Unbagging DC Comics Presents Annual #2


DC Comics Presents, Vol. 1 Annual


DC Comics Presents Annual #2

Release: Apr 14, 1983

Cover: 1983


WriterElliot S. Maggin
Cover ArtistGil Kane
PencillerKeith Pollard
InkerTod Smith, Mike DeCarlo
ColoristGene D’Angelo
LettererTodd Klein
EditorJulius Schwartz

Right on…?! Nobody says “right on” anymore–!

Happy Miracle Monday to all who celebrate!

In honor of the sacred day I thought I should take a look at a story featuring the comics debut of of the key–

What’s that? You don’t know what Miracle Monday is?

I go into more detail here, but for the purposes of this post I’ll give a condensed explanation.

“Miracle Monday” is a holiday that occurs annually on the third Monday in May and was introduced in a novel also called Miracle Monday that features Superman, was published in 1981, and written by Elliot S! Maggin, a longtime writer of Superman comics (as well as others, but the Superman part is what’s most significant here).

The novel, like its predecessor Superman: The Last Son of Krypton, coincided with the release of the latest movie in the then-current Superman franchise, though both novels were set in the continuity of the comics and had no direct connection to the movies.

In the story, on the third Monday in May, Superman does…something. No one can remember exactly what, but everyone knows that it was a miracle, and on that day as humanity looked up in the sky, their spirits soared like Superman.

So ultimately it’s only an imaginary holiday – but aren’t they all? – known to and celebrated by only a few nerds. I, however, am of the opinion that it should be more broadly known and should be celebrated by everyone, and it doesn’t matter that no miracle has occurred for us to celebrate – that we know of – but I believe that the world joining in celebration on a random Monday would be miraculous enough to be worthy of celebrating.

But back to the matter at hand. In the novel, even in the 29th Century Miracle Monday is still celebrated without anyone actually knowing what or why they were celebrating. To remedy that, History student Kristin Wells travelled back in time to 20th Century Metropolis to solve the mystery of Miracle Monday and in the process – which I won’t get into here – became the catalyst for the events that led to the holiday’s adoption.

And that brings us to this issue, also written by Maggin, in which we find Kristin – who is, in the year 2862, a History professor– teaching a class about a 20th Century hero known as Superwoman, the only hero from that era whose secret identity remains a mystery.

Several of her students insist that the abilities that Superwoman displayed could be easily explained by modern – by 29th Century standards – technology.

Kristin's students suggest that she should get the university to send her back in time to investigate the identity of Superwoman, noting that she's travelled to the 20th Century before.
Kristin has short red hair and freckles.
I’m thankful that my professors never dressed like Kristin.

Kristin travels back to 1983, shortly before Superwoman made her first appearance. She swings by The Daily Planet and manages to get a job working as a typist for Lois Lane who is in the process of writing a book, a book Kristin knows is going to be a success.

While snooping around in Lois’s office she finds a costume hanging in a closet. More to the point, Superwoman’s costume. Mystery solved: Lois Lane is Supewoman!

After waiting for a half an hour – she was supposed to spend a half an hour retyping some pages from the manuscript for Lois as a test, but she came prepared with pre-typed pages copied from the published book – Kristin ventures back out into the city room and lands the job.

She also gets hit on by Jimmy Olsen who immediately invites her to a costume party that evening and assumes she accepted without waiting for her to respond – there’s a reason he was, at the time, known as “Mr. Action” – and “meets” Clark Kent.

Clark, of course, knows her from her previous visit.

While they get caught up we stop by a point somewhere near Saturn where a spaceship belonging to someone calling himself King Kosmos appears and sets a course for Earth.

On Earth, Kristin asks Clark if he knows who Superwoman is, and he wonders if she means his cousin, Supergirl.

No, not Supergirl…someone altogether different–at least I think it isn’t the same person as Supergirl!

However, King Kosmos interrupts their conversation by appearing outside and zapping a building that’s under construction.

Clark springs into action as Superman, and Kristin thinks about how dangerous history has shown King Kosmos to be. She points out the battle happening outside to Lois. Lois is rather blasé about the whole thing, as she assumes that Superman will make quick work of the alien threat and it will be a below-the-fold story in tomorrow’s Planet.

Raul Julia as M. Bison saying For me, it was Tuesday.
Lois: For you, the day Superman fought an alien spaceship was a historic event.

Kristin pulls out the costume from the closet and insists that Superman needs the help of the person who belongs in it. Lois says that’s Clark’s cousin, Linda (Supergirl) Danvers, as it’s the costume she’s wearing to the party that evening when she arrives from Chicago.

Knowing that Linda Danvers and Supergirl are one and the same, Kristin frantically dials the operator to get Linda’s phone number.

Linda, however, isn’t at home, as she’s on a plane on her way to Metropolis.

Superman, meanwhile, appears to get blasted to smithereens!

