The Batman/Superman Annual plays out as sort of an extended epilogue for the previous arc. I enjoyed the last few issues involving Superman’s nemesis, Xa-Du the Phantom King, so I was curious to see how things would continue after Batman/Superman #20′s conclusion. I mentioned in the last review that I felt a little cheapened by the ending of their last conflict, but it was still a reasonable solution for the menacing Phantom King. However, from his imprisonment in the Phantom Zone, Xa-Du was still able to set a plan in motion; a plan to kill Clark Kent *dramatic music plays*

I’ll comment on the art first seeing how there were several artists involved on the annual. Surprisingly, unless you have a very keen eye and know each individuals style verbatim, it’s really hard to tell when there was an artist change, which I really love. I’m not sure how much each person was involved on the pencils or the amount of pages, but it’s great to see such consistency throughout the book. Actually, it was practically a small army that was tasked with the panels from inks and colors to the lettering, so bravo to the creative team.

Clark Kent is investigating an area in the Bahamas that’s been affected by recent conflict, much to the disliking of Batman who vehemently insists that this is a job for Superman. After seeing a great big cloud that resembles Doomsday Mist (from the recent Superdoom event), Kent agrees and quickly puts on his Kryptonian armor. We get a taste of Superman’s new ability–his solar flare power. It’s a spectacular sight to see and it was cool hearing how Superman described the move as “every cell in your body exploding like a miniature supernova”. Again, this was to the disliking of Batman who was still minutes away because the move leaves Superman completely powerless for an entire twenty-four hours! At least he gogets to go back to his original plan of being Clark Kent.

Batman/Clark Kent Annual review

That title’s a bit more fitting wouldn’t you agree? Anyway, Clark’s inner dialogue offers some great insight into the psyche of the Man of Steel. I’m so use to seeing the tough-as-nails powerhouse Kryptonian, that it’s easy for me to forget about mild manner Clark Kent (or the fact that he has a job. Could’ve sworn Jimmy Olsen was the go to guy at the Planet). Clark actually revels in the fact that he’s merely flesh and blood for the time being. This is a guy who is impervious to mostly everything, so it’s sort of thrilling that he’s somewhat defenseless in the tropics of the Bahamas. I assume that this is his idea of a vacation.

Kent quickly comes across a group of survivors who are a bit weary to see a stranger approaching them. Those worries soon turn into terror when they are attacked by a Man-Bat. Luckily for everyone involved, Batman swoops in to save the day. Xa-Du’s plan comes to full realization. He’s influenced an elite squad of killers to come eradicate Mr. Kent. Bane, Killer Croc, Cheshire, and her troop of Man-Bats make up the Phantom King’s extermination squad. Batman takes the time to explain the ferocity of his rogues gallery members as he formulates a plan. Batman/Superman often delivers quick humor amongst the intense moments. This month’s funny moments come in the dialogue between Batman and civilian Superman. I love the Batman, but having him as a best friend seems like it would a pain in the butt sometimes. He’s so smug and sarcastic when he talks to Clark. It’s quite funny though.

Batman gets separated from the team for a short while, leaving the rest of the group to fend for themselves. I feel like this gets used often, but knowing Batman’s demeanor and the actions he takes in battle, I don’t ever mind taking the Caped Crusader out of the fray for a bit so he can make some sort of triumphant return. Before that can occur though, one of the survivors, hoping to protect himself and those close to him, surrenders to Bane in exchange for information on how to capture Kent. This was a cold and chilling scene.

Spoiler
Bane impales the man right through the chest with his large knife. Part of me felt like that’s what the guy gets, but even Bane didn’t even have an explanation for his actions. Then he proceeded to slit the victim’s throat. I would say that Bane’s Venom is one helluva drug, but that act of horrific violence can be chalked up to Xa-Du’s influence.

Bane decides to take matters into his own hands when he finally sets his eyes on the prize. As he pursues Kent, the chase is interrupted by the Dark Knight and his scaly steed, Killer Croc! You heard right. Batman came riding in on the back of [a blinded] Killer Croc. Compared to Bane’s strength and intellect, Croc’s just a big ol’ strong dummy. Studies show living in the sewers of Gotham and resorting to a life of crime does not help in most cases.

Recommended if: 

  • You want to see how Clark Kent fares in the crime fighting world
  • You want to see how smug and sarcastic Batman can be
  • You want to see if Batman can ride the rodeo for the full 8sec.

Overall: 

The annual was visually appealing and the story was a fun simple concept. A powered down Superman and a squad of certified killers sent to kill Clark Kent. I figured it was an easygoing story until the very end. If you enjoyed the last arc and have a few bucks to spare, go ahead and pick this issue up.

Spoiler
Clark catches a knife to the side, and Batman’s not around to offer any sort of aid? I’m intrigued to say the least

SCORE: 8.5/10