Mild Mannered Reviews - Specials
Superman & Batman: Generations II #1Scheduled to arrive in stores: August 1, 2001
Cover date: October 2001
Writer: John Byrne
Penciller: John Byrne
Inker: John Byrne
Reviewed by: Michael Bailey (Room101Comics@aol.com)
The first tale begins in 1942 behind enemy lines in occupied France. Hawkman and the Blackhawks are in the process of taking on a giant Nazi robot. Hawkman attempts to take out the robot with his mace, which has been hollowed out and filled with explosives. Inside another robot, the leader of the Nazi troops is informed that Hawkman has thrown the mace and figures out the hero's plan. Ordering his men to fire the cannon, the mace detonates prematurely and the explosion knocks Hawkman to the ground and takes the robot's arm off.
With the Blackhawks watching, Hawkman plummets from the sky only to be saved by his Justice Society teammate Green Lantern. The maneuver exhausts Lantern's ring charge and there is still one robot to take down. As Lantern charges his ring, the Spectre appears and grows to the size of the robot. To distract him, the Nazi leader orders his men to launch a missile at a nearby civilian hospital.
The Blackhawks fly into action as Chuck, the American of the group, uses his plane as a shield. The missile rips the plane in half and Chuck begins to plummet to the ground. With the Spectre holding off the robot, Hawkman still dazed and Green Lantern's ring not fully charged the heroes watch helplessly as Chuck begins to crash. Blackhawk orders Chuck to bail out, but Chuck refuses because the plane would crash into the hospital if he didn't guide it to the ground. Dying a hero, Chuck crashes into the ground.
Before the heroes can mourn, Superman makes his appearance. The Spectre and Superman make quick work of the robot and after capturing the Nazis inside they demand to know where the leader is. Suddenly an escape rocket roars out of the robot and Superman takes off in pursuit while the Spectre pushes the robot to the ground.
Superman catches up to the pod and rips it open to confront the Nazi leader only to be pushed back by Kryptonite. The Nazi explains that Superman is an alien and that he had spent some time tracking down where the Man of Steel had come from. The leader had found the rock and the proof of Superman's extraterrestrial origins was in the weakness he now felt. Before escaping, the Nazi tells Superman to look into his eyes and Superman realizes that the Nazi leader was in fact the Ultra-Humanite.
Meanwhile on Themyscira, Princess Diana informs her mother of her final decision to leave the island with the man who had recently crashed there and assume the role of Wonder Woman.
Six hours later in Gotham City, Lois Lane breaks into a building and discovers the plans to the robot that the Justice Society battled. Before she can do anything about her discovery Lex Luthor and his thugs discover her. Luthor has designed the robot with his superior intellect not caring which side won World War II so long as he is the engineer of the victory.
In France, Green Lantern locates the buried Superman and the rest of the Justice Society join him. After a quick burial and service for Chuck, the two teams take leave of each other with separate battles to fight.
Back in Gotham Luthor has had his men tie Lois up and stick her on a crate. Before leaving, one of his goons lights a fuse leading to a stash of dynamite in another crate. After Luthor and his men leave Lois observes that the fuse has gone out.
Luthor and goons head back to location Y when the Batmobile suddenly gives chase. While his men panic Luthor moves into action throwing a smoke bomb at the vehicle. The Batmobile swerves and crashes. Thinking that the crash will only serve to slow Batman down, Luthor orders his men to get to their headquarters so they can collect their money and hostage and leave town.
At Site Y, Robin regains consciousness and gets himself out of the ropes that Luthor's henchman tied him up with. Pushing thoughts of how he came to be in his present situation out of his mind, Robin hides and watches as Luthor and company return. Launching into battle, Robin takes out both henchmen as Luthor prepares to fire a ray gun. One of the goons calls out for Robin to use maneuver 347 and the Boy Wonder takes Luthor down.
After Luthor is secured Robin realizes that the goon had used Batman's voice. Batman takes off his disguise and tells Robin that he had been Luthor's henchman all along. Batman apologizes that he couldn't have let Robin in on the plan sooner but he couldn't risk Luthor using a truth serum on him. The two leave with Luthor and his other henchman lying unconscious.