Except, no, he didn’t. Clark immediately appears before Kristin in Lois’s office. Turns out he’d gotten sent through a time warp to the 6th Century from which he quickly returned to the present.

Kristin decides she needs to give Clark a little bit of info about who he’s up against, which leads to a bit of Comics Code-approved sauciness.

Kristin drags Clark into a coatroom.
A smiling Lois and Jimmy observe and Jimmy comments on her dragging Clark into the room.
Lois says, "They're both grownups, Jimmy! Let them play--!"
Whoever recolored this for DC Universe Infinite was pretty sloppy. Also, Lois is as unconcerned about workplace behavior as she is attacking spaceships.

Even though it’s against the rules of time travel, Kristin uses one of her futuristic devices to give Clark the holographic rundown on King Kosmos, who is an evil dictator from an alternate future. According to speculation, he was overthrown and escaped through a dimensional warp. She can’t tell Clark any more than that without revealing his own future to him.

The two go for a walk and Clark – as Clark – has to save a little girl from being hit by a car, which Kristin knew was going to happen because she recognized the girl as someone who will grow up to become an industrialist who creates a scholarship named after her rescuer.

Then the evening arrives and we find ourselves at the party Jimmy conscripted Kristin to attend with him.

A shot of people mingling at a party, many in costumes, including someone in the background dressed as Spider-Man. Jimmy is wearing  his Elastic Lad costume and talking to Kristin who is wearing yellow leotard.
The text indicates that "anything goes" at Morgan Edge's parties, so people wear costumes to avoid being identified in gossip columns.
Get a load of the wall-crawling wallflower. Does this technically count as the third Superman/Spider-Man crossover?

Clark arrives a bit late after picking Linda up from the airport. While Clark has her costume with him, she shows up in regular clothes to give everyone a chance to meet her as herself. (Even though she’s technically already in disguise.)

This throws Kristin off, as she’s now convinced that Linda isn’t Superwoman. She blows off Jimmy to follow Clark into a dressing room, which doesn’t seem to deter Jimmy as much as it ought to.

Kristin is annoyed at Clark because she thinks he’s being evasive on the subject of who is really going to wear the costume. Clark doesn’t have any answers and isn’t concerned about Kristin’s mission as he’s more concerned about luring King Kosmos back out.

Speaking of the devil makes him appear, and Clark has to do a quick change to fly out the window and deal with an apparent nuclear explosion. However, it proves to be an illusion and is most likely a trap, so he returns to the party.

Once there, however, he finds everyone glued to the TV as King Kosmos is broadcasting a message stating that he will demonstrate his powers on the very townhouse where the party is being held.

Kristin uses the technology in her amulet to protect herself as everyone around her – even Clark and Linda – are rendered unconscious by some strange energy.

And as everyone around her falls, so do the pieces of the puzzle fall into place for her.

Kristin is confused as everyone around her is unconscious. She buttons up Clark's shirt, as he had passed out while removing his shirt and his Superman costume is revealed underneath it. She realizes something and runs tot he dressing room.

Reader, did you guess the (obvious) answer to the mystery of Superwoman’s identity?

If not, be prepared for the shock of your life!

Kristin realize that SHE is Superwoman and puts on the costume.

Superwoman flies off to take on King Kosmos even as he zaps every other hero in the world to prevent them from interfering.

King Kosmos announces to the world that he has taken control of the United States’ orbiting nuclear weaponry and gives them one hour to surrender authority to him. Before he can finish talking about his plans for the rest of the world, Kristin interrupts by speaking the words that history recorded as the world’s introduction to Superwoman:

Let history bear witness that no American ever had to bow to a tyrant!

It’s…not really that catchy.

She bursts into his ship, accuses him of bluffing when he says he’s released a device, is distracted when she sees that he actually has, and gets punched in the back of the head.

Back at the party, Clark regains consciousness and springs into action, just in time to catch the barely conscious Kristin who is falling after King Kosmos’s ship vanished.

Once she’s recovered she explains that her amulet protects her from the effects of the ray that knocked Superman for a loop and she tells him to meet her in Dallas she seemingly blinks out of existence.

Superman gets there quickly and is surprised to find her there already, but she has no time to explain how her 29th Century matter-transference device works as they need to stop the falling nuclear reactor above them.

Superman catches it and Superwoman sends Superman and the reactor into deep space, telling Superman that she’ll leave him a note telling him where to find her next.

Of course, it’s really more of a when.

Kristin left a message in the sky that Superman can read:
Washington D.C.
April 14, 1865

King Kosmos it seems is trying to change history.

Before Superman arrives, Superwoman is able to force King Kosmos out of his ship and while they battle in the air Superman is able to destroy the ship.

However, King Kosmos zaps Superman with a pocket of space from a system that has a red star like Krypton did, which strips him of his powers. Kristin is able to knock him out of it, and the two of them follow King Kosmos through the time-barrier.

