Advance Review – Superman: Action Comics Annual 2021 #1 – Return to the House of El

Comic Books DC This Week

Edit: This book will be released on July 13th, 2021. Beware of spoilers in this review and make sure to pick this book up next Tuesday!

Action Comics Annual #1 variant cover, via DC Comics.

Superman: Action Comics Annual 2021 #1 – Phillip Kennedy Johnson, Writer; Siya Oum, Scott Godlewski, Artists; Hi-Fi, Colorist

Ray – 9/10

Ray: One of the most interesting parts of the Future State event was a one-shot by Johnson as he explored the distant future of the House of El, where the legacy of Superman was countless heroes, many merged with other legacies of the DC Universe–and one ruthless villain named Pyrrhos, who wanted to burn down his own family’s heroic empire. That extended issue teased a fantastic universe that we barely scratched the surface of, so I was happy to see Johnson return to that world for this annual, which opens with a framing segment set in the nearer future–oddly, where a mysterious old man tells a group of children tales of the future that awaits them. It’s never quite clear what the significance of his role is, but he quickly sends us right back to that world–where a wedding is happening between one of the House of El and a heroic warrior from Warworld looking to become part of the clan–after a trial by combat.

Wedding day. Via DC Comics.

But the wedding is soon interrupted by the clan’s ruthless black sheep, and not even wedding officiant Kara Zor-El (who still looks like she’s in her twenties despite the more weathered Superman we saw previously) can stop him from plunging the entire family into the Phantom Zone. The issue then becomes a pitched battle to survive, as we get a better picture of what makes this mysterious realm so dangerous than we have in a long time. I think Johnson has some big plans for this realm, because he seems to be treating it like a villain in its own right. The arrival of an old villain of Superman’s, trapped there for ages, is a big surprise and hints that even the most vicious villain can eventually have a redemption arc. The art by Oum and Godlewski, especially the scenes in the Phantom Zone, is dramatic and haunting, and this remains one of the most unique Superman stories in a while.

To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.

GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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