The Annuals should be issues where the characters just get to take a break from crimefighting. I want to see Bruce and Clark on a cruise!
Xa-du was banished back to the Phantom Zone with his ability to escape finally neutralized. But guess what?! He still has the ability to reach out of the Phantom Zone and manipulate people with his Hypno-Impulse! So his next plan is to reach out to all of Batman and Superman's enemies and convince them that Clark Kent needs to die.
Every window in Paris looks out on the Eiffel Tower. I think Escher designed the city.
I have no idea who the woman in Paris is in the scan above. Phobia? Oh, I bet it's Talia al Ghul, right? There's also a panel showing the Bahamas and a hand with a machete in it. I don't know who the fuck that would be either.
Superman is currently investigating the island where Doomsday exploded everything and killed everybody and whatever the fuck happened in Doomed! The island is on fire and spreading a thick black cloud of Doomsday dust. But Superman knows how to get rid of it and set himself up for a really exciting story where he has to battle Batman's enemies in much the same way Batman has always had to battle them: without any powers! Superman uses his new Exploding Vagina Power to disintegrate everything in a few miles radius around him. Except his power goes KRAKOOM unlike his sister's power which goes FWASH! I guess that's the difference in sound between a vagina exploding and a scrotum exploding. Now he's powerless for twenty-four hours! Just in time for Xa-du's Hypno-Impulse controlled villains to attack him!
Clark heads deeper into the island to await Batman's arrival because he'll be easier to find in the thick jungle than if he remained on the beach. He's looking for the source of the Doomsday Cloud and he finds a bunch of people scavenging medical supplies from one of the abandoned hospitals on the ruined resort island. They've been burning crap that apparently is full of Doomsday's toxins. And then the person in the Bahamas who was influenced by Xa-du attacks.
At least he's starting out with an easy villain.
Clark takes a throwing star to the back as he pushes some guy out of the way. It's the same guy he pushed out of the way earlier. I think that guy needs to start getting out of the way on his own. Also, Man-bat must not know what Clark Kent looks like. I will not make a blind as a bat joke because that's a myth and I only deal in truth and facts and self-embellishment. After Clark falls to the ground with a shuriken lodged in his spine, a mysterious woman comes to his rescue!
Now Clark and the mystery woman are stuck back to back by a throwing star.
Batman arrives to save their lives and says, "Idiots," as he arrives. What the fuck was that about? They're being attacked by a monster and he's going to chastise them? Does everybody really think the best way to write Batman is to make him a complete asshole?
My main question is why are Bane and Killer Croc working together? Xa-du's manipulation doesn't make them forget their past. It just makes them sort of feel like killing Clark Kent. But I think Bane might want a piece of Croc after what he did to him during Batman Eternal. And Croc obviously hasn't forgotten that Bane threw him from the top of Wayne Tower in Arkham War (which is why he humiliated Bane in Batman Eternal!). But now they're just going to forget all the bad blood because they both kind of sort of want to murder Clark Kent for some unknown reason? Bah.
You know what's better than having villains mind-controlled to attack the heroes? Giving the villains a motivation to attack the heroes that makes sense to their characters! But that's hard! And Greg Pak really loves the easy way out.
Clark wants to help Batman stop the thugs but Batman doesn't believe that Clark Kent is ready to go toe to toe with this group of villains (he's right). Batman decides he has to give Clark a quick rundown on the villains so Clark knows exactly why he'll be no help in a fight against them. Batman is a condescending dickhole. Clark Kent is a journalist! I think he knows about these thugs!
Batman tells the civilians to find anything they can use as a weapon and to sit tight while he takes care of business. Janice, the brave woman, uncovers a box full of knives and is all, "Batman sir! Will these do?" Then Clark is all, "I'm going to fight too!" So Batman ties him to a concrete post. Because what better way to use Clark than as bait so Batman can lure the bad guys in close.
Killer Croc breaks through a wall and Clark thinks, "I'm just flesh-and-blood right now and for the first time in ages, I remember what it feels like to be terrified."
Can I ask you a question, Mr. Pak? Do you read the things you write? Do you remember any of the things you write? Because you just recently wrote that story in Action Comics about Smallville turning into a horror story, remember? And remember how the creature devoured fear? And how it made everybody, including Superman, feel terrified? And the way Superman finally defeated the Ultra-Humanite was to allow himself to feel truly terrified so that it would consume too much fear and be sated? Or something like that. However it worked out, I'm fairly certain that the whole point of the story was to show Lana Lang that Superman also feels terror and loss. But now is the first time in ages he's felt scared! Okay. Whatever. I guess this story takes place before that story.
It turns out Clark was in on the "lure Killer Croc in close" plan (although he was still terrified! Coward!). I'm surprised Batman is allowing Clark to act so much in their missions lately. But then Batman and Croc are covered in rubble so now it's up to Clark to save Batman! Unless Janice saves Batman. She is much braver and more competent and less of a puss.
One pillar was taken out and this happens to half the hospital. What a shit building.
As Bane gives chase to Clark, Batman comes out of the jungle riding Croc. Through a series of hilarious misunderstandings, Killer Croc attacks Bane and they fall off of a cliff and into the ocean (with a little help from some of Batman's non-lethal explosives). Then Batman is all, "I guess you are kind of competent without any super powers. Hmph. Imagine that." Then he leaves Clark behind so that Clark can help Janice and her friends.
But then Janice stabs him in the stomach because Xa-du hypno-impulsed her.
Everything changes? So the writing will be good?
Ugh. Greg Pak, you seriously need to try harder. You're coming up with themes that work but then doing a half-assed job turning them into a story. So here you wanted a powerless Clark to be able to prove to Batman that he could handle himself against Batman's enemies. That's actually an interesting kernel for a story. But the thing that kernel turned into? It's a mess! It's not an Ann Nocenti level mess but it still comes across as sloppy because the characters are just cardboard cutouts to move the plot along. I suppose if I wanted to defend you, I could say mind control explains it all. But then I have to believe that Xa-du has this kind of power from within the Phantom Zone even after losing half of his brain? I don't even want to believe that Xa-du exists!