Superman has faced off against Swamp Thing before, but this time it gets personal. Superman’s connection to our sun may be affecting the Green and our Earth. That’s personal to Swamp Thing, but is it good?
Superman Annual #1 (DC Comics)
So what’s it about? The full summary reads:
“EARTH TO EARTH, ASHES TO ASHES”! Mr. Oz told Superman he was not what he thought. Now, Swamp Thing comes hunting for the Man of Steel to discover what strange connection this new Superman has to the planet. But their contact is something neither is prepared for, leading to Kal-El battling the Earth elemental who wants to bury him.
Why does this book matter?
The story is by two writers, Patrick Gleason, Peter J. Tomasi, who know their way around Superman. Artist Jorge Jimenez draws this one with it’s detailed and atmospheric inks. Add in Swamp Thing and a connection between the Green and Superman and you have a unique tale indeed.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Who could be the culprit!?
The official summary somewhat reveals what the writing team is after with this annual and it has to do with Superman not being of this world. He’s the original and the only remaining Superman of the DCU and this connects to the Earth drying up. This is the emotional core of the story that leads to its climax, which makes it compelling for anyone interested in the Mr. Oz storyline. Before we get there though there’s lots of fighting in store!
Much of this issue is Swamp Thing and Superman fighting and there’s a good balance of one beating the other and vice versa. Jimenez gets to give each hero a moment to shine and use their powers in interesting ways. It’s also fun to see how Jimenez can make Swamp Thing grotesque, impossibly huge, and other fun elements of the character. Bottom line, the art is solid and very well rendered, making it easy to feel every punch. Later in the issue there’s a trippy sequence that conveys Superman’s connection to the sun well, as well as reveal a montage of Superman’s past that’s a nice reminder he’s more complex than ever. There’s also a fantastically designed Superman/Swamp Thing amalgam you won’t want to miss.
Alejandro Sanchez also does a spectacular job with the colors. There’s a nice use of color to convey passage of time, with the opening during the day and the end near sunset with very nice crisp oranges to convey the time change. Swamp Thing looks great of course too, and Superman’s colors are spot on.
It can’t be perfect can it?
It’s not very clear how the resolution actually works. Maybe it’s because it’s a difficult thing to visualize, but on some level this issue gives a shrug of, “And now it’s better let’s move on.” Swamp Thing seems to be using a power we’ve never seen too and ultimately this unclear development makes the conclusion unsatisfying. There’s also the tried and true plot device of superheroes fighting because they can’t use their words. It’s not as blatant or annoying as it usually is, but it’s a convention here to allow them to punch each other for a few more pages.
What a badass full page spread!
Is It Good?
This is a fun, action packed issue, pitting the uncommon duo of Superman and Swamp Thing together. It connects relatively well with the bigger story of alternate dimension characters, though the resolution isn’t explained well enough to understand what exactly happened.