The first eight Superman annuals were published in the 1960s, and consisted of reprints. Annual 9, from 1983, is the first one to feature all new material. And despite a story by Elliot S Maggin, and art by Alex Toth and Terry Austin, something went wrong along the way with the first story in the issue.
Vusally, every page of this story is a treat to read, and Batman is used very well in it.
The problems lie elsewhere. Steve Lombard is shown to be still working at WGBS, despite having been fired. And Lex Luthor is back in his former costume, and acting quite silly considering his most recent story. This was clearly written before (or at least set before) his big reboot, which means that the Lex we are reading about has none of the intensity and drive for vengeance that was just created a few months earlier. The story even goes all out for laughs, with Batman pretending to be Luthor’s brother, in order to lure the villain.
Perhaps if this had been published a year earlier it would have worked. But at this point, it feels dumb.
The back-up story, by Bates, Maggin and Swan, does have a lot of charm to it, although it also feels quite old-fashioned. Curt Swan himself is the central character, working on the latest Superman tale.
He falls asleep at his desk, and wakes up in Superman’s reality. Seeking out Clark Kent, he explains who he is. Superman has been to Earth-Prime (our Earth), and so he believes Swan, and takes him flying, an fights some thieves, before sending him back to his world.
Swan wakes at his desk, and sees that his pages have already been completed, apparently in his sleep. It was all a dream…or was it?