Written by Peter J. Tomasi & Patrick Gleason
Art by Jorge Jimenez, Alejandro Sanchez, & Saida Temofonte
Published by DC Comics
Release Date: November 30, 2016

The past is a foundation for the future.

Something is awry on the farm, and uncovering the mystery looks like a job for Superman. In his search, he comes across Dr. Alec Holland, more famously known as Swamp Thing, who accuses him of hurting the planet. A few go rounds lead to a rather organic heart to heart between the Man of Steel and the Defender of the Green, allowing Clark to make peace with his past and emerge anew.

Here we are at our first Annual for Superman, one of Rebirth’s flagship titles. This issue adds to the mystery of our otherworldly Clark, bringing to light his effect on the planet. There are still many questions that need an answer, and while Superman Annual #1 doesn’t resolve each of them, it brings us closer in a way that is intriguing and vital to Superman’s nature in the current status quo.

Perhaps my favorite part of Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason writing this story is that there is no true adversarial element. Holland is dedicated to protecting the Green and he is unafraid to take large measures in doing so. However, this does not make him a villain or even unnecessarily ruthless. Instead, his sense of duty plays off of Clark’s own and helps the story to arrive at a conclusion that is satisfying and emotional.

The other side of this narrative coin, Tomasi and Gleason cast Clark as someone who genuinely cares, but who is also willing to throw punches in his own fight. Through his struggle with Holland emerges his kindness and dedication to the welfare of all, even green giants who want to “cleanse” him. The final moments of the issue are the best, as Holland challenges Clark to be his own Man of Tomorrow, rather than holding onto his old Earth or trying to fit the role of this world’s previous Superman. The monologue is absolutely perfect, and they are words that should be imparted onto everyone.

With plants and the earth as the major theme for this issue, it makes every bit of sense that Jorge Jimenez and Alejandro Sanchez illustrated Superman Annual #1 with earthen colors and plantlike motifs. Holland’s vines creep not only across panels, but into the gutters within truly spectacular pages. Jimenez is imaginative with figures and panels, adding to the already amazing visual theme that transitions from dry, arid settings to the increased presences of foliage and life.

Sanchez’s addition to the art uses a small range of warm hues, separated by the dark moments in the middle of the issue, to convey distinct emotions. The muted oranges and browns in the beginning of the issue evoke desolation, mirrored by Clark’s investigation of the drought, while those at the end emit a warmth between family and friends. I like that these colors take on different meanings based on their context, and I feel they demonstrate Sanchez’s skill and technique.

Superman Annual has a nice one-shot feel that pushes the narrative of our new Superman to a new place while also serving as a capstone to the current Superman run. This is where you get to see those tiny moments in previous issues become important. Light on the charm, heavy on the punches, and deep in the feels, I recommend this issue because of its impact as an insular story, but also in the context of a truly remarkable run for Superman thus far.

The Verdict: 10/10



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