Superman/Wonder Woman Annual #1
Story: Charles Soule
Pencils: Ed Benes, Tony Daniel, Pascal Alixe, Cliff Richards, Jack Herbert
Inks: Jaime Mendoza, Matt Banning, Vicente Cifuentes, Pascal Alixe, Cliff Richards
Colors: Jeromy Cox
Letters: Carlos M. Mangual, Dezi Sienty, Taylor Esposito
The first Superman/Wonder Woman Annual gives us Chapter 3 of the “Superdoom” story line from the Superman: Doomed cross-title event. Many times annuals are reserved for non-continuity stories so they’re not necessarily essential reading for readers of the main title, but are also not alienating to non-readers. Not so with this annual, which is an integral part of the multi-title Doomed arc and really can’t be read as a stand-alone issue.
There are five different pencillers for this issue, along with five different inkers (two of whom also provide pencils), which does make for a bit of an uneven book, artistically. None of them are bad, but the transitions between artists are noticeable, and even the consistent coloring by Jeromy Cox isn’t enough to help smooth out the shifts between artists.
Story wise, Charles Soule continues to illustrate why Superman/Wonder Woman is one of the stronger titles in the New 52 with cleverly written dialogue, good action, and some intense scenes that help show what’s at stake. Some of the best scenes are Clark’s inner dialogue with Doomsday, which Soule has handled so eloquently in previous issues of this arc. There’s also some really nice dialogue between Wonder Woman and Batman, who are communicating long distance while each is doing what he or she can to help Superman with his predicament. The interaction between these two characters, as well as with Superman, helps remind readers why they are referred to as DC’s “Trinity.”
Annuals are supposed to be “bigger” than the main title, both in terms of page count and what kind of material is included. In this case, Soule and the artistic team get to have some fun by including a whole array of various DC characters in their own panels, illustrating how they’re dealing with the true BBEG of this story (spoiler alert: it’s not Doomsday). The creative team includes scenes with Hawkman, Swamp Thing, the Teen Titans, the Red Lanterns, Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg from the Justice League, Simon Baz, Shazam, Flash’s Rogues Gallery, Green Arrow, and Steel, as well as Lana Lang and Cyborg Superman. Many of them are just individual one-off panels, but it’s nice to see other characters show up in an arc like this that has global (and potentially universal) spanning consequences, so that as readers we don’t have to ask, “Hey, how come the Justice League isn’t helping out?” My favorite of these little character inclusions was the Rogues, and I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if we are to see a stand alone Rogues title from DC in the near future.
Despite the number of different artists on this annual, Charles Soule and the rest of the creative team really pulled out all the stops to deliver a fantastic chapter in the Doomed event, creating a tough job for Greg Pak and team to follow in Chapter 4 of the “Superdoom” arc.