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Mild Mannered Reviews - Specials

Superman/Batman: Generations 3 #2

Superman/Batman: Generations 3 #2

Scheduled to arrive in stores: February 12, 2003

Cover date: April 2003

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

"Century 21: Doomsday Minus One"

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



Metropolis 2025.

As Knightwing introduces his daughters, Lois and Lara, to the world as Supergirl Red and Supergirl Blue, their mother, Doctor Wayne, arrives for her session with the brain of Luthor, only to discover that he has escaped. In the ventilation duct, Luthor scurries along making his escape utilizing the mechanical legs provided to him by his mysterious benefactors. Once Luthor reaches the end of the duct he uses the rocket pack inside the contraption to leave and meet with his benefactors.

Across town Omac, the One Man Army Corps, tells Brother Eye, the satellite system orbiting the Earth, that all he sees is a storage facility and asks if he is sure of the readings. Brother Eye replies that he is.

In Smallville, Superman and Batman meet and discuss the strange premonitions that Superman has been feeling. Batman informs his old friend that he must be wrong about the premonition and goes on to ask how it is to be back in Smallville after all these years. Superman is surprised at how the skyline was beginning to match how it looked on his first trip to the 30th Century. Batman mentions how funny it was that the Legion of Super-Heroes never came to visit after 1925. Superman concurs, adding that he was always too busy to go and see them. The tingling in the back of Superman's head returns as they arrive at the fully restored Kent farm house.

Superman remembers when it was a half hour ride to Smallville and that it was funny to think the invasion happened practically on his own doorstep. Batman asks what invasion he is talking about leading Superman to wonder why he said that. Batman points out the fact that there were a few times over the past century that he made passing references to that day when they took part in those military maneuvers as if there was more going on at the time than they knew. Superman tells him that there has to be and since his x-ray vision can't sort out all of the junk buried out there he is going to go and dig up that field

Back in Metropolis as Luthor's brain reaches where his benefactors are hidden Knightwing flies along with his daughters across the city. Lara and Lois are appreciative that they were able to reveal themselves and Knightwing points out that it was actually their mother's idea that they were ready.

In Smallville Batman and Superman discover the bodies of hundreds of Parademons from the planet Apokolips hidden under the field. Batman is confused since Darkseid and his ilk didn't start operating on Earth until the '70s. Superman tells Batman that they started in the '70s only so far as they knew. Since the "New Gods" were thousands of years old it is quite possible that they had come to Earth before anyone knew about it. Superman wonders if it isn't time for him to visit New Genesis and find some answers.

On New Genesis Lightray asks High Father why he seems ill at ease. High Father responds that he senses something and that the Source is greatly troubled that day. He goes on to say that they must commune with the Source to find out what is wrong. Lightray is doubtful of this since the Source has always been so cryptic. When they arrive, the Hand's burning fingers write, "Guards against tomorrow... Guard against the dark side...," on the flaming wall. High Father tells Lightray that they must seek out the meaning of this warning for it might be the work of Darkseid. Lightray wonders how that could be since Darkseid is gone. High Father replies that is what they hoped but despite the fact that the ancient prophesy had been fulfilled and Darkseid taken by the Black Racer he is still uneasy. Suddenly Metron arrives explaining that he too has felt the dark energies that trouble the Source and that he knows where they were born.

As Superman asks Green Lantern to help him get to New Genesis at a meeting with the JLA Omac comes upon the Parademons and attacks. Luthor mentions that Omac fights like a one man army. The head Parademon agrees and tells him that they have encountered Omac before though the meeting has not happened yet.

Meanwhile, Knightwing informs his wife that it isn't her fault that Luthor escaped and that she did the best she could in trying to reform him. Doctor Wayne agrees, but adds that she hates to see a great mind like Luthor's wasted. Lara points that it wasn't even Luthor's brain, but the Ultra-Humanite's. The girls then suggest that they should be looking for Luthor and Knightwing aggress but adds that they should be careful, stick together and not to do anything until he gets there.

