Mild Mannered Reviews - Specials

Superman & Batman: Generations II #2

Superman & Batman: Generations II #2

Scheduled to arrive in stores: September 6, 2001

Cover date: November 2001

Writer: John Byrne
Penciller: John Byrne
Inker: John Byrne

Reviewed by: Michael Bailey (Room101Comics@aol.com)



1964: Children's Hour

Saturday, October 31st. Young Bruce Wayne, Jr., on the receiving end of the ire of his mother as Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson, now Batman, watch. BJ is wearing the Robin uniform and his mother has already established that she does not want him to become Robin to Dick's Batman until he is eighteen years old. Dick and Bruce agree with her and leave BJ standing in the Batcave with Alfred.

In the suburban Metropolis home of the Kent family, young Kara Kent is excitedly trying on her Supergirl uniform. Clark and Lois discuss the decision coming to the conclusion with Clark to train her Kara had a distinct advantage over her father when it came to becoming a Superhero.†As they gush over the young girl her older brother, Joel, watches and fumes with jealousy. He goes to his room and activates a secret device which teleports him to the lair of Lex Luthor where Joel denounces Clark and calls Luthor his only true father, the only one that has ever cared about him.

Back in Gotham, Kara, in her Supergirl uniform, shows up at the bedroom window of BJ, who is still in his Robin uniform. BJ tells her that his mother still refuses to let him start his Robin career with Batman. Kara smiles and points out that his mother told him that he couldn't team with Batman but not her.

Batman, meanwhile, arrives at an apartment and skulks around, seemingly expecting a trap. Batman is jumped by Batgirl and the two heroes spar a bit before disappearing behind a couch for hours.

With Robin concerned about them being grounded for life he and Supergirl continue their flight and arrive at Central City. As the two teenagers approach city limits Kid Flash is in combat with the Weather Wizard. Part way into the battle Kid Flash tries to capture the Wizard and finds that there is nothing there when he tries to grab the villain. After Kid Flash runs into a wall, which knocks him unconscious, Mirror Master reveals himself with the Weather Wizard yelling that he should have pulled his mirror stunt earlier in the fight. While the two villains carry the young speedster off Robin and Supergirl make their appearance. The Weather Wizard goes into action filling the room with fog. Supergirl inhales the fog and spits it out as pressurized water knocking the Rouges back. Their victory is short lived as Gorilla Grodd fires a ray gun at Supergirl and Robin, which knocks them unconscious.

Back in Gotham, Dick puts his uniform back on as Barbara (Batgirl) comes out of the shower commenting on the good workout the two had. After Barbara puts her Batgirl uniform on the two heroes go out onpatrol. Dick comments on how he hopes that BJ doesn't think that his agreeing with BJ's mother has anything to do with the Batman/Batgirl team.

Diana Trevor receives a worried call from Barry Allen, the current Flash, wondering if Steve, Diana's daughter, has seen Kid-Flash. As the two older heroes discuss Kid-Flash's disappearance Steve sneaks off and changes into her Wonder Girl uniform to go and investigate the matter.

Back in Central City, Gorilla Grodd discusses his plans with Mirror Master and Weather Wizard. With Kid Flash, Supergirl and Robin trussed up to one of Grodd's machines, the ape explains that he plans to steal the children's powers away from them.

Wonder Girl arrives in Central City and manages to home in on the three young heroes through means that she can't explain. As she sneaks into the facility, Wonder Girl finds that Grodd has had Mirror Master arrange a set of mirrors in front of the three heroes as the Weather Wizard prepares to harness the static electricity in the room in Grodd's plan to steal the heroes' powers. After a brief argument about whom will get the powers, Supergirl reveals that she has been playing possum and destroys the mirrors.

Her victory is short lived as Grodd shoots her with a more powerful ray gun. Wonder Girl, commenting on how she almost felt the ray gun blast, takes this as her cue to reveal herself and quickly frees Robin and Kid Flash. Supergirl regains composure and the four heroes go to battle making an easy victory over the Rogues.

After the battle Wonder Girl talks about how weird it was that she found them saying that there was a weird tingling feeling that probably had something to do with Supergirl. Robin explains that it probably has something to do with the fact that the two girls were born on the same day. Taking this as fate, Wonder Girl suggests that they form a team, which Robin quickly describes as a junior Justice Society. Wonder Girl doesn't like the name, nor does Kid Flash who suggests that they are kind of a little league.

The four decide that Kid Flash is on to something and agree that their name is to be the Justice League of America. Supergirl points out that they can even use the name when they get to be adults. As the new team leaves, Robin worries about how his mother is going to react to all of this.



1975: Troubled Souls

September 24th. In a cell inside Arkham Asylum an elderly Joker sits wearing a straight jacket and laughs uncontrollably. One of the doctors tells Supergirl and Batman how the Joker has been like this ever since they transferred him from Rock Island. Batman (now BJ) asks to see the surveillance tapes from the Joker's transfer.