One week later in Metropolis Lois is upset at the news from the Justice Society that the Ultra-Humanite is back. Clark shares her concerns but is cut off by Lois asking about his Army induction. Kent explains that he failed the eye-exam. In reality he had gotten too eager and read the eye chart in the next room with his x-ray vision. Lois quips that it's for the best because with Clark's clumsiness he would make the war last twice as long. With a wink and a smile, Clark agrees.
"1953: Absent Friends"
The second tale begins over a decade later in the winter of 1953. An anxious pounding on the front door of Wayne Manor sends Alfred to answer it. When he opens the door, the disheveled form of Commissioner Gordon falls in. Summoning Bruce Wayne, Gordon is brought to a couch and explains that he needs Batman. To preserve his true identity Bruce plays dumb on how to reach Batman only to have Gordon tell him that he knows that Bruce Wayne is Batman. Finally Bruce admits the fact and Gordon tells him that he needs Batman because of something he found since he left Gotham and was presumed dead. That something is the Head of the Demon.
At Justice Society headquarters Batman explains recent events to Hawkman, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Atom and Wonder Girl. Lantern suggests that they should check it out, but Wonder Girl points out how difficult that would be since their ranks are reduced the way they are. Arrow makes a snide comment on how Wonder Girl is simply a movie of Wonder Woman, which prompts Batman to split the possible fight up by explaining that they all know that Wonder Girl is a magical projection created by Wonder Woman's mother.
The JSA goes on to discuss what to do about the Head of the Demon and decide that there is not much they can do at that time. They speculate the Ra's Ah Ghul could be the Ultra-Humanite. The thought sends a shiver through the team and reaffirms their resolve to fill out the JSA ranks with younger heroes.
Meanwhile, Wonder Woman, in her identity of Diana Trevor, is in the hospital awaiting the birth of her child. A doctor comes to check on her and she informs the doctor and Etta Candy, who has been staying by Diana's side, that she is worried about her husband, Steve Trevor, whom she hasn't heard from in thirty-six hours. She also explains that she has had a bad feeling since he started flying combat missions again.
In the Delta Vega system, Superman finds himself powerless under the red sun of the system and a slave to the world he came to seeking a cancer cure. The other slaves look to him for help. Taking three of the work detail he is on, Superman leads the slaves to the interstellar radio antenna to put his escape plan into effect.
Back in Metropolis, Lois Kent is also in the hospital awaiting the birth of her and Clark's second child. While talking to her doctor and waiting for word from her husband Jimmy Olsen and his wife Lucy show up with Joel, Lois and Clark's son. Joel is wondering when Lois will be coming home and she tells him that his sister will arrive soon. The doctor wonders how she can be so sure that it will be a girl and Lois silently muses how Clark used his x-ray vision to find out in addition to the pendant she is wearing to ensure the baby won't develop powers. Jimmy leaves telling Lois that he will see if there is any word of Clark at the Planet.
As Batman investigates how Gordon was able to escape from the Demon's Head, Superman and the other slaves reach the radio tower and fire it up. The transmission draws the attention of Abin Sur, the Green Lantern of that space sector. The masters of the slaves begin to attack and Superman causes the room they are hiding to cave-in to provide cover. As the slaves wonder how they will escape, Abin Sur frees them. After discovering that Superman is a Kryptonian he begins to free the slaves. While Green Lantern does his duty, Wonder Girl flies into North Korea and discovers the wreckage of Steve Trevor's plane. She also finds Steve barely alive and flies him to Paradise Island.
Meanwhile Superman and Green Lantern arrive on Earth and pay a visit to Alan Scott as both Wonder Woman and Lois Lane go into labor. Lois has a girl and after speaking with Abin Sur and Alan Scott Superman finally goes to join her. Clark shows up at the hospital and apologizes for not getting there sooner. The new parents discuss how Kara Kent will wear the pendant Lois had been wearing until she can use her powers wisely.
Wonder Girl informs Wonder Woman that Steve died en route to Paradise Island. Wonder Woman thanks her and tells Wonder Girl and Etta Candy to leave her alone with her daughter. Four days later, the Justice Society, in their civilian identities, attend Steve Trevor's funeral.
