I went browsing yesterday in the two remaining secondhand bookshops in Whitley Bay, Bay Books and Oliver’s. One of the books I came away with was the 1983 British Superman Annual, which reprinted the trilogy of stories by Len Wein and Jim Starlin from DC Comics Presents issues 27-29 (cover-dated November 1980 to January 1981) that introduced the alien super-villain Mongul. There’s also a Superboy story by Cary Bates and Bob Brown.
A major selling point was the cover by Brian Bolland. Twomorrows later reprinted it for an article in Draw! about the artwork produced for British DC reprint annuals, but they printed it in monochrome. This allowed them to misidentify the floating head at top left as Darkseid. But it’s not him, or Thanos, either. I wonder if Jim Starlin is throwing himself into the upcoming Death of the New Gods in the hope of getting rid of Darkseid, and so covering up his artistic tracks.
Coincidentally, the illustration on the endpapers is an undistinguished piece by Dave Gibbons, who would go on to draw Mongul in his most memorable outing, “For the Man Who Has Everything”, written by Alan Moore.
The stories are quite fun. One point of note is that, after Superman has screwed up and allowed Mongul to get the key to the star-sized weapon platform Warworld, he turns to Supergirl for “heavy duty super-help”. Supergirl soon demonstrates that she is more level-headed than her cousin.
It’s not a characterisation I expect to see any time soon in the current run of Supergirl.
Pictures and Panels
Superman Official Annual 1983, cover by Brian Bolland, London Editions Magazines, 1982
Superman and Supergirl “Warworld!” by Len Wein (scripter), Jim Starlin and Romeo Tanghal (artists), Ben Oda (letterer), Jerry Serpe (colourist) and Julius Schwartz (editor), DC Comics Presents issue 28, DC Comics, December 1980, reprinted in Superman Official Annual 1983, London Editions Magazines, 1982