By: Too many to list—check out the review.

The Story: Oh, now we’re going to clean up the atmosphere?

The Review: I expressed some annoyance with how Superman/Wonder Woman Annual #1 shifted the details of a major plot point—Batman’s dispersal of the kryptonite in the atmosphere—to a different annual altogether. I’m no less irritated going into the annual in question, which is not a great attitude to come from. I just don’t like the idea of forcing readers to buy all kinds of extraneous issues to keep apace with a story.

Anyway, once you set those feelings aside, this annual is about as decent as its sibling, and in the grand scheme of things, far more necessary. S/WWA #1 was really about Diana stalling Clark long enough for Bruce to do his work (and Steel’s potential crush on Lana); you can live without seeing that. Anyway, Pak does the courtesy of repeating the essentials for you: the arrival of Brainaic’s first wave of attack, the other heroes’ difficulty in dealing with it, and Brainiac’s big momma-ship pulling beside Earth at the end. You get all this and the most important happenings in the arc as well.

There’s also an interesting mix of characters in this issue, which accounts for much of its excitement. Getting Bruce, Luthor, Harrow, and Dr. Shay Veritas* to act out one of those classic war room scenes gives the issue the true flavor of a military crisis—and it’s just fun to see the smartest characters of the DCU haggling over tactics.

You don’t need to read S/WWA #1 to know their success is guaranteed, but it does come at a cost: the freedom of the Phantom King, Xa-Du, adding yet another problem to a disaster that has already reached epic proportions. But it’s exactly this throw-everything-including-the-kitchen-sink approach that gives Doomed its appeal: the bombastic chaos of a pure superhero comic.

Because in the midst of Bruce and Co.’s gamble to make Superman a productive member of the storyline again, you also have Martian Manhunter doing his telepathic best to give Clark some control, and Ghost Soldier retrieving Baka for a surprisingly sappy pep talk (“Now believe in yourself,” says the man who once stabbed Clark in the chest). And that’s all before we get to Lois and Clark empathizing with each other’s mutual internal struggle, which is where the issue nearly falls apart.

Now, I may be entirely mistaken, but I thought at this early juncture of Clark’s DCnU history, Lois was still in the dark about his secret identity. And yet here she is, calling him by first name even while he’s in Superdoom guise and then doing it again when he’s back to his normal, studly self. So here’s my question: did Pak just let Lois discover Clark’s biggest secret or did he forget that she never knew it at all?** If it’s the former, then you’d think there’d be more drama to the revelation; if it’s the latter, then that’s a pretty huge mistake, one that’ll require some pains to spackle over.

Once again, we have another litany of artists at work on the issue, and they all do fine for themselves. It is beyond my powers to make accurate judgments about each contributor—I can just manage to identify Aaron Kuder’s recognizable art and that’s about it—but I can say that despite swinging from relatively crisp and clean visuals to occasionally ragged, chaotic ones, the annual is a perfectly acceptable offering of DC’s house art.

Conclusion: We finally put Doomsday (mostly) behind us to concentrate on better things, although Pak possibly makes a major misstep along the way.

Grade: C+

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: * A character I have no familiarity with, but the important thing is she’s a friend of Superman, which he can definitely use.

** Or am I just stupid and Lois has known all along? Because that’s a real possibility.