As Omac battles on, Lara and Lois come upon the scene and join in the battle. As Omac and the Super twins press on, Luthor exposes the girls to Kryptonite. While the Kryptonite doesn't kill the girls, it does hurt them and bring them to their knees.

At JLA Headquarters, Green Lantern has constructed a Boom Tube with his ring. GL is not sure it will work since it can't be tested. Flash asks why Batman and Superman don't remember the Parademons in 1925. Batman replies that he has been asking himself the same question and he believes their minds have been tampered with. Blackhawk asks who had the power to pull off that kind of mental zap. Superman relies that no one in the present can and that is one more question he'll have for High Father and the rest of the New Gods.

Back at Luthor's hideout Omac demand that he stop hurting the girls. Luthor reveals that he has deduced Omac's secret and cuts off the connection with Brother Eye and Omac reverts back to the young Billy Blank. The head Parademon commends Luthor on a job well done and tells him to complete the final stages and within minutes victory will be theirs.

Over Apokolips, Lightray and Metron sense a disturbance as Superman appears. Superman asks if they are a welcoming committee. The two replies no as Superman notice that the Fire Pits of Apokolips have been extinguished. Before Superman can find out what happened Metron tells them to look towards Apokolips. The planet begins to transform into something else as the three men rush back to New Genesis. Both Metron and High Father concur that the energies are like nothing they have ever seen. Metron points out that it is if they do not exist. High Father tells him that they do not and that they are not of this plane or reality. Superman informs the group that the device is generating some kind of field and the former planet disappears into a Boom Tube.

In Metropolis Knightwing feels as though someone not only stepped on his grave but that of the entire family of El going back a thousand centuries on Krypton. The sound of the transonic whistles the girls had been sending out brings him back to his mission and Knightwing breaks into where the Parademons had been hiding out. Luthor hits him with the Kryptonite as the head Parademon orders his men to activate the temporal displacement field. His men inform him that the displacement vectors have not been calibrated and that they will be transported to the original grid coordinates. They go on to explain that the shift energy suppressor has not been set and that we will not announce our arrival to all within a thousand miles. Their leader says that it couldn't possibly matter one hundred years in the past.

As the girls revive Knightwing asks what is going on. Lois tells her father that Luthor has something cooked up with the aliens. Luthor enlightens the girl that it is only the most important something in recorded history and that this is the day the Earth ends.

3Story - 3: I really wanted to like this story better than I did. It wasn't a bad comic. It had a lot of action and excitement. It was full of characters from the previous "Generations" series. It added to the little world John Byrne created by introducing new characters and it had Superman and Batman together, which we really didn't see a lot of in the previous stories as the two characters were involved in their own little concerns and were brought together only as the story warranted it.

The good parts of the story were really good. John Byrne certainly showed his Kirby roots in this issue by not only bringing the New Gods into the mix but introducing Omac into the continuity around the time he was running around in his own series (if I am remembering the timeline right, I've never read the Omac stuff, either Kirby's or John Byrne's four issue prestige series but always wanted to). Omac was used to good effect within the story and Byrne has always done well with the New Gods characters, so there were no complaints there. I enjoyed Byrne's runs on the various Fourth World books he did and the inter-play between Lightray and Metron was good and pointed towards the opinion some of the New Gods had towards Metron.

I enjoyed Lois and Lara. Byrne seems to be having a lot of fun extending the Superman lineage or so it would seem. There was a nice Silver Age nod by calling them Supergirl Red and Supergirl Blue and in the format of having Knightwing introducing them to the world just as the original Superman did with Supergirl. I have to admit that having them mention that they could be called Red and Blue was a good decision considering what a mouthful the full names were.

The return of the Ultra-Humanite/Luthor was also enjoyable. It was kind of odd seeing this little brain run around encased in a little suit that allowed him to do pretty much anything. There was some good characterization with him too. The thought balloons where he muses on how it's good to be moving at all after all those years in a jar and his problems with being referred to as Luthor pointed towards the bitterness the character felt and the hatred he felt for the Superman clan.

