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CSBG Archive

A Year of Cool Comics – Day 309

Here is the latest in our year-long look at one cool comic (whether it be a self-contained work, an ongoing comic or a run on a long-running title that featured multiple creative teams on it over the years) a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the comics posted so far!

Today we look at the very first Action Comics Annual, by John Byrne, Art Adams and Dick Giordano.

Enjoy!

Action Comics Annual #1, released in 1987, is a curious book to look at nowadays, as it is very much steeped in the continuity of the day (soon after John Byrne had done his reboot of Superman), at least as it pertains to the relationship between Batman and Superman.

Still, it is a well-told vampire story with great artwork by Art Adams, making (I believe) his first full-issue debut at DC, and on an over-sized annuals featuring their two biggest characters, no less!!!

The comic opens with a bunch of villagers chasing a young woman named Skeeter into the swamp. Of course, things are not as they seem…

It reminds me a bit of the first scene in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer – the cute blonde chick is actually a vampire!!!

So Batman travels to the town tracking a killer who leaves his/her victims looking like a vampire killed them.

Adams is definitely vibing Miller here….

The townspeople, however, think he is a vampire, too!

He realizes he needs some extra help here, so he contacts Superman. Note the state of their relationship – they still barely know each other…

The townspeople are not the only ones who think Batman is a vampire, though…

When she realizes he isn’t, it does not go well for Batman. She is also pissed, so she decides to cause all of her victims to rise from the grave and attack the town. Superman must get involved…

Byrne told a strong story but wow, Adams and Giordano are excellent here! This lived up to the hype!

The resolution of the issue was particularly cool. Be sure to seek it out (Batman has some really awesome badass moments, especially the dénouement to the story).

24 Comments

I like how you point out that it’s probably Adams’ DC debut. Considering how little output he has in 25 years in the industry, might this be his ONLY DC work? (I’m sure it’s not, but I bet he hasn’t done a lot of DC work, either.)

I’m not a big fan of the Byrne Superman, but this is a great comic.

Greg- Adams hasn’t done too much for DC- a few pages of a Wonder Woman annual, part of the Armageddon Inferno miniseries, part of the Neil Gaiman Superman/Green Lantern thing are the things I can think of (not counting Wildstorm or ABC stuff). This might be the only DCU book where he was the sole artist, anyway.

I like the art in this issue.

I remember loving this comic. I even bought a couple extra copies to give as gifts to friends who were semi-skeptical but ultimately open to reading comics. As I recall, they liked it too.

I was at a San Diego con a couple of years after this came out. Someone in the audience asked what it was like to work on the book. Adams said he had fun, but that the editor called him to say that he thought Superman’s head was too big. As Adams told the story he paused, and said, “So I erased the heads I’d just drawn and drew them all bigger.”

Man, that hokey southern dialogue in the first few pages are dreadful.

And wait, what Gaiman Superman/Green Lantern thing?

And wait, what Gaiman Superman/Green Lantern thing?

I was thinking of doing a Year of Cool Comics on that book, and I guess I will definitely do so, just to let you know what it is! :)

I like how Batman isn’t Batman here, but *the* Batman. Definite articles = more mysterious.

Good stuff – always an Art Adams fan, but definitely chaneling Miller here – that Batman leaping over the wall from pg 12 and silhouetted Superman w glowing logo are straight out of Dark Knight

Adams did a bunch of covers for some Superman books a while back (around the time that Simone/Byrne were on one book, and I think when Austen was on another, so that may be why it was forgotten). I think he was even DC exclusive at that point.

They did ever publish that Gaiman Superman/GL thing? Guess I’ll be waiting with bated breath for the cool comics feature.

Adams also did a bunch of stories for Tom Strong’s Terrific Tales and at least one issue of Millar’s Authority.

I think there’s a sequel to this book where Superman and Robin team up to fight vampires. Not sure which Robin, but it’s probably Tim Drake. (It’s around Superman 69, I think. Honest, I don’t know why I remember the issue number…)

I really, really love Art Adams, and I’m a fan of Dick Giordano, but the two of them together really are less than the sum of their parts. Art Adams Marvel work was SO much better than this, and I’m guessing the inker was the difference. Also, I don’t think his art style meshes as well with Batman and Superman as it does with the X-Men and Spider-Man. Who was Adams Marvel inker? Terry Austin?

