Lois Lane Annual
Ok, I gotta say I really like this cover. It's very unique, and even though the execution is fairly simplistic, the overall concept is surprisingly effective. But it's misleading. Yes, the whole story kind of revolves around leftovers from Brainiac's first attack back in Morrison's Action Comics, but Brainiac himself appears only in one short flashback and nowhere else. This story really just sets up a future Brainiac encounter, it doesn't chronicle one.
Dan Jurgens' artwork definitely has a bit of a retro vibe, but he's always been a good fit for Superman. There's something especially effective about it in this story, but I can't place my finger on it. Something about the focus on Lois Lane, newspapers, hardline investigation; I don't know what it is, but the art seems very fitting.
I thought there was going to be more variety among 'The Twenty,' so it's a little disappointing to see that all of them just have swelled brains and psi powers. Plus, its the one thing in Jurgens art that doesn't work in this issue, the swelled heads just look bizarre and awkward. But it's still good to see some new information on that idea. The issue plays out with a very interesting mystery wrapped in the plot device of a different mystery. This is one of the few cases where beginning in medias res actually works out really well, because the meaning of the beginning changes by the time we reach the end. And as we wait to find out how Lois 'died,' we're treated to an investigation on 'The Twenty,' and I feel like it's been a while since we've seen this kind of interview civilian based investigation work. There's definitely a few pieces of the puzzle that are a bit convoluted or confusing, but the pacing is pretty nice overall, though I still think it's a bit odd that an Annual was dedicated to a mere prologue to something larger and still a bit vague.
As much as I've generally been enjoying the World of Krypton story, it has no business whatsoever being here. It's been in the latest 3 issues of Action Comics, but suddenly Part 4 is in Superman Annual? So to continue reading the co-feature, you have to pick up a whole Annual of a series you may not be reading? I'm generally much softer on crossovers than most people, but this is utterly ridiculous, especially since there's no indication beforehand that this would be here.
In Conclusion: 3.5/5
This annual certain has its ups and downs, but it's a bit better than most of the recent issues of Superman. If you've been following Lobdell's convoluted H.I.V.E. story, you don't want to miss this, but if not, it's a toss up whether you want this or not. I will say Lois Lane fans should probably give this one a look, since she takes the spotlight beautifully.