Spring Break Reviewstravaganza: Action Comics Annual #1 (1987)

Written by John Byrne|Pencilled by Art Adams|Inked by Dick Giordiano|Lettered by Albert Deguzma|Colored by Petra Scotese|Edited by Michael Carlin

AKA Superman and Batman Versus Vampires, But Not Werewolves, Also it’s Pretty Much Just One Vampire.

We start out with an angry mob chasing a young woman through the swamp, fully Frankensteined out, torches and all. This young woman is apparently named Skeeter, a name which, unsurprisingly, is kind of funny when revealed in a sentence like “STOP RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE… SKEETER!” I must note here that “Skeeter” is in unneccesarily large type, like it’s the title to an OMAC story. The caption boxes note that “Terror chills the very marrow of her bones. A black and shapeless terror that will soon reach out to touch.” That is apparently supposed to be connected to the Superman and Batman logos beneath.

The angry mob continues to chase Skeeter, and one member notes that “She knows these swamps like the back of her hand! All her kind do!” What’s “her kind”, you ask? Did you not see the cover? Skeeter escapes the mob after leading them away from her house, then goes back to the house to talk to her parents. Apparently Skeeter’s returned home after a long stay in the big city to find her parents dead.

Cut to a small town, where a burly dude has rolled into town, having given a stranger a ride after her car broke down, and is searching for info. He rolls into a diner, has some coffee, and gets a recommendation for a hotel. Later, in the hotel room, said burly dude changes into his costume, for he is no ordinary stranger… he is the Batman! No sooner does he change into his Batman guise than he finds the stranger he rolled into town with drained of blood in an alley. The townspeople, seeing a man in a bat costume next to a woman drained of blood in a town plagued by vampires, naturally assume the worst, swarming him from both sides of the alley. He drops a smoke grenade and retreats to higher ground. He flashes back to when Gordon first told him about the victims of vampirism, back when it was happening in Gotham, most likely the “big city” Skeeter mentioned. He calls on Superman, who gets to going.

Meanwhile, Batman is confronted by Skeeter, who assumes the same thing the townspeople did. Superman touches down in town, and because he’s not dressed as a bat, he immediately gains the trust of the local police. Also, because he’s Superman. That one also helps. Cut to Batman, who goes with Skeeter to her house and discovers that… her parents are dead! He reacts with shock to this, and Skeeter freaks out because he says “Good lord”, which apparently vampires can’t do. Cut to Superman, who visits what is apparently the Vampire Ward of the hospital. Cut back to Batman, who has been found out, even though he never claimed to be a vampire. Anyway, he falls victim to Skeeter’s microwave-vision, or all that bulky spandex is finally taking its toll in the muggy Louisiana air. He jumps out the window, and apparently drowns.

Back in town, the Vampire Ward has been breached, and it’s up to Superman to build a wall around the victims, which he does, very quickly, because he is Superman. This apparently gave Skeeter enough time to get there, and since Superman is vulnerable to magic, this is bad. Sure enough, he gets scratched by Skeeter, but aside from that has little difficulty holding her at bay until Batman, who shows up with a sweet Mark Twain quote, can get there to stake her. They get to burying the victims, and the last panel implies Batman is going to have a long day of staking the victims so they don’t get back up ahead of him.

Also revealed on the final page? Skeeter and her parents were over one hundred years old! WoOoOo!

Also? Her parents lived in pre-Civil War Louisiana, so they were probably hella racist! WoOoOoOoOo!

Honestly, there wasn’t really a lot of vampire action outside that one fight with Superman. Kind of disappointing. Art Adams draws beautifully, though.

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