For the first Annual edition of ‘Action Comics’ following DC’s New 52 reboot, back-up writer Sholly Fisch steps to the forefront for a tale that introduces the new Kryptonite Man. Can the Man of Steel face down an enemy that is powered by his main weakness? More importantly, is the story good enough that you’ll care? Let’s take a look…

The issue opens on Clay Ramsay chatting with a scientist. The doctor seems intent on finding out why Ramsay hates Superman and then tells him that there might be a way to get vindication. For fans who’ve been following this title, you’ll remember Ramsay from both the future versions of Superman during Morrison’s run, as well as a throwaway line from Clark’s landlady about a wife-beater who Superman tossed out a window. Well… that abusive husband was Ramsay and he’s got a beef with big blue for that little incident.

With Ramsay discussing his future with the mysterious scientists, Superman is making some future plans of his own. Since Metropolis engineer John Henry Irons (not yet Steel) appeared a few issues back to using a robotic suit to help defend the city, Superman is curious as to whether the man might be a threat. I thought this was a very telling scene since Superman had a similar encounter with Dr. Veritas in ‘Superman’ #13. It appears as if the New 52 Superman isn’t as naive and trusting as the pre-reboot hero.

Back with Ramsay, the crook volunteers to let the scientists use him as a guinea pig. The promise of Superman-like powers is too enticing, despite the possibility that the experiment will kill him. As is often the cases with origin stories, the experiment (which involves firing Kryptonite beam into the human anatomy) goes awry. This leaves Ramsay with superhuman strength and speed. More importantly, he’s now irradiated with Kryptonite which makes him a more than formidable foe for Superman!

I won’t spoil the Superman/Kryptonite Man showdown but it’s a blast to read! I understand that Morrison is an artist and likes to explore some of the themes and messages behind an iconic character like Superman but, as a fan, sometimes I just want to see a cool villain throw down with the Man of Steel. Fisch delivers that kind of fun in spades with this issue! It doesn’t move the storyline along much other than setting up Kryptonite Man and his ties to the government and Lex Luthor but it’s sure to have repercussions in the Superman titles in the stories to come.

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Written by Sholly Fisch
Art by Cully Hamner
Cover by Cully Hamner