Mild Mannered Reviews - Specials

Superman & Batman: Generations II #3

Superman & Batman: Generations II #3

Scheduled to arrive in stores: October 24, 2001

Cover date: December 2001

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

Reviewed by: Michael Bailey (Earth1Superman@aol.com)



1986: To Hunt the Hunter

Superman bursts through a wall at one of Luthor's hideouts telling him that after hunting him for seven years his time has run out. Luthor smugly informs the Man of Steel that the time for the usual good guy/bad guy banter has passed before attempting to activate a panel. Superman uses his heat-vision to fry the panel, but Luthor smiles and says that he doesn't need the panel to activate the holo-image file. The image of Joel Kent killing Kara appears, enraging Superman. His attempt to grab Luthor proves fruitless as Superman discovers that Luthor is intangible. At first he thinks that Luthor is a projection, but the faux-Luthor reveals that he is a computer simulation designed to react to whatever stimulus Superman throws out. Laughing, the projection fades away leaving Superman collapsed on the floor, incensed that Lex has gotten away from him again.

In Gotham City, Bruce Wayne, Jr., his adoptive son Clark standing in the Batcave as he prepares to go out on patrol. At first he chides the child, but Bruce soon discovers that the fault lies not with his son but with his wife, Mei Lei who brought Clark down to the cave in the hopes that it would bring Bruce to his senses. Bruce demands that Clark return to the Manor and after he does reminds Mei Lei that the boy must never know that Bruce Wayne, Jr., Batman. Before leaving, Mei Lei makes a demand of her own. She makes Bruce promise that she will not have to bury him as well.

At JLA headquarters Green Lantern (Alan Scott), the second Wonder Woman and the second Kid Flash discuss Batman's recent violent behavior, which has gotten worse since the death of his fianc Kara (Supergirl) on their wedding day. On his most recent battle with Hyena, Batman put six bystanders in the hospital and the villain still escaped. Upon hearing that they are going after Batman Kid Flash disappears to do just that. Before the other two heroes leave Wonder Woman begins to remind GL that he is older but GL finishes her thought and brings up the fact that the last person he tried to pass the ring on to refused because Hal Jordan thought he could do more good as President than as a Green Lantern. Morbidly, GL tells Wonder Woman that he will most likely end up dying in the saddle.

Meanwhile Batman tests out the new Batmobile when the police begin to give chase. After the tire busters he releases fail and a traffic jam appears before him, Batman uses the new feature that allows the vehicle to sail over the heads of some bystanders and traffic. The bystanders nearly become violent when a young man voices his displeasure of Batman and threatens an old man who disagrees with him.

Batman continues his search for Hyena when a brick wall addressed to him appears in the road. Batman exits his vehicle and discovers that the young Kid Flash put up the wall. Using her overconfidence in her powers against her and a device that throws off the perceptions of those he fights, Batman renders Kid Flash unconscious and leaves her in the Batmobile.

At her hideout, Hyena fumes that she has not had a proper battle with the Dark Knight despite her planning and studies of the great foes that have come before. Her musings change when Batman appears and makes quick work of her henchmen. Hyena attempts to escape after the situation turns against what the plans she had made but Batman manages to take her down. Before he can do anything else, a green energy cage traps Batman and GL steps forward telling the Dark Knight that his visual displacement gag will not work on him.

Using another device, which covers GL with a fine dust of wood chips (wood being the substance that his ring cannot affect) Batman knocks the older hero unconscious. Wonder Woman emerges with the unconscious form of Kid Flash in her arms. The two begin to fight and Batman scores first blood by handcuffing Wonder Woman, which negates much of her powers.

The fight continues, though, with neither fighter giving any quarter. GL comes around and shouts to Batman that enough is enough. Batman flies into a rage and begins beating GL yelling at how that what they do is never enough and that it will never bring Kara back. Kid Flash calls out that he's killing GL, which snaps Batman out of his rage. The hero leaves and returns home to find Mei Lei looking in on their son. Sobbing, the Dark Knight collapses into his wife's arms saying that he doesn't know what he means anymore.



1997: Turning Points

In the Batcave, Clark, now Robin, asks what his father is working on. Batman explains that he has built a brand new Batmobile for a brand new Batman. Robin inquires what he means and Batman explains that since he has found the man he believes to be his father's killer that he is going to leave Gotham to find him. Since Gotham cannot be without a Batman Bruce asks Clark to assume the mantle. Clark declines and tells his father that he has something to show him. Moments later Clark appears in a black and white costume and informs Bruce that he is going to take the name Knightwing.

When Bruce asks why he won't become Batman, Clark explains that he once heard his mother say that only the blood of the Waynes can become Batman. He goes on to say that he has known that Bruce was not his father for some time. Bruce and Mei Lei would speak in Vietnamese, which Clark picked up from a schoolmate. After that Bruce and Mei Lei had no secrets. Ten years ago he confronted his mother with the information and Mei Lei admitted that she and Bruce were married after the Vietnam War and after he was born. Clark puts Bruce's fears to rest by telling him that he was everything he could have wanted in a father. Then he asks his father to show him how the new toy works.