Meanwhile Hal Jordan is busy making his test flight of the Ferris aircraft FX-101. Jordan takes the aircraft higher towards the edgeof the atmosphere. The stress of the flight proves too much for the craft and Jordan begins to crash back to Earth.

Back in Gotham City, Barbara Gordon and Bruce Wayne pay a visit to Bab's grandfather James Gordon. Bruce and Babs chide James for talking about his death before the subject is changed to how BJ is doing.

Batman and Supergirl watch the surveillance tapes with interest. Batman comments on how the Joker is acting like there is something in the cell with him. The doctor retorts that the Joker has finally slipped over the razor's edge into insanity. Another doctor asks the doctor about the audio tape from the paddy wagon and Batman asks for a copy of the tape.

In the Batcave, the two heroes listen to the tape, which Batman has filtered through the cave's computers. Supergirl uses her super-hearing to listen and is shocked by what she hears.

The two go to Doctor Occult to get his opinion and Supergirl reveals that she heard the Joker yelling that Batman should get away from him, that he has already killed Batman. Occult asks Batman if he is the third one to bear the name which Batman finally admits to. Occult aggress that the ghost of the second Batman is haunting the Joker.

In Nanda Parbat, Chu Len asks his disciple, Deadman, what is troubling him. The former acrobat tells Chu that he feels like someone has been calling him. Chu Len informs him that no one would disrupt his meditation before Deadman is mysteriously pulled away. Deadman finds himself in Occult's office and is doubly surprised to find that Batman and Supergirl can see him. Occult informs him that all things mystical are visible in his office. Batman then tells Deadman that they need his help in a rescue mission.

With Deadman in tow, Batman and Supergirl head back to Arkham. Deadman hops into the Joker's body and is immediately disoriented by the madness inside. The Joker taunts Deadman before the ghost of Dick Grayson appears to begin his attack

Back at Ferris Aircraft, Carol Ferris tries to dissuade Hal Jordan, who survived his crash that he shouldn't step down as head test pilot in favor of a desk job. Hal explains that he is getting older and that his reaction time is off. He goes on to tell her of a meeting with a man named McMurtrey. Carol asks Hal if he will take the meeting to which Hal replies yes adding that Congressman Hal Jordan has a nice sound to it.

At Arkham the Joker starts going into convulsions as the ghost of Dick Grayson begins his assault in the Joker's mind. Inside his mind, the Joker runs from the spectral Batman. Deadman attempts to save the crown prince of crime by jumping into the mind of Batman. It only distracts Batman for a moment and Deadman retreats from the Joker's mind and tells the heroes that if something isn't done soon that the Batman will be a murderer.

At Wayne Manor, BJ and Supergirl tell Bruce about the recent events. Bruce listens and decides to visit Alfred's grave to see if the ghostly butler can help.

Back at Arkham, Batman and Supergirl watch as the doctor prepares to inject the Joker with a drug that will counteract the sedative he had previously given him. Inside the Joker's mind Dick Grayson renews his assault and nearly kills the Joker before the ghost of Alfred appears. Alfred is able to convince Dick that this is not the way and that he is ready to journey to the other side. Grayson finally agrees and the two walk into the light together.

Afterwards, the dying Joker asks to see Batman. Bruce Wayne suits up and grants the visit. The Joker asks Batman to reveal his identity since he is dying and can't tell anyone. Batman refuses saying that with as much pain as the Joker has caused he deserves nothing.

At the grave of Dick Grayson, Kara, BJ and Bruce discuss how Dick is finally at peace. Bruce explains that he feels that his father knew that he and Bruce's mother were going to die. Kara tells him he can always ask Alfred. Bruce shakes his head and tells the younger heroes that he will not be seeing Alfred anymore since in bringing Dick to the other side Alfred went there himself. With that, the three heroes leave the graveyard.

5Story - 5: It isinteresting to note that in 1964 DC premiered the Teen Titans, which is what the Justice League of America is obviously patterned after.

One of the main reasons I enjoyed the first series and am enjoying this series is that Byrne has constructed a very detailed world and taken the world of the Golden Age to its natural course. Using the story telling styles of the past six decades, Byrne has formed a world that shows what would happen if Superman, Batman and the other heroes were allowed to naturally age.

For me this is great. On one hand I, and other comic fans, want the characters we read to change but still remain somewhat the same. We want growth but not enough that it takes away the heroes we love. To go further it isn't fair to take the heroes we like away from a future generation by having the characters become older. Superman and Batman need to stay young so that kids ten; twenty and thirty years from now can pick up a Superman comic and still have them be young and immortal to a certain extent.

For those of us who would like to see what an older Superman, Batman and other heroes would be like, though, this series provides a wonderful view into that world. Byrne ditches his ten-year rule (the one that states that every ten years comic continuity starts over to account for the heroes and villains remaining young) and goes for the throat, so to speak.

