The Man of Steel, still possessed by Doomsday, must protect the Earth from not only Brianiac, but himself.
ACTION COMICS ANNUAL #3
Writer: Greg Pak
Artists: Ken Lashley, Aaron Kuder, Jack Herbert, Cliff Richards, Julius Gopez, Will Conrad and Pascal Alixe
Inkers: Ken Lashley, Aaron Kuder, Vicente Cifuente, Cliff Richards, Will Conrad and Pascal Alixe
Colourist: Ulises Arreola
Letterer: Steve Wands
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $4.99
DOOMED TO SUCCEED
I’ve stated it before and I will state it again: annual exist to celebrate everything that is exceptional about a given superhero. Action Comics Annual #3 gets a little bit bogged down by the fact that it is a tie in to the Superman Doomed event currently sweeping through the DCU, but even that cannot put a damper on the outstanding tale of the Man of Steel Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder continually present month after month.
Lois Lane feature heavily in Action Comics Annual #3 she herself possessed by Brainiac. The parallel between her state with Brianiac and Clark’s possession by Doomsday gives readers a female perspective for readers to latch onto and a shared experience that she and Clark will share – and something that will allow her to stand apart from Diana as someone special in Superman’s life. Greg Pak opens the issue by showing us a physical representation of the mental prison Lois is trapped in, while at the same time assuring us that she will never give up and dropping the seed of assurance of the heroes’ success before issue’s end.
Pak brings many, many teammates and enemies of Superman together in order to stave off Brainiac’s forces (and because this is an annual, where you do such things), and gives readers a really cool scene with the Red Hood and the Outlaws! Batman and Lex Luthor are forced to work together through their animosity and Wonder Woman leads the ground troops. We peek in at these storylines throughout Action Comics Annual #3 in order to keep us up to date on just where exactly everyone is.
The moment of greatness in Action Comics Annual #3 happens at the hands of Ghost Soldier. He has brought someone for Superman, someone to bring out the goodness and strength in him and give him the ability to push off Doomsday once and for all. Ghost Soldier shows up with Baka. Quick reminder: Baka is the little blue prince of Subterranea introduced several issues back in Action Comics whose existence and duty served to teach Clark a lesson about letting go. He also happens to be one of my favourite characters to be introduced into the entire New 52 universe.
With Baka as the representation for every friend and enemy now metaphorically standing with Superman he is able to gather his powers and launch the kind of attack on Doomsday and Brainiac that only the Man of Steel can. Pak has summarized Clark Kent and Superman as the hero who works best with others standing beside him, when protecting the innocent and when learning something outstanding about himself.
Despite the somewhat silly event Action Comics Annual #3 ties into and with the help of a little, blue prince, this issue serves to utterly celebrate what makes Superman a compelling character and what resonates about his character with any and all readers.
NEAR FLAWLESS TEAMWORK
There are so many artists working in so many capacities on Action Comics Annual #3 – Ken Lashley, Aaron Kuder, Jack Herbert, Cliff Richards, Julius Gopez, Will Conrad and Pascal Alixe – but the issue still feels like it was drawn by a single artist.
Yes, if you re-read and take close looks the discrepancies between styles begin to make themselves known, but nobody working here is lazy and each artist rises to the standard Aaron Kuder presents in the pages of Action Comics monthly.
The spirit of Superman and the high level of action in the story being told leaps off the page from panel to panel, often offset with moments of softness, such as Baka’s first appearance or the quiet gravitas of Lois’ transformation toward the end of the issue. These highs and lows are beautiful in their stark contrast and speak to the level of skill and professionalism across the pages of Action Comics Annual #3.
A GREAT ANNUAL
Fans of Superman and Pak and Kuder’s run of Action Comics will enjoy this annual as much as the regular monthly issue. The $4.99 price point is a little steep, but the events of this annual carry right over into Action Comics #34, which seals it as a necessary purchase. Thankfully, there are enough amazing moments to make it worth it.