Action Comics Annual #12 was originally published in August 2009 and carries a cover price of $4.99. It’s 40 pages of story by Greg Rucka and Pere Perez.
This one-off issue features the origin of Nightwing and Flamebird. It’s a space opera type of story about Krypton and Kandor. I think this annual would be more interesting to readers who had been following all the Krytpon stuff that had been going on in the Superman titles a couple years ago. I haven’t really read that stuff, so I feel like I’m missing some of the allusions.
Nonetheless, this is quite an entertaining yarn. Rucka does a good job of creating a narrative tangentially related to Superman. Even though I may not grasp the significance of Nightwing and Flamebird, this story presents me with all the information I need in order to understand the world these characters inhabit. The overall structure of this story is satisfying because Rucka gives enough characterization and development through conflicts, and it’s easy to see how the main characters grow through their tribulations. Perez’s art is in the DC house style, but it’s pleasant enough and shows the potential of the skills he would later display in some of Grant Morrison’s Batman books.
The thing that most fascinates me about this comic is that it’s a space opera, but Rucka wrote it. In a way, it somewhat reminds me of Ed Brubaker’s Rise and Fall of the Shi’ar Empire in Uncanny X-Men from several years ago. While this annual obviously can’t compete with the sheer scope and ambition (and number of pages) of Brubaker’s 12-issue epic, I find it fascinating that both writers, who are known for their crime comics, have done their own space opera superhero stories. In fact, there’s something about Rucka’s third-person narrative captions in this annual that remind me of how Brubaker structured and wrote some of those Uncanny comics, particularly those Vulcan issues. There’s something matter-of-fact in the tone that reminds me of pulpy science fiction.
This was a fun one-shot that’s worth reading on its own. I can only imagine its entertainment value would increase the more familiar one is with the other Superman storylines that were going on at the time this was published.
For what it’s worth, I think this comic is worth a solid buck or two. I’m just glad I found it for a quarter.