At the White House, President Barbara Gordon sits with former President Hal Jordan and his wife. President Jordan is being hunted by the evil Sinestro because he was once tapped to be Green Lantern and the current President feels the safest place for him to be was the White House despite the doubt Jordan's wife feels. Alan Scott is also with them and blames himself for Jordan's predicament since he had tried to recruit Hal to be his replacement. Hal tells him that he might as well blame the meteor that Alan had turned into the ring or Superman for meeting up with Abin Sur and introducing the two.

Alan begrudgingly agrees but still feels guilty because Sinestro is out to kill all of the Green Lantern Corps and anyone who might qualify. Hal's wife asks how that could be done since there must be many would-be candidates out there. Alan tells her no because when he first searched for a man fearless enough to wear the ring the only candidate that was chosen was Hal Jordan.

Meanwhile, Kid Flash and the man who she persuaded Alan to become to the new Green Lantern meet up during their search for Sinestro. Kyle, the new GL, tells her that he can feel Sinestro breathing down his neck. The female Blackhawk who has found no trace of Sinestro either joins them before Sinestro finally attacks.

Inside the new Batmobile Knightwing patrols the city. As traffic gets heavier, Knightwing activates the newest feature, which allows the Batmobile to fly. Before he can fully enjoy himself an explosion across town draws his attention. Arriving on the scene, Knightwing discovers the cause of the trouble is an old enemy of Batman's named Ransak. This confuses the young hero, as he had not heard that Ransak had busted out of jail. He attacks his armored foe from behind, which angers the villain who gives Knightwing a reminder of just what Ransak can do.

Meanwhile Sinestro stands over the unmoving form of Green Lantern and tells the young hero that he is a disgrace to the Corps. Blackhawk makes her move by attacking Sinestro with her sonic mace. The villain evades the weapon easily and forms a shovel with his ring, which he uses to smash Blackhawk.

As Knightwing continues his battle he questions why there is no reason to Ransak's attack. From the Phantom Zone Superman watches the battle all the while being taunted by the other inmates. The villains ask if he is still proud of his grandson now that he is losing. Superman tells them that their taunts will do no good since they have no effect on him. Quex-Ul asks why he can still have such faith in what the humans have to offer since despite the pettiness and cruelty he has witnessed. Superman informs the villain that while he is Kryptonian the Earth is his home. He also silently muses that it is his human family he has sworn to protect.

Knightwing goes on the offensive and moves Ransak into position so he can douse the armored villain with water. Thinking he has the villain beat, Knightwing tries to pry the armor open but is hit with a bioelectric shock. Knightwing is disoriented as the battle intensifies and the Ransak claims that revenge will be had for the villain's father. Knightwing realizes that the reason that he had not heard that Ransak had broken out of jail is that this Ransak is the child of the original. Ransak reveals that she is Amanda Mason, Ransak's daughter and Knightwing's executioner. Suddenly the ghostly image of Superman appears and tells her that there will be no killing today. Amanda begins to sputter and asks Superman why he is there. Knightwing uses her confusion to shock her with an electrical cable that had been knocked loose during the battle. As he opens the armor and sees that young form of Amanda inside Knightwing wonders why she suddenly started talking about Superman.

Meanwhile, an extremely banged up Kyle flies east. He realizes that he cannot handle Sinestro on his own and goes in search of the only Green Lantern left.

Back at the White House, President Gordon tells her guests that the Army and Air Force observers reported that Sinestro ambushed three members of the JLA. Suddenly Kyle comes crashing into the building. Hal goes to his side and tells the others that the new GL is in bad shape. Before they can do anything about it Sinestro appears and uses his yellow ring on Alan Scott, which he claims to be an unexpected bonus. Hal Jordan takes Kyle's ring and uses it to attack Sinestro. The two do battle with Sinestro claiming that there is no possible way for the older man to win since the ring has an impurity that makes it useless against the color yellow. Jordan tells him that he believes that there is no such impurity and that Alan Scott's weakness to wood and Kyle's weakness to yellow have more to do with the fact that they believed that those weaknesses were there. Jordan believes that all it takes is will and he tells Sinestro that he bets that his will is stronger. After a savage battle of wills, Sinestro is defeated.

On Oa, Alan Scott, Hal Jordan, Kyle and Hal's wife are before the Guardians of the Universe, freed from their confinement by Sinestro. They reveal that their lie about the weakness to yellow was due to their concern that the ring, the universe's most powerful weapon, would fall into the wrong hands. Alan asks why his weakness was wood and the Guardians reveal that the weakness was created in Alan's mind when he was knocked out from behind shortly after getting the ring. Since bullets and knives did nothing, Alan assumed that it was the wooden club that knocked him out to be the cause.

With that cleared up, the Guardians offer Hal the chance to become a Green Lantern and to help rebuild the Corps. Hal's wife is shocked that he is even considering the offer since he is seventy years old. Hal tells her that the ring can make him young again. Despite this he says that he needs to give the matter a lot of thought.

