Action Annual 10 – so many wonderful treats, it’s like a box of Kryptonian candy

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From cover to cover, Action Annual 10 was a sheer delight to read.  In its 48 pages, it brings back many elements from the classic Superman world from the late 50s and early 60s, blends in some of the best parts of the post-Crisis Superman, and mixes in the original movie.  This period, between Infinite Crisis and Flashpoint, is my favourite “modern” Superman era.

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Geoff Johns, Richard Donner and Arthur Adams open the issue as Lex Luthor goes hunting for kryptonite.  He muses over the various ways it is possible to kill Superman.

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This allows for a number of Superman villains to be shown.  Mxyzptlk, Silver Banshee, Solomon Grundy and Black Adam could kill Superman with magic.

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Bizarro, Mongul, Darkseid, Kailbak and, of course, Doomsday, have the potential to kill him with brute force.

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While the Kryptonite Man, Metallo, and, in a very rare appearance, Titano are shown with Luthor’s murder weapon of choice.  Kryptonite.

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Johns and Donner are joined by Eric Wright for the second story in the issue, a re-telling of the origin of Mon-El, Superboy’s “big brother.”  This is an extremely faithful rendition of the original, editing out only Superboy’s bizarre assumptions about Mon-El, and resulting paranoia when these prove not to be true.

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Instead we get a really touching tale about how these two alien boys bond, after Lar Gand crashes on Earth, with no memory of who he is.  He eventually remembers that he is from Daxam, and though his powers are virtually identical to Superboy, his weakness is very different.  Lead.

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Dying, due to his exposure to the lead in our environment, Mon-El allows Clark to send him into the Phantom Zone, until the day a cure can be found.  Or the writers want to use him.  Whichever comes first.

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Joe Kubert joins Johns and Donner for a two-pager, in which Thanagarian war ships discover Bizarro World, restored to continuity.  The Bizarros come out to greet the Thanagarians.  Even such hardened warriors as those cannot withstand a “friendly” Bizarro.

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By this point the fanboy in me is squealing with delight, and comes across the two page spread of the Fortress of Solitude, a perfect example of the blending of the classic, the new, and the movie.

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Rags Morales and Mark Farmer join Johns and Donner for a story about Zod, Ursa and Non, and what lead up to their revolt.  Commanded to arrest Jor-El by the Council, Zod is stunned to discover that the leaders of Krypton have suppressed Jor-El’s evidence of the planet’s coming destruction.

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Non, a great scientific mind, could back up Jor-El, so the Council has him lobotomized. Zod and Ursa’s revolt becomes one the reader can sympathize with, although their methods are extreme.

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Having Jor-El be the one to send them into the Phantom Zone becomes bitterly ironic, and lays the groundwork for the story from the previous few issues of Action.

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Superman’s Top 10 Most Wanted works in a few more villains.  The Parasite and the Toyman rate a mention here, along with the others, who are featured other places in the issue as well.

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Johns and Donner round out the issue with Gary Frank and Jonathan Sibal, as Luthor thinks about the various forms of kryptonite.  The classic red kryptonite, with its unpredictable effects, and blue kryptonite, with its ability to hurt Bizarros, are brought back.  Gold kryptonite gets a nice modification.  It removes a Kryptonians powers, but briefly, rather than permanently.  While this might seem like it diminishes this variation, in fact it makes it much more playable for the writers.

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As the issue ends, Luthor upgrades a reluctant Metallo, powering him with all four of the kryptonite variations.

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