Story - 4: I find it somewhat difficult to remain impartial on a John Byrne Superman comic. It was Byrne's Superman that first got me into comics and remains one of my favorites to this day. I'll give it a shot though.
First let me say that I really enjoyed the first Generations mini-series. It was an interesting look at not only Superman and Batman but at how comicbook stories have evolved over the years. Generations II continues along this vein and builds upon it.
I thought I was going to have a problem with the introduction of the Justice Society into the story. I was expecting to see more of Batman and Superman, but the way Byrne fits them into the story works just fine. In the first series we had gotten a brief glimpse of the JSA and the first story of this series has the group in its glory days (if a horrific world war can be considered glorious), which was okay by me. I'm a serious JSA junkie. The first story was much better than the second. Byrne really nails the time period in which he is writing. This is a Golden-Age story complete with Nazis and giant robots. The Superman portion of the story was wall-to-wall action and was paced very well. Superman's entrance was especially good with him busting in and taking care of business.
The JSA's role in the story was cool as well. I thought it was a little weak that it took a certain amount of time for Green Lantern's ring to fully charge. It makes sense within the context of the story because if Hawkman was out of it and the Spectre was busy it would have been too easy for GL to save the day and this would have weakened the death of Chuck from the Blackhawks. It was a noble, heroic death and somewhat moving.
The way Chuck sacrificed his life was very realistic. Having talked to people who are pilots I've learned that if they are going to crash that they will ride the plane down and sacrifice their lives in order to save the lives of anyone who could be killed in the crash. While dying by blocking a missile launched from a giant Nazi robot may be far-fetched, the actions taken were not and I thought this was one of the better parts of the story.
The Batman story was good as well if not a little unnerving. It was a pretty standard Batman tale for the time period if not for the appearances of Lois Lane and Lex Luthor. Robin played the role of Boy Hostage, the bad guy (Luthor) underestimated Batman by not seeing that he was disguised as a henchman and there was some good fisticuffs and teamwork. It was especially funny when the disguised Batman called out a maneuver number. It harkened back to the era when Batman and Robin trained constantly with all kinds of fighting maneuvers.
The scary part of this story was the fact that Batman purposefully kept Robin in the dark about the plan just in case he was captured and injected with truth serum. On one hand it shows how prepared Batman was. On the other hand it shows how Machiavellian Batman was even in those days because having read some Batman stories from that era this is pretty much how things went. It's not unnerving that he did it; it's just the smile on his face when he explained the plan.
I didn't enjoy the second story as much. The story itself was pretty good; it's just that it went all over the place. One minute we're at Wayne Manor, then we're with the Justice Society, then we're in space, then we're with Lois Lane and so on. I realize that Byrne may be trying to ape the style of the time, but it made for some hard reading.
The introduction of Abin Sur was interesting, however. It fits too since Hal Jordan was not Green Lantern in 1953.
There were some nice little subplots introduced in both stories. The 1942 story carried over a plot from the first mini-series where it was revealed that Lex Luthor was actually the Ultra-Humanite. It seems that Ultra's body was damaged and he had his brain transferred into Lex Luthor's body. Something got screwed up in the process and Ultra was stuck in Lex's body. This is why Ultra is wearing a mask in the story. My only question here is how can Superman have recognized Ultra's eyes and not seen them in Luthor's? This is something I hope gets resolved.
In the second story Batman begins his investigation into Ra's Al Ghul. In the first series Bruce Wayne quit being Batman to hunt Ra's down. I'm wondering if this is something else that will be explored in the series.
Overall I liked the issue and am looking forward to the next issue.
Art - 4: I hate to say this but I don't enjoy Byrne's art as much as I used to. The man has a good sense of action, but his figure work leaves something to be desired. I'm not Byrne bashing here, but the man has three male figures (ripped, skinny and old), three female figures (fat, beautiful and old) and interchangeable kids depending on the hair. He does a better job on this story than he has in the past.