In the Phantom Zone Superman's fellow inmates are exasperated that he was able to make contact with the outside world. Superman explains the reason that they could never do that is that unlike them he entered the Phantom Zone with a full set of powers. It was those powers that allowed him to leave if only for an instant. With a smile, he finishes by saying that sometimes an instant is all it takes.

5Story - 5: By far this issue is the best in the series. It did more to develop the characters already established and had a good mix of action and drama.

While I preferred "1997," "1986" had a much better start. How can you not like a Superman story that begins with the Man of Steel bursting through a wall? I mean this is iconic. His confrontation with "Luthor" made for a powerful scene and really showcased what an evil man Luthor was. You can't get much colder than showing your enemy a hologram of his son ripping out his daughter's heart. Superman breaking down at the end of the sequence was emotional and moving.

Beyond that I really like how Byrne continues to weave a world that shows not only how the characters change over the years, but comics as well. "1986" did more to mirror the comics that were coming out at the time than the second story did but that might have more to do with the fact that 1997 was something of a dull year for DC Comics. This is not a shot against the company, but that the biggest thing to happen that year was Superman changing powers and costume. It was not the trendsetting year that 1986 which had the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths and the release of Dark Knight Returns.

Bruce Wayne Jr.'s "fall from grace" reflected the (say it with me now) "grim and gritty" tone that Frank Miller's piece had. From the bystanders Batman jumps over nearly coming to blows to the violent fight Batman has with the JLA this is a much darker story and works within the context of the story which most (say it with me now) "grim and gritty" books that came after DK and Watchmen never really pulled off. It makes sense that even Batman would have a bit of a break down after the death of his fianc on their wedding day.

I liked the characterization from the other characters as well. Mei Lei really came into her own as a character and the scene at the end where Bruce breaks down to her was powerful. I liked the new Kid Flash and was amused that the red headed girl named Carrie was a sidekick to a hero, which was a very subtle nod to Carrie Kelly, the Robin from Dark Knight. Her "Hi Batman" brick wall was a cute touch as well.

I also really enjoyed Hyena's henchmen having "Henchmen" written on their shirts. I will admit that I had no idea who Hyena was. The only clue was that her name was Karen and I am drawing a blank as far as who that could have been.

As stated while I enjoyed "1986," I enjoyed "1997" a lot more.

For one thing the beginning of the story ties nicely into Bruce Jr.'s search for his father, which happened in the first Generations mini-series. Like the previous story undefined characters from previous chapters get a chance to shine. In this case it was Knightwing, which was a nice play on the name. I liked the fact that he had figured out that Bruce was not his father previously and had kept that fact to himself and his mother. It's what you would expect from the grandson of Superman who was raised by the son of Batman. His battle with Ransak (who was the only part of the story that reflected the time in which it was set, Ransak seems like a name that would have come out of that period in comics) was fun and showed that while Knightwing was very intelligent and had experience he was also new to acting on his own.

Superman was a surprise and a delight. I liked seeing him in the Phantom Zone and interacting with his fellow inmates. Yeah it was bit deus ex machina to have him save his grandson at the end, but it was so classic that it worked. Yeah it was a bit hokey to have him suddenly have the power to leave the Zone for an instant it also worked for me and I had no problems with it.

The Green Lantern arc was good and the action was nice, but I preferred the Knightwing plot. It was nice to see Hal Jordan get offered the ring though. I also like how Byrne "explained" that the weakness the Green Lanterns had were all in their heads. It seems like a simple explanation, but it also works in terms of the story. It was an interesting angle to take.

4Art - 4: I really enjoyed the art in this issue. The "1986" story had some of Byrne's moodiest art and, like the writing, reflected the times. The inks were heavy and the colors dark and it the writing perfectly. I especially liked Green Lantern, who appeared gaunt and old. Usually when Byrne draws a frail old man they all look the same. Alan Scott was different and it made for a nice change.

I also like Superman's costume in this story. The black border around the S appealed to me in the first series and it carried over to here.

Hyena's costume was very detailed and looked very slick. Her henchmen appeared to be lifted from an episode of the Batman television series and served as a contrast to the times. Hyena wanted to fight Batman like the Joker and Two-Face did in "better" times and she didn't realize how violent Batman was.

"1997" had some really nice action sequences. The battle with Ransak was well paced and Byrne really shines here. The Knightwing costume was a cool design and much better than the Robin costume from the beginning of the story.

While I dug the costume design for Blackhawk, I have to say that I really do not care for Kyle's costume. I think it was supposed to me a modernizing of Alan's, but in the end it just looks silly. The color scheme works in the Golden Age, not in the "present." The re-design on Sinestro, however, was very nice. The armor looked a lot better than the skintight costume of old and definitely looked nicer than the costume he was given during "Emerald Twilight".

4Cover Art - 4: The cover scheme matches the previous issues. I liked it and liked the costumes and layout, but it just didn't jump out for me. I can't say I disliked it but I can't say it was my favorite either.


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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