In the first story, Byrne manages to provide a solid story and still maintain the charm of the DC comics from the early '60s. I mean where else but during the sixties would a bunch of kids fighting crime seem ordinary with the major problem the young heroes face being whether or not Robin will get in trouble with his Mom for disobeying her. I also liked seeing some of the Flash's Rogues Gallery, as they were the coolest villains of that era.

The introduction of Batgirl was a nice touch. I guess Byrne decided that he wasn't going to wait thirty years for a romance to bloom between Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon. The scene where the two disappear behind the couch as the clock ticks away the hours got the point across without too much detail. It's not that a love scene has no place in comic books; it's just with the innocent nature of the time period it worked well.

The subplot showing Joel Kent's corruption by Lex Luthor was also nice for those who have read the previous series. The scene shows how inadvertently Lois and Clark drove their own son away by lavishing attention on Kara.

The formation of the Justice League was an interesting play on the Teen Titans concept. Even though the original Titans were Robin, Aqualad and Kid Flash, changing it to a young Supergirl and a new Wonder Girl rounded the team out and made it fit with the universe in which Byrne had developed. Robin's reference to them being a "Junior Justice Society" was a cute reference to the original Titans being called a Junior Justice League. By not calling them the Teen Titans Byrne creates a Justice League for this world and gets rids of the clutter of a team with the word Teen in it creates down the road.

The second story played nicely on the bizarre concepts that crept into comics in the 1970s. When the Code loosened its rules in the late '60s spooky concepts were allowed back in and horror stories could be told again. Byrne takes this ball and runs with it.

The mystery of what is driving the Joker even deeper into insanity gives a fitting end to the 1969 story from the first series. Dick Grayson's death was a big shock but still worked within the context of the series. With the ghost of Dick Grayson haunting the Joker resolution is given to the death and justice is served.

Okay, justice is served only after Dick's ghost almost kills the Joker, but this gets to the heart of what makes Batman, any Batman, who he is. The story also brings resolution to the Alfred subplot from the first series. I liked the concept of Alfred still watching over Bruce after his death. It fits with the father-son relationship the two had. Alfred proves to be the greater hero by helping Dick fight the urge to kill the Joker and stain his soul for eternity. Even though he knows that it will mean he can no longer watch over Bruce, Alfred leads Dick to the other side and makes a grand sacrifice. This ending made the story rather moving, especially for a Byrne story, which doesn't often go for the "tear jerker" ending. (The death of Reed and Sue's child in Byrne's Fantastic Four run notwithstanding.)

I always like to see Doctor Occult even for a brief moment. He's a Siegel/Shuster creation and adding him to a Superman story does this fanboy's heart good. Deadman's appearance worked as well, and I thought it was neat that they showed him as a normal person before becoming the white skinned Deadman we all know and love.

The subplot that was played nicely in this story was the beginning of Hal Jordan's political career. In the 1989 story from the first series Jordan is already President and Byrne lays the seeds for that story here.

4Art - 4: As much as I like the story, Byrne's art still doesn't pack the punch it used to. This is evident in the first story. While it was cool to have different characters have different physiques I still have a problem with the way Byrne draws children, especially young girls. They seem to all have the same wide-eyed open mouthed expressions that is really clear in the young Wonder Girl. The only one who really stands out is Robin who has more than three facial expressions.

On the other hand, the redesign of Kid Flash's costume was nice. It mixed the original design (a direct copy of the Barry Allen Flash's costume) with the one that popped up in The Flash #135 (the yellow and red costume that showed off Wally's hair.) into an overall pleasing design.

Batman was, by far, the strongest character design in both stories. Byrne really nailed the character in this issue and despite cheating in certain shots, like page 33, the Dick Grayson and BJ Batman uniforms were nice. Byrne out did himself by making the Bruce Wayne Batman's uniform look completely different from the other Batmen.

The aging continues to be strong. The older Hal Jordan looks like a man ready to step down from his jet jockey position.

There were some pretty neat details in the art this issue that did elevate it from recent Byrne art. The license plate on the Batmobile in the first story was a nice little touch showing that Batman still obeyed the law and registered his car with Gotham City. What address he gave I have no idea.

I was disappointed to not see Superman in uniform the entire issue. Again the series is called Superman and Batman: Generations II and there was no Superman. Supergirl looked good, especially the older version, but nothing replaces the original.

5Cover Art - 5: Taking from the concept of the previous cover the art remains strong. The only problem with the cover is that Kid-Flash is colored like he usually was and doesn't match the inside of the comic. This could be done on purpose, of course, since Byrne has admitted that continuity boo-boos will pop up just like they did in the comics. I also enjoyed the changing Batmobiles at the bottom of the cover that has also been carried over from the previous issue to show the changes that vehicle has made over the years.


Mild Mannered Reviews

2001

Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic was on sale.

January 2001

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