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Superman/Batman: Generations III #9

Superman/Batman: Generations III #9

Scheduled to arrive in stores: September 10, 2003

Cover date: November 2003

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

"Century 27: A Soldier's Story"

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



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In Earth orbit Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Lara, members of the Green Lantern Corps and other heroes battle the invading forces of Darkseid's newly created Parademons. The Parademons are confused as they were informed that their presence would be a surprise, but once again their arrival seems to have been anticipated. On the flagship they begin to abandon ship to take the battle to the planet below. One soldier asks if commander is coming. His commander replies that he must remain behind to operate the transporter adding that they should fight as they were taught and for the glory of Darkseid. After that the ship is destroyed.

On a neighboring ship Skars is informed that he is now in command and his men are wondering what to do. He replies that they will do what they remain to do and orders all weapons systems to one hundred percent. He follows that with an order to prepare the Helix for immediate operation, adding that they must make another time jump while they still have the ships to do it with.

Below, the troops who had been transported find themselves under heavy fire. One soldier reveals that they have lost contact with the fleet. Another Parademon prays that they made the time jump before they were wiped out and urges his fellow soldiers to fight on and fight well.

While the battle rages one soldier becomes separated from his unit. After dodging explosions he finds a small, primitive house. As he approaches a blind woman comes out and senses the soldier's presence. She leads him inside after discovering he is injured and begins to assist him. The Parademon doesn't understand the concept of helping, which makes the woman sad. She tells him that she heard explosions and asks if there is a battle going on and if he is a soldier. She also wonders if he can take his helmet off. He replies yes.

As the blind woman runs her hands along the rough skin of his face she asks who he is and where he was born. He explains that he came into awareness in the breeder vats of his master as one of thousands created to serve the cause. On the first day he and the others were issued their battle armor and great Darkseid himself told them of what was to be their mission.

The woman says that even she has heard of Darkseid, but is confused since Superman said that Darkseid was dead. The Parademon begins by telling her of a day many hundreds of cycles past during what some believed to be the last war between Apokolips and New Genesis when Orion and Darkseid fought in the blazing light of the Fire-Pits. Both father and son suffered terrible wounds, but Orion fared better and seemed to be the victor until Darkseid summoned unto himself all of the power that lay within the planet. To counter this Orion called forth the last dregs of his Astro-Force and the two clashed, releasing energies greater than had been seen since the Source called forth all from nothing.

Afterwards the gods of New Genesis walked the surface of the shattered world of Apokolips and judged that father and son had perished in the battle. As they left, Desaad, Granny Goodness, Kanto and Virmin Vundabar emerged as the only four survivors of Apokolips. Desaad reveals that despite appearances of defeat measures had been taken to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Skeptical the three dark gods follow Desaad into the literal heart of the planet and showed them the machines that had been designed to cheat the outcome of his last battle with Orion.

The blind woman interrupts the Parademon's tale to mention that he speaks very well for a Parademon and asks if all of his kind can communicate as well as he can. He replies that he tells the tale as it was told to him and the words he speaks were imprinted into his brain. He continues his tale with the revelation that Desaad had gathered the very essence of Darkseid and called it together despite the fact that it had been scattered wide upon the winds of the cosmos. Eventually Vundabar became impatient and activated the final measures before Desaad felt that the time was right. Darkseid was revived, but took some time before he was back to his old self. Finally Darkseid emerged from his coma and took control of his few followers.

His first act was the creation of a new kind of Parademon. Unlike other Parademons this new breed had the ability to use independent thought and reason. This new Parademon could think. After they were perfected Darkseid addresses his troops and tells them their orders. They are to use the Time Helix to strike deeper and deeper into the past. If they are defeated they are to move further back to strike when their enemies are weaker and when the attack is unexpected.

The blind woman is taken aback at the revelation that the Parademons are not mindless drones. The Parademon confirms this and the woman begins to rant about how it changes everything. She says that the whole battle plan has been based on the Parademons being mindless and that no one would fight with the ruthlessness needed if they knew the truth. She wraps her hands around the Parademons head and breaks his neck saying that no one will know the truth.

A mother box begins to ping and the woman apologizes knowing that the Parademon's death was not part of the plan. The mother box helped her lull him into a false sense of security with the blind woman faade. The mother box reveals the woman's true form, that of Lara great-granddaughter of Superman.

