By Andy Frisk
June 28, 2009 - 00:32
Action Comics Annual #12 fills Superman fans in on the many ideas, plot threads, characters and Kryptonian myths and mysticism that have only been hinted at thus far in the pages of the Superman family books, and especially in Action Comics, currently starring Nightwing and Flamebird. The two characters have been revealed to be Chris Kent/Lor Zod and Thara Ak-Var. Chris is The Phantom Zone-reared child of Ursa and Zod, and Thara is Kandor’s former Chief of Security, but both are mystically tied to a seemingly recurring mythical pair of heroes from Krypton. Whether the two are reincarnations or the fabled heroes, or just two Kryptonian souls destined to play out the roles of a recurring myth is unclear, but the answers faithful Superman Family book readers get, and the back stories revealed, including Ursa’s moment of cowardice in the face of Brainiac’s first assault on Kandor; Thara’s story, and her involvement in the attack; her time in Kandor; Chris’ back story; why he has aged so rapidly; and a mysterious, but incredibly interesting, glimpse into Kryptonian religion and mysticism, along with an explanation of the idea behind the myth of Nighwing and Flamebird, make this annual a must read for Superman fans, and followers of the current World of New Krypton arc.
There’s much more than the revelations listed above to Action Comics Annual #12 though. We also get some back story on Non, Zod’s machinations once he was back in The Phantom Zone, after being defeated by Superman at the end of his bid to take over Earth, and some great art by Perez. He captures and recreates, with great skill, everything that Superman’s current writers are employing, such as, John Byrne’s Kryptonian style of dress, which is now standard dress for the Science Guild, the sunstone Kryptonian technology from Richard Donner’s Superman films, and new ideas, such as the new ideas on the way The Phantom Zone looks, and the new look of Brainiac’s technology. The mixing and matching of the best aspects of the Superman myth over the years in comics and on film, mixed with the new myths being created in these very pages, is nothing short of spectacular. Every page contains a new and unique, yet very much current Superman canon, look at various styles of Kryptonian dress, technology, architecture, and armament.
At the heart of this tale, with all of its Superman myth sci-fi gadgetry and super heroics, is a tale of the recurring yin and yang of man and woman, light and dark, and completeness of unity that is a universal theme. The Nightwing and Flamebird mythical images even form a very yin/yang looking symbol when penciled by Perez. Depth and mystery are added to the the myth of the two heroes, while at the same time light is shed on areas that the majority of Superman titles, and stories have touched on, but not delved much into yet, namely Kryptonian myth and religion. These two characters, as an overall mythic archetype, and the two current individuals bearing their names, Chris and Thara, become more and more interesting every time they appear. Action Comics Annual #12 simply makes these already interesting characters more intriguing, and engaging.
Rating: 9 /10