well done; it showed how power corrupted him as he killed friend and foe alike. The portion of the issue dealing with Clark was actually a bit depressing. There is nothing worse than being told to watch the base while the heavy hitters in the JLA take on the real threat. There is also a touching scene between Clark and Diana that should remind us how close they are. This annual should really hit a lot of chords with fans of Superman. The group of writers came through with action and emotion in a combined tale.
The pencils are handled by several artists, with Dan Jurgen and Ben Oliver handling most of the pages. The Vandal Savage pages are drawn by Dan Jurgens; this is where the best art happens. His pencils are clean and crisp. The colors in this section really shine too, The colorists use a brighter color palette to go with Jurgens’ style. The different style of clothes and the look of Vandal over the years as he evolves is crucial to this part of the book as well. The pencils and colors do a great job of showing him looking similar, but never the same. The part of the issue that focuses on Clark is penciled by Ben Oliver. This is where things get a bit dicey. Oliver’s lines are very scratchy and sketchy, which doesn’t exactly mesh with the Vandal Savage pages. This could be the point of using two completely different artists, but some of these Clark pages are rough. Oliver does make good use of hatching and cross-hatching in some panels, like when Clark visits John Henry. In other panels, people are disproportioned and oddly shaped. An example of this would be when Clark visits the Justice League. Many of the members have odd faces and look a bit rough around the edges.
Superman Annual #3 is a very good read for anyone who loves Superman. A depressed Clark is an interesting Clark, and these writers know that. The art has its pros and cons, which happens when a book splits artists. That is not a deal breaker though and this is one of the better annuals to come out in a while. DC got it right this year.