As Superman and his forces wrap up the battle Lara flies in. The crowd is curious as to what she was able to uncover. She tells them that she found out what they already knew. The Parademons are coming from the future and striking into the past. Superman asks if she had discovered anything else and Lara lies and says no.

Meanwhile, Lana Lang and Lois Lane feel that the Time Bubble begin to slow down. Lana asks if Lois had done anything to cause this. Lois replies that she doesn't know anything more about the Bubble since the ride started ten minutes ago. Lana feels that they have definitely leveled off and it feels as if they are sinking. Lois believes they are landing and notices that the Bubble is turning clear. A futuristic landscape appears before them and Lois says that she doesn't think they're in Kansas anymore.

4Story - 4: My gut tells me that the best thing to do is completely avoid the issue of Lara killing the Parademon. This is a political mind field and frankly I haven't made up my mind about it. I mean on one hand there is the theory that heroes don't kill. On the other hand sometimes in war steps must be taken to ensure victory. So I am going to avoid that subject all together. So without the philosophical implications and forgetting the fact that you would think that Darkseid would program his soldiers to not spill their guts to the first blind woman who asked, this is a pretty solid entry into the series and an almost touching story when you consider the Parademon's position.

My first impression was that Byrne was being very fair as a writer by giving us the other side's perspective. While you could look at this story as just a simple recap of previous issues with the addition of some new information, I think there was more to it than that. While we found out Darkseid's plot last issue it was kind of neat to see how Darkseid "died" to begin with. This plays into Byrne's near-reverence to Kirby by finally having of the Orion/Darkseid battle that had been prophesized come fruition, even an Elseworlds version.

The thing that struck me about this issue was that I actually kind of felt bad for the Parademon. I mean he has no power over what he was created to do. He was a soldier, born and bred to fight for a cause that is not his own. Despite the fact that he was given free will it was only so that he could think and adapt during combat. Between the process used to create him and what I'm guessing is Granny Goodness'"loving" touch this guy had no choice in the matter. Draw your conclusions and parallels where you want, John Byrne has produced an old fashioned war comic, which fits with my theory that in addition to expanding his universe Byrne is trying to echo comic genres of the past.

And I liked it. Even though I felt the issue had a rushed, thrown together quality I did like it.

In the end there is a lot to look forward to. I am wondering if Byrne is going to explore the ramifications of Lara's actions. Agree with it or not, there has to be some kind of response to what happened. Between that and hopefully finding out what will happen to Lana and Lois I am getting kind of jazzed about this series again. Hopefully the next three issues will lead to a satisfying conclusion.

4Art - 4: Think big. Think Jack Kirby.

Those words kept running through my mind as I read this issue. John Byrne really showed his Kirby roots here. Unlike past issues this comic had a lot of splash panels that showed complicated machinery and scenery. There was a scratchy quality to some of the pages that normally would annoy me, but especially with the Orion/Darkseid battle I kind of dug it. There were some particularly solid panels as well, such as the shot of Superman on page three. The only thing that the image suffered from was some lousy coloring, but it could have been a lighting trick.

Despite this I had two problems with this issue. As with the writing the art felt hurried. I don't know if this was a deadline problem or mid maxi-series lag the big shots were nice but had a feeling that they were done to get the issue out faster. I could be wrong, but that's how I feel.

My second problem was the coloring effect on page four. While the computer effects were pretty cool in previous issues this panel stood out. It reminded me of the SILVER SURFER animated series from a few years back where the computer backgrounds stood out against the traditional animation. It was distracting and so was this panel.

Still and all I can't complain too much. Not every issue can be perfect and it would be unfair to expect that. My theory is that this issue was rushed so John would have more time to spend on the final chapters,

Then again I've always been a glass half full type of reader.

5Cover Art - 5: This was the best cover so far. The composition was dead perfect and it had a really dark feeling that I enjoyed. The Parademon to the right looming over the old blind woman with Superman and Batman watching over the scene makes for a great cover. There was an eerie feeling to the shadowed Man of Steel and Dark Knight that added to my enjoyment of the cover. Overall the best so far and it sets a higher standard for the quality of the covers.


Mild Mannered Reviews

2003

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

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