Buy Now!

Mild Mannered Reviews - Specials

Superman/Batman #16

Superman/Batman #16

Scheduled to arrive in stores: December 22, 2004

Cover date: Late February 2005

Writer: Jeph Loeb
Penciller: Carlos Pacheco
Inker: Jesus Merino

"Absolute Power" - Part Three: "When Time Goes Asunder..."

Michael (George) O'Connor Reviewed by: Michael O'Connor

Superman and Batman are crawling through the wreckage of Metropolis. Somehow, they've been teleported to another dimension, another existence, and in this reality, they are no longer tyrannical rulers of the Earth. Instead, the Kryptonite meteorite has actually hit the Earth and the apes have taken over, evolved to the point that they can communicate with one another.

Superman is wounded, and it doesn't help that Kryptonite is all over the place. Batman fends off attacking apes while remembering that he should be dead - that he was killed by Wonder Woman in the last dimension. Both heroes, in fact, remember their existence as tyrants rather than their roles as heroes and protectors to their respective cities.

Just when things are getting hairy (pun intended), Kamandi, the last boy on Earth, and Tuftan, his half-man, half-tiger friend, arrive to help Superman and Batman. Tuftan gives Batman a hand up, but the Dark Knight reacts by pepper-spraying him and demanding to be left alone. Then, before any new drama can transpire, Superman and Batman are swallowed into another dimension.

Here, the two heroes are in a stand-off with bounty hunters of the Old West... but they're in modern Metropolis, and Lex Luthor is still president! This time, the roles have reversed so that Batman is wounded while Supes acts as protector. Superman obliterates the bounty hunters with his heat vision, but when he turns to help Batman, he is shot in the back with Kryptonite bullets.

Jonax Hex approaches with smoking six-shooters and plugs the Man of Steel with a few more rounds before besting a wounded Batman with a knife to the hand and then finishing off the two of them with his Native American pal, Scalphunter.

And away the two heroes go once again. This time, they are on an Earth which has been overrun by Apokoliptan technology and where Darkseid holds ultimate power. But even more peculiar are Darkseid's companions - the Demon Etrigan on a leash, and an older Superman and Metron at his side.

Darkseid explains that Lightning Lord, Saturn Queen, and Cosmic King destroyed the time stream when they attempted to put Superman and Batman in power. Consequently, if things are not fixed and the Legion of Supervillains' tampering not undone, everyone and everything on Earth will die and Darkseid will take over. The reality in which Superman and Batman now stand will become the Earth's inevitable future.

Thus, Metron and the older Superman have cut some sort of deal with Darkseid, who can send Superman and Batman back in time to stop the Legion of Supervillains. As to what that deal is, only time will tell...

Superman and Batman arrive back in Smallville, Kansas just as baby Kal-El's rocket lands in the field. The Legion of Supervillains, spotting Superman and Batman, realize that the heroes have somehow altered the time stream. The Legion must leave now or they'll cease to exist. Why this is the case is not explained.

The heroes witness Kal-El's arrival on Earth without a hitch, but when they go to witness Batman's figurative birth at the hands of the gunman who kills his parents, Batman can't stand idly by. He jumps into action, takes the man's weapon, and shoots him with it, thus saving Thomas and Martha Wayne and, in effect, "killing" himself. As Batman fades away, a young, frightened Bruce Wayne watches in terror.

And Superman stands by in shock... Batman has just doomed the Earth.

5Story - 5: Wow! Finally an issue of Superman/Batman worth some praising! Ever since the President Luthor storyline, Loeb has been pretty inconsistent in delivering the merchandise, but as this issue and the one prior have shown, his game is back on. While Part One was pretty solid as well, it had a little bit of that "been there, done that" feeling with the whole tyrant set-up we've been seeing everywhere from current issues of the Teen Titans comic book to last season's Justice League animated series. But with last issue's brutal action and this issue's time-jumping insanity, "Absolute Power" has transcended the usual and kicked into full gear. This issue really has everything you could want from a comic book; it starts with a simultaneous homage to Jack Kirby and Planet of the Apes and then progresses to some fun showdowns with Cowboys and Indians and then to another encounter with Darkseid near the end. And what a cliffhanger! Batman gunning down his parents' now-would-be killer! How cool is that? Really, what quibbles I have are minor this time around, and are as follows:

  1. Why do the Legion of Supervillains think that they won't exist if they don't get out of the past when Superman and Batman arrive? How would that happen? (and yes, thanks to all the readers who pointed out to me last time that Cosmic King, Lightning Lord, and Saturn Queen are not Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, and Saturn Girl - my profoundest apologies to the Legion of Superheroes for sullying their good names with such an accusation!)
  2. What's the deal with Darkseid? As far as I can tell, he's got a pretty sweet deal going in the future that the Legion of Supervillains brought about - he's got total dominion over Earth, and all the New Gods and Earth's heroes are dead... why would he want to cut a deal with Metron and Old Superman?
  3. And speaking of Old Superman, wouldn't he stop existing when Superman was killed the first time around (last issue)? Is he outside the time stream or from another dimension? Otherwise, how could he tell Young Superman that each possible future at that point will result in Y.S.'s gruesome demise? Isn't O.S.'s existence a testament to Superman's survival into the far future? All this time travel stuff is enough to send your brain on a little trip of its own.
Nevertheless, I found this issue so enjoyable as to justify the full 5 rating. So long as nothing is too far outside the realm of common sense and logic, I'm willing to overlook the nitty gritty in favor of a ripping good yarn.

5Art - 5: Man! Pacheco and Perino have stepped up their games too! Just look at the pages in this issue and compare them to Part One. You can tell by the layouts that Carlos has really gotten into it here and is having some fun. The fight scenes are graphic and gruesome and the sequence at the end where Batman shoots his parent's assassin is magnificent. The art team really juggles a lot of different settings and moods and does so without a single hiccup. Sunny Smallville looks as good as his gloomy Gotham City, and the talking apes and tigers look as real as the humans and superhumans. There's such a variety going on in this issue and Pacheco and Merino not only handle that challenge, they makes it look easy, too.

4Cover Art - 4: A solid cover with a very cool image, but, really, it's a bit misleading considering the book's interior, isn't it? What's Kamandi doing on the side of the apes? He's an ally, not an enemy! Otherwise, great color, motion, perspective, and character placement; I especially like how Batman and Superman are used as contrasting opposites; they share the same space, but they lean away from one another, and Batman kneels while Superman stands.

Mild Mannered Reviews


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

January 2005

February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005

Back to the Mild Mannered Reviews contents page.

Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2005.