Writer(s): Peter J. Tomasi, Patrick Gleason
Artwork: Jorge Jimenez, Aleandro Sanchez (colours)
Release Date: 30th November 2016
[WARNING – Review Contains Minor Spoilers]
Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason’s Superman series has been one of the most consistently enjoyable titles on DC’s post-Rebirth slate, providing a fresh look at the Man of Steel and forcing him into some difficult decisions which have really helped to cement the character. For this annual, the fan-favourite writing duo deliver more of the same, this time introducing Swamp Thing into the mix as the Avatar of the Green arrives with a stark warning for Superman, informing him that he may, quite possibly, pose a threat to the balance of the entire natural world.
The story manages to be both epic in scale and deeply personal, something that has become a bit of a hallmark for Tomasi and Gleason, and while the annual isn’t necessarily essential in terms of continuing the pre-existing storylines, it does contain some fantastic character-based moments that will no doubt resonate with the Man of Steel later down the line.
As enjoyable as the story undoubtedly is though, the main selling point of this issue for me is the absolutely stunning artwork of Jorge Jimenez. His take on Swamp Thing is suitably hulking and monstrous, and Tomasi and Gleason give him ample opportunity along the way to showcase Swampy’s impressive powers – not to mention his own unquestioned artistic abilities. Swamp Thing is a character that a lot of artists seem to really enjoy having fun with, and Jimenez pushes that to the limit here with some truly monumental moments along the way, including a giant Swamp Thing actually ingesting the Man of Steel and a Superman/Swampy amalgam which is a thing of absolute beauty. Credit must also be given to Aleandro Sanchez, whose colours give the annual a vibrant, dramatic feel – particularly during the sequences where Swamp Thing goes a little bit ‘Kryptonian’. You’ll see.
DC’s annuals can sometimes be a bit of a mixed bag, usually bringing in new creative teams to provide stand-alone stories that – while undoubtedly welcome for the existing creators in terms of giving them a little breathing room – can sometimes feel a little jarring and, ultimately, more than a little unnecessary. Thankfully, that isn’t the case here, and while it’s worth stressing again that the annual isn’t essential reading from a continuity point of view, this powerful one-and-done tale is still a highly recommended purchase for fans of Superman, Swamp Thing or just flat-out fantastic comic book artwork.
Overall then, the story is solid, and does an impressive job of advancing the post-Rebirth Superman’s character, but that artwork? Man. The artwork is something else entirely, and instantly pushes this annual from a “meh, maybe” to a “buy it right now!”, particularly for fans of Swamp Thing, of which I am most definitely one.
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