Review: Action Comics 2021 Annual #1
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Phillip Kennedy Johnson
Art: Siya Oum and Scott Godlewski
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Reviewed by: Matthew B. Lloyd
Discover the future history of the House of El and how it becomes intertwined with the Phaelosians, the refugees from Krypton’s past.
The basic premise of Action Comics 2021 Annual is an interesting concept at its core- the descendants of Superman! Looking into the future of the House of El can lead in many different directions. Action Comics 2021 Annual presents a number of future members of the House of El. The issue, while telling a story focuses on the characters. And while it’s not always possible to do a lot with many characters in a single issue, the basic aspects could be the basis of any number of comic book series. It’s an extra bonus that the story has a direct link to what’s going on in Action Comics and the Phaelosians the refugees from Krypton.
While we don’t get to see what’s happened with Kal-El (Clark Kent) Superman, he does get a mention and Supergirl (now Superwoman) is depicted as the Head of the House of El. Additionally, the visual appearance of the characters are quite interesting. One has armor that is reminiscent of Superboy-Prime. Another is a Blue Lantern, The crest of the House of El has been said to mean “hope” in some iterations and the Blue Lantern’s power comes from hope. There is also a Coluan, Brainiac 4 in the group which is obviously a reference to Kara Zor-El’s pre-Crisis love affair with Brainiac 5 in the Legion of Super-Heroes. This is a particularly nice touch for longtime fans.
One of the characters is described as Kal-El’s fallen son. This indicates that not only will Jon have a brother, but he will turn out badly. He’s the villain of the piece and it comes across oddly that he wouldn’t follow in his father’s footsteps. There’s a massive story here obviously and it doesn’t work completely without more context, it feels forced because of this.
Seemingly nailing down a future of the El’s is a double edged sword. It can be cool like Superman #400 where we saw glimpses of the distant future, but also seems to limit future stories. That seems to be the case with Action Comics 2021 Annual. Is this canon? Because it ties into the current storyline, it doesn’t feel like a “what if?” It gives the sense of validity instead of possibility because it connects directly with Phaelosians storyline.
Action Comics 2021 Annual is quite good and has moments of greatness. The awkwardness of the idea of the a son of Superman turning bad is strange to say the least and doesn’t quite fit, but the other descendants of the Man of Steel present a number of exciting and creative possibilities. It will be interesting to see how closely this Annual dovetails with the current storyline in Action Comics.