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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Action Comics Annual #12

Action Comics Annual #12

Scheduled to arrive in stores: June 17, 2009

Cover date: August 2009

Writer: Greg Rucka
Penciller: Pere Perez
Inker: Pere Perez
Cover: Renato Guedes

Reviewed by: Adam Dechanel

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Krypton's armed forces elite, Black Zero is on route to an emergency. An alien invasion threatening the entire planet. Black Zero, led by Ursa heads to defend the people. Young parents Tes and Ak Var are worried as their daughter is somewhere in the epicenter of the attack.

People are being herded by Brainiac constructs into the centre of shield generators when the heroes arrive, but the constructs make short work of them, killing or immobilizing them. Without her General, Ursa crumples under the pressure and begs for mercy while Black Zero falls apart around her. The Ak Vars spot their daughter but are critically wounded and beg Ursa to save their daughter - instead Ursa cries, whimpers and runs as Kandor is ripped from Krypton's surface and swept away in a bottle prison.

The guilds rebuild and they begin to live life again inside their bottle home, hoping one day to overthrow their captor Brainiac, or to re-implant their city on Krypton. Hopes are soon dashed when Argo City is crushed into their bottle too along with news that Krypton is dead. Kindred spirits in loss, Thara Ak Var takes solace in the arms of grieving parents Alura and Zor-El.


Chris sacrifices himself to seal the Phantom Zone tear and loses his family in the process. His reward? A genetic reaction to something, Chris' body grows by six years while his mind stays the same. Chris wandered the vast wastelands until he saw his former home... a tangible prison in the Zone... Fort Roz. Though Mon-El searched here Chris had somehow eluded him. But not his villainous birth parents or the kindly man-child Non. Sensing they share a bond not unlike Sloth and Chunk from Goonies, Non cares for the sick and tired child.


Since Kandor was stolen Thara had dreamt of flames, but as time went on and years flew by the flames in the dream took shape of a being watching her. Unsteady Thara sought answers from Zor El the President of Kandor but the answer was far from the scientific answer she wanted - instead he advised her to turn to religion.

The priests in the makeshift church recognized her immediately calling out her family name and surrounding her with colored sunstones. And when they grew too bright the dreams she had been having grew into a vision - one of the Legendary dragon phoenix - Flamebird!

Though through family respect of the El's and commitments to the Kryptonian military guild, Thara decided to devote more time to religion and became a disciple herself much to the El's disappointment. Sharing the loss felt by Flamebird perhaps merging on a psychic level, Thara began to descend into misery over the loss of Krypton, their families and their soulmate - Nightwing. A living hell of misery.


Watching Zod closely while under protection from his Uncle Non he observed Zod swear to learn from his mistakes and never let Kal-El defeat him if he got another chance to fight. Zod however was beaten before - when thousands of Kryptonians were stolen by Brainiac.

Being small, Chris is able to sneak into places in and around Roz, where he finds Zod's enemy shrine. A detailed study room of Superman and Brainiac. Chris doesn't recognize much of the machinery but seeing his beloved parents Lois & Clark he tries to contact them through Brainiac's technology. At the instant he does somehow a link between the Zone and Kandor is established, Thara and Chris have somehow become two halves.

For his destruction of the tech and sneaking around Roz, Zod and Ursa chain their boy up and beat and abuse him. Non watches silently unable to bring himself to rise against Zod.


The priests refuse to help Thara, believing only that she is the avatar of Flamebird and that nothing else is of consequence. Zor-El and Alura of course also disbelieve Thara and advise her to forget weird visions and voices calling to her - she is leader of the military and she should return to service. Thara reluctantly agrees but uses her security clearance to steal a Phantom Zone projector to reach her Nightwing.

Nightwing and Flamebird rely on their faith to contact one another and Thara uses this to rescue Chris, not before she sees her parent's executioner, Ursa! During a fight Ursa spots that Thara brought a projector with her - and a way out for the villains!

Thara unleashes a Sunstone shield and cuts down her soul mate. Non however is also inside the shield and attacks Thara. Gleefully Zod orders Non to grab the projector and give it to them. Chris however finally wins over the hulking man's loyalty and begs for him to help. He does - Non switches on the projector and allows them to escape to Kandor but to ensure their escape Non destroys the projector - even though it means facing Zod's wrath.

Though Flamebird and Nightwing were torn apart when their souls were dragon and phoenix, now in another life their future is still to burgeon.

To Be Continued in New Krypton Triangle One...

2Story - 2: What did this offer? Nothing.

We already knew this from dialog and flashbacks...

We see that Ursa isn't really a hardened Ellen Ripley clone but a wimp under pressure - completely contrary to the chapters of Last Son and even Rucka's own chapters...

We see Goonies ripped off here too, okay, perhaps another homage to Donner but okay...

We're led to believe that Mon-El couldn't find him in Zod's stronghold and the only solid place in the Zone... ok...

Again we're fobbed off with explanations of the age spurts Chris suffers - literally - I mean see the dialog! Again we're seeing a rehash of the Brainiac arc.

The whole spiritual angle of reincarnation was the only thing thrown in that actually furthered the story.

There are LOTS of somehow, maybe, possibly, perhaps and whatever's littered in here but no real answers and an origin story that's pretty much already been told. Why interrupt the story arc with a jerk back to the beginning only for it to jump forward again next issue... I'd be very angry if I wasn't bewildered... this is great perhaps for someone that is just starting to read the books but utterly wasteful for those of us that have been following the book since Last Son.

4Art - 4: Very nice art this issue, the Brainiac constructs looked a little out of character but over all Pere has delivered a fun solid and beautifully illustrated issue. I just wish it wasn't a flashback, as part of the problem for me is I've seen these scenes already so the originals make the rehashes seem like the copying of an exam paper. I think Pere deserved better especially for handling the art for an entire annual.

3Cover Art - 3: Meh, the left side starts off awesome, very reminiscent of the epic movie posters of old or the Lucasfilm offerings that made Drew Struzan an art icon and Alex Ross a follower. Then suddenly jerking you out of the stunning left you have a so so image of the two Power Rangers... how many covers can you have where they look mysterious and oooh slightly scary (but not)? The two line art based figures just seem out of place, perhaps if they too were handled like the Els or the Phantom Zoners this would have seemed more spectacular...

Mild Mannered Reviews


Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.

January 2009

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