There were some problems with the story. The rather frantic pace of the story left characterization behind for many characters. A lot happened in this comic and it moved from scene to scene quickly, sometimes on the same page. This worked well in the first issue because the action took place in relatively the same place. Except for the scenes at Wayne Manor all of the action took place in Smallville, so jumping from scene to scene worked. Here we go from Metropolis to New Genesis to wherever JLA headquarters is in quick succession. The great thing about the previous "Generations" series was the fact that the books were split up into two parts and you got two complete stories per issue. For some reason it felt like I got more of a story out of one of the stories in "Generations" 1 and 2 than I did with this whole comic.

This led into a second problem. There were a lot of characters in this issue compared to the previous installment. We had the New Gods (including High Father and Lightray), Metron, Omac, Brother Eye (for all of one panel), Lois and Lara, Knightwing and his wife, Superman, Batman, Blackhawk, Flash, Green Lantern, the Parademons and Luthor. This left very little time to get to know any of these characters. Now I realize that in the case of this series the emphasis may not be on the characters but on the plot, in which case characterization kind of takes a back seat. There's nothing wrong with that style of story telling, it's just not my cup of tea for the most part.

In the end I didn't hate this issue and still feel that John Byrne is a very capable writer. This installment just didn't do all that much for me. I am, however, looking forward to the next installment and I have the sneaking suspicion that when read as a whole this series will go down better than when read month to month.

4Art - 4: The artwork, unlike the story, was pretty solid overall. Byrne has somewhat of a minimalist style these days but still manages to pull off some detail here and there to remind us that he can still design a page that both tells a story and is exciting and action packed at the same time.

The good of the art was definitely in the costume designs. At first I was turned off by the costumes for Lois and Lara, but as the issue went along they grew on me to the point that at the end I really liked them. The contrasting the color of the cape with that of the gloves and boots was an excellent design and the black one piece covered by the giant S, along with the masks separated these costumes from the previous costume characters named Supergirl wore.

Byrne threw himself into the Kirby characters. There was a lot of detail in the armor of the Parademons. The aging of Lightray and High Father fit well into the "Generations" concept of taking the continuity a step further. Omac was a very dynamic looking character and always seemed to be in motion. The scene with the Source writing with its flaming hand was exciting and Byrne certainly managed to pull of that cosmic feeling that Kirby did so well with the only exception being the final page of the comic, which I'm assuming is the craft they are in making the time jump to 1925. The artwork and dialogue wasn't clear on that.

I really like to see Byrne's Batman and Superman. He draws them in such an iconic style. My only concern with Superman is that he is much leaner than Byrne used to draw him. Now this could be a change of style or it could be that Byrne is trying to carry over the lean style of Curt Swan and the various artists who drew the character in the '40s. It's a personal thing, but I really enjoyed how Byrne drew Superman and made him broad shouldered with a barrel chest. It made Superman seem bigger than life and was a great departure from Curt Swan.

Where the artwork suffered was something I've always disliked about Byrne's artwork. For some reason, outside of Kitty Pryde, I have rarely liked the way any of Byrne young characters looked. While I liked Lois and Lara's costumes they look like every other young person Byrne puts out. At least with Lois and Lara you could tell they were young women. Any younger and the gender line gets a little blurry with some of Byrne's artwork.

The only other area was the fact that if it didn't involve Superman or the Kirby characters Byrne seemed to put less detail in the art. The first page was a prime example of this. The swooping lines were interesting, but the detail of the faces was off. This was also evident on the last page where, as stated, things weren't all that clear.

Overall I enjoyed the art. There was a lot of fun stuff thrown in and the layouts were appealing to the eye and did well to carry the story along.

3Cover Art - 3: Well, I liked the cover better than issue one's but not by much. I don't know. It seems that Byrne threw himself so much into the interior art that maybe the cover was overlooked. The detail of the cover was fine, it's just the overall layout lacked the intensity that a cover like this should. Superman was done very well, as was Lightray, but Metron lacked detail, but that was probably because he was so far in the background. I'm hoping that the covers of the future installments go back to the level of quality that Byrne usually puts into his covers.


Mild Mannered Reviews

2003

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

January 2003

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