According to comics.org, Austin inked Adams at least on XMen Annual 10, where Longshot joins. It’s hard to shuffle through his penciller credits to find his inkers. I assume Austin probably inked him in other cases at Marvel.

I know there are 2 you won’t like, T. Adams did 2 Daredevil covers inked by Klaus Janson, and his recent Hulk (Loeb written) stuff is inked by Walden Wong. The Hulk stuff looked good (it’s a big dumb story, but it was kinda fun).

Some things he’s inked himself. I thought the DC covers were inked by (name…escaping…me…) (ah, found it) Joyce Chin, and that looked pretty good.

Maybe it’s the clashing of Superman and Batman that doesn’t look right. I dig Superman’s big chin here.

And as a nod to the opening scene shown here (a scene reminiscent of Buffy), would you ever feature the series Scarlett from DC from about 93/94? I have the first 10 issues, it’s kinda neat.

This is just a really good annual. In fact, it has all the key qualities that an ideal comics annual should have: a well-written, entertaining done-in-one story with beautiful art. And, quite importantly, the vampire is unequivocally a bad guy (or girl in this case), which is how it should be…

I remember getting scared reading this as a kid. Good times!

Just to add to Adams’ DC credits: during the Loeb/ McGuiness run on a Superman title (2000, 2001 or so), Adams drew a few pages of the Christmas issue. I can’t remember for sure, but I think he did a back-up story in Walt Simonson’s Orion series. He drew at least one Gen-13/ Generation X crossover, possibly both.

He also drew the covers to JLA: Scary Monsters and the JLApe Annuals.

T., Adams’ inker for the Longshot mini was Whice Portacio. I’m pretty sure Bob Wiacek and Terry Austin inked most of X-Men: Asgardian Wars.

Just wanted to throw a 2 cents in how much I prefer the post crisis “we work together, but w’ere not buddies” thing. The palsy-walsy Clark/Bruce stuff just annoys me…especially as it doesn’t fit with the modern takes on the characters or with the rather ongoing darkness of the DCU in general.

I could look at Art Adams’ work all day long.

One of my earliest comic book memories was reading his X-Men annual where they went to the Savage Land and fought Terminus. No one else can do the X-Men as well, IMO.

Man, that was a fun issue too. The Outback X-Men were usually so dark, it was fun to see a lighter tone, even for one book.

Love how Bruce has to tap into a telephone pole line to make the call – no Bat-iPhone back then

Great Adams art here. Too bad the chick was a vampire, ’cause baby got back. ;-)

I grew up on the World’s Finest stuff and the lighter DCU of the 70’s, so the Superman/Batman friendship was something I really missed after Byrne’s reboot. Like most pre-Crisis concepts, it’s slowly returned to continuity, but it works okay here compared to other stories of the time.

I love the post-Crisis status quo as well…much more than the buddy-buddy relationship others seem to favor. And the Adams work looks really good here.

Maybe because it’s early in the morning here, but I didn’t get the scene with her parents…who was she referring to when she said “they”?

The first time I saw Art Adams’ work in a DC book was in the pages of Who’s Who about a couple years prior to this story. If I recall correctly, he drew the Catman and Scarecrow entries.

Art Adams was at the top of his form here, though it isn’t as strong as X-Men Ann. #9 or 10. I’m pretty sure this was both his DC debut and the only full DC issue he did, though he participated in smaller ways in other titles, like Crisis on Infinite Earths (maybe, or one of those mini-series) and the aforementioned Who’s Who.

His style changed dramatically after this, and you can see the development from the X-Men annuals to this issue to his work on Creature from the Black Lagoon. He continued to add more linework and detail, where his early X-Men stuff was marked by a lack of it — it was very cartoony for its time.

@wwk5d: She was referring to the townspeople. They had discovered that hers was a family of vampires, so they staked her parents and were after her.

@Lt. Clutch, and others who miss the old friendship between Superman and Batman: get a hold of Thom Zahler’s “Love and Capes.” I think you’ll like it. You can read the first issue online at http://www.loveandcapes.com

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