As they pursue him, Supewoman refuses to apprehend King Kosmos even though she’s closer than Superman is. As Superman catches him, she does, however, knock the device that allows King Kosmos to navigate through time out of his hand.

But King Kosmos refuses to be apprehended and chooses to simply become lost in time with no way to control where or when he’ll end up.

Kristin then explains why she refused to nab King Kosmos herself:

Kristin reveals that she couldn't change history, which states that Superman catches King Kosmos the first time.
Superman realizes that means he'll return. Kristin says that she lipped and shouldn't have said that.
The exit the time-barrier to return to Metropolis in 1983.
He does indeed come back. More on that in a bit.

The next day at the Planet, Linda is there looking for her cousin, and Lois and Jimmy are looking for Kristin.

Clark shows up explains that he was out all night getting an exclusive interview with Superwoman.

Kristin is waiting for Clark in his office, but she can’t stay long as she has to return to her own time to write up the historical account of how she turned out to be the hero she’d idolized her whole life.

She also wants to get away from Jimmy.

Jimmy walks in on Kristin kissing Clark.
Kristin walks out of the office and then disappears promising that she'll see Clark again soon.
Jimmy is angry at Clark

Back in the future, we join Kristin’s class as it’s wrapping up.

One of her students asks her a personal question – why wasn’t she nicer to Jimmy? After all, as she reveals some secrets about what is, from our perspective, yet-to-be for young Mr. Olsen, the student thinks he was quite a catch,

Even Kristin agrees that she found him attractive, but romance just wasn’t in the cards.

The fact that he was being a pushy creep isn’t addressed, and I doubt that Maggin even realized he was writing Jimmy as a pushy creep.

No, the reason is that Kristin’s great-grandmother was the daughter of James Olsen IV, so she was skeeved out by the idea of romancing one of her direct ancestors and not by the fact that he was just skeevy.

The story ends with it being a bit up int he air about if or when Kristin will return to the past. It’s assumed that she will, as Superwoman was seen again, but Kristin notes that the history of that period is a bit hazy.

Of course, that’s just all the more reason for her to travel back in time again…

We wouldn’t see Kristin/Superwoman again until two years later, in DC Comics Presents Annual #4, also written by Maggin.

That second appearance would basically be her last. She did have something of a cameo in Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?, the last Superman story published before the reboot in 1986, but it was just an appearance. She also had a cameo in The Kingdom: Planet Krypton in 1999.

In the mid-2000s there was a version of Kristin Wells who was a Kryptonian who’d departed Krypton before its destruction.

And there have, of course, been multiple versions of Superwoman both before and after Kristin, with Lois Lane, Lana Lang, and even Lucy Lane among the women who have taken on that title at various points.

King Kosmos reappeared sooner, showing up in 1984 in Superman Annual #10.

Superman vol. 1 Annual

I had not yet read Miracle Monday when this issue came out, so Kristin was entirely new to me. I found her to be an interesting character overall, though I grew to like her more in her second appearance. I was particularly fond of the way that she carefully studied the culture of the time period she travelled to, including the slang, but tended to be off by a couple of decades in that regard.

As a hero…meh. Superwoman wasn’t really that interesting, though some of her “powers’ were kind of neat. But ultimately, she didn’t really do much, and while it may be that Maggin had plans to do more with her, the appearances we did get didn’t lend credence to the idea that she was “quite possibly the greatest heroine of the 20th Century.”

The overall plot was pretty thin, King Kosmos, despite having the ability to KO every established hero in the world, was a pretty lackluster villain, and the twist wasn’t a twist at all. Even I figured it out immediately and I was dumb as hell when it came to that sort of thing back then. (Still am sometimes.)

The art from the always-dependable Keith Pollard is great, and I like the Superwoman design a lot, even if the mask doesn’t really fit the aesthetic or ethos of the Superfamily. The scenes in the future are, ironically, incredibly dated, but they looked cool at the time, and back then it was always a given that most future women would basically be walking around in swimsuits all the time.

Also, I should note that the colors by Gene D’Angelo in the print version of this story are far superior to the digitized version.

In terms of story, I found Kristin’s second (comic book) appearance more entertaining than this – and that one also has great art – but I wanted to look at this one on this holiday because it was my first exposure to her.

The story of Miracle Monday is superior to both of Kristin’s comic appearances in every way – though being prose it does lack the great art – but a lot of that has to do with it having a different focus. In this story, the idea was to bring Kristin – and a new hero – into the comics, while the novel was focused on the nature of heroism in general and how it pertains to Superman in particular, the value of being steadfast, and the importance of looking up in the sky in search of miracles.

It’s a beautiful story that gets to the heart of what has made Superman such an enduring symbol of hope for so long.

And it’s why I think the third Monday in May is and always will be a miracle that’s worth celebrating.

Born and raised in the sparsely populated Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Jon Maki developed an enduring love for comics at an early age.

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