My main problem is that Byrne's pencils used to be really tight and with the way he has worked in the past several years he does the layouts and moves immediately to inks. My problem with this is it takes away some of the detail that his work has when Terry Austin or Karl Kesel was inking him. Despite this I found myself really liking the Superman of the series. He's a bit thinner than the way Byrne usually draws the character and echoes the Superman of 1942 and 1953. His Batman was good as well. My favorite had to be the Spectre, though. The strings hanging from the cape was a nice touch.
There are some little touches as well. The tired look on Lois' face after giving birth in the second story was good. The Etta Candy was straight from the Golden Age and the aging of the characters was handled well. Mostly they simply gray the hair and add a few age lines. The balding Jimmy Olsen was great.
Cover Art - 5: The cover had a good layout that mixed all the characters in an eye pleasing way. Over all the cover was a real nice one.
Mild Mannered Reviews
2001Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic was on sale.
-  Superman #164
-  Lex 2000
-  Adventures of Superman #586
-  Superman: The Man of Steel #108
-  Action Comics #773
- JLA #49
- JLA: A League of One
- JLA: Act of God #1
-  Superman #165
-  Adventures of Superman #587
-  Superman: The Man of Steel #109
-  Action Comics #774
- JLA #50
- JLA: Seven Caskets
- JLA versus Predator
- Justice Leagues: JL? #1
- JLA: Act of God #2
-  Superman #166
-  Adventures of Superman #588
-  Superman: The Man of Steel #110
-  Action Comics #775
- President Luthor: Secret Files and Origins #1
- JLA: Act of God #3
- Justice Leagues: Justice League of Aliens #1
- Justice Leagues: JLA #1
-  Superman #167
-  Adventures of Superman #589
-  Superman: The Man of Steel #111
-  Action Comics #776
- JLA #51
- Legends of the DC Universe #39
- Superboy's Legion #1
-  Superman #168
-  Adventures of Superman #590
-  Superman: The Man of Steel #112
-  Action Comics #777
- Superman Adventures #55
- JLA #52
- Superboy's Legion #2
- JLA: Black Baptism #1
- Batman: Gotham Adventures #36
-  Superman #169
-  Adventures of Superman #591
-  Superman: The Man of Steel #113
-  Action Comics #778
- Superman Adventures #56
- JLA #53
-  Superman #170
-  Adventures of Superman #592
-  Superman: The Man of Steel #114
-  Action Comics #779
- Superman Adventures #57
- JLA #54
- JLA: Incarnations #1
- Super Friends! Trade Paperback
- Superman: Where Is Thy Sting?
-  Superman #171
- Green Lantern: Our Worlds At War #1
-  Adventures of Superman #593
-  Superman: The Man of Steel #115
-  Action Comics #780
- Superman: Our Worlds At War: Secret Files and Origins #1
- Superman Adventures #58
- JLA #55
- JLA: Incarnations #2
-  Superman #172
-  Adventures of Superman #594
-  Superman: The Man of Steel #116
-  Action Comics #781
- JLA: Our Worlds At War #1
- JSA: Our Worlds At War #1
- Superman Adventures #59
- JLA #56
- JLA: Incarnations #3
-  Superman #173
-  Adventures of Superman #595
-  Superman: The Man of Steel #117
-  Action Comics #782
- World's Finest: Our Worlds At War #1
- Superman Adventures #60
- JLA #57
- Superman & Batman: Generations II #1
- JLA: Incarnations #4
-  Superman #174
-  Adventures of Superman #596
-  Superman: The Man of Steel #118
-  Action Comics #783
- Superman Adventures #61
- JLA #58
- Superman & Batman: Generations II #2
- JLA: Incarnations #5
- Joker: Last Laugh #1
- Joker: Last Laugh (Secret Files & Origins) #1
- Joker: Last Laugh #2
-  Superman #175
- Joker: Last Laugh #3
-  Adventures of Superman #597
- Joker: Last Laugh #4
-  Superman: The Man of Steel #119
- Joker: Last Laugh #5
-  Action Comics #784
- Superman Adventures #62
- JLA #59
- JLA: Gatekeeper #1
- Superman & Batman: Generations II #3
- JLA: Incarnations #6
Back to the Mild Mannered Reviews contents page.
Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2001.