Buy Now!

Mild Mannered Reviews - Specials

Superman/Batman #18

Superman/Batman #18

Scheduled to arrive in stores: April 6, 2005

Cover date: April 2005

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

"Absolute Power" - Part Five: "Thy Will Be Done..."

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

Click to enlarge

Superman, Batman, and the resurrected Justice League - Aquaman, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, and the Flash - attack the Legion of Supervillains, Ra's al Ghul, and two newcomers to the conflict: Beauty Blaze and Echo.

At first, the heroes seem to be holding the advantage. Aquaman wrestling Beauty Blaze down, Green Lantern putting a lid on Echo's powerful scream, Martian Manhunter tossing around Saturn Queen, and the Flash smashing through Lightning Lord's electrical body. Even Bruce Wayne, dressed as the Batman but with none of the combat skills or reflexes, is holding his own against Ra's al Ghul. But then it all turns around very quickly. Cosmic King sends Superman to his knees by changing the iron in his blood to Kryptonite, Ra's draws first blood against the Dark Knight, and Flash gets electrocuted, Green Lantern blown apart, Martian Manhunter mind-raped, and Aquaman fish-fried.

Superman breaks Cosmic King's arms and tries to save Batman from al Ghul's fatal sword thrust. The Man of Steel intercepts the blade himself, however, and the kryptonite blade cuts straight through him.

Batman then pulls the sword from Superman's body and beheads Ra's. And with the blade removed, Superman recovers.

The Legion of Supervillains realize that with Ra's dead, they are now abnormalities in the present time stream and must flee before they disappear altogether. Superman and Batman aim to stop them for good, though, and put an end to all the dimension and time stream hopping.

The World's Finest team makes short work of the three villains, knocking them out before taking Darkseid's boom tube to the place where Cosmic King, Lightning Lord, and Saturn Queen first stole a Legion Time Bubble that allowed them to travel to the past and change it in their favor - the 31st Century. Turning the three villains over to the adult Legion, Superman and Batman then return to their own time, but as the time stream corrects itself, the adult Legion ceases to exist.

Back in their own times, everything is the same again, except that Superman and Batman can't shake the memories of what they've done in other times and dimensions. Superman is haunted by thoughts of killing Green Arrow and Wonder Woman, and Batman recalls the details of his parents and their murder even more clearly than before.

Elsewhen... the future Superman and his world change from post-apocalyptic to the storybook "happily ever after" of Alan Moore's seminal "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?"

3Story - 3: Chapters 2 and 3 of "Absolute Power" were so good that I was looking forward to the sort of Loeb masterpiece that would rank up, if not alongside his "Long Halloween" or "For All Seasons," then at least with his first Superman/Batman storyline, "World's Finest." Instead, much like his "Supergirl of Krypton" run, this ending is anti-climactic, and many nagging questions from previous issues (as well as new ones from this issue) are left unanswered. And though the implications of the story are intriguing - that Batman and Superman are haunted by the memories of what they've done in other times and circumstances - will Superman's guilt over his killing of Wonder Woman or Green Arrow really manifest itself in any real way in future issues of the DCU? I doubt it.

The problem is that whenever you muck around with the time stream, there is a lot of fun story potential, but rarely do things ever make any sense in the end, and if the goal is to return things to the way they were when the story started, then what was the point of it all? Was it simply a set-up to Infinite Crisis? To hint at how the entire DCU's post-Crisis vs. pre-Crisis vs. Kingdom Come will resolve themselves? If so, I'm just more confused than ever before, and I don't even particularly care. Whenever the writers try to make continuity adhere to 60 years worth of comics, they inevitably make it even more convoluted and complicated.

In this issue, there are hints that Loeb is trying to do the same thing: a panel where Superman is holding a dead pre-Crisis Supergirl, a panel where the adult Legion mysteriously disappears, and the ending, though a nice nod to the last pre-Crisis Superman story (Alan Moore's "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?"), really causes a mess. Is that a post-Crisis Superman that would have existed had Superman and Batman remained rulers or is it the Kingdom Come Superman, who now ceases to exist because everything's returning to pre-Crisis, or is it a combination of the two?

As for the particular nit-picks of this issue, there are a few. I have a hard time believing that Bruce Wayne, without his Batman training, could take on Ra's al Ghul and the Legion of Supervillains. That's a pretty big stretch. So is the whole notion that after being run through with a Kryptonite sword, Superman would be fine and dandy after it was pulled out again. I don't think so. If that wouldn't kill Supes, it would certainly leave him incapacitated and very weak for a while. And what the heck were Beauty Blaze and Echo doing there? That was certainly random. And Superman breaking Cosmic King's arms? Yeesh. That's a little harsh. Didn't he reform himself two issues ago, after Jonathan and Martha Kent were saved from the evil Legion? I can almost buy Batman decapitating Ra's, because he's not really back to being Batman yet, but Supes goes a little overboard on Cosmic King. All of this adds up to me scratching my head a lot while reading. If Loeb wants to recapture past magic, he's got to write stories that make some modicum of sense and don't raise too many more questions than he can successfully answer... oh, and if DC could manage to get these issues out on time, that would help too!

4Art - 4: Beautiful stuff. Really, really good. I hear Pacheco's going to be doing Green Lantern, which should make a lot of GL fans very happy. While not every page is brilliant, there are a few here that really stand out. Superman getting the kryptonite blade in the chest comes quickly to mind as does the two-page spread of Supes and Bats reliving their pasts. Really tremendous.

Apparently Ivan Reis added his talents to this book, but he does a good job of blending in with Pacheco's style. If I had to guess, I'd say that he might have done the page where Bats decapitates Ra's, but I'm not entirely sure. Maybe the second page with the adult Legion? The Wonder Woman in the Watchtower scene? Those are the only pages that look slightly off Pacheco's modeling.

Regardless, this is some solid work, and I'm looking forward to seeing more of both Pacheco and inker Merino in the future.

4Cover Art - 4: Nice, action-packed cover with some great coloring and postures. Batman looks a little frightened, but he should be, considering that he doesn't have any training to take on both Saturn Queen and Cosmic King. "Hey, Supes! How about you pull your weight?"

A Final Word:

Superman/Batman #18 will be my final review for the Superman Homepage, and I know what you're thinking. "Who the hell is this guy?" Many of the newer visitors to this site will be largely unfamiliar with me, as my recent contributions have been relatively minor; I've been reviewing every other issue of Superman/Batman and was reviewing Justice League Unlimited on a monthly basis. My last review for JLU was #6.

However, back in the day, I was a frequent contributor to the page. I've been here since late 1996, which, if it doesn't make me the longest remaining contributor except for Steve Younis himself, it makes me one of a proud few. I started out by reviewing some of the first issues of Superman Adventures and, since then, I've contributed well over 150 comic book reviews for the Superman Homepage, covering everything from the regular monthly Superman issues to maxi-series, mini-series, annuals, and specials. If '96 seems a long time ago, here's a few things that have happened since then: the marriage of Clark and Lois, the return to the bottle city of Kandor (whatever happened to Scorn?), the birth of Lena Luthor, Blue-perman, followed by Red Superman, the Millennium Giants, Dominus and Kismet, Superman becoming King of the World, Brainiac's Y2K, Emperor Joker... brings back a few memories, huh?

Some of my other work at the Superman Homepage involved reviewing the four Superman movies and the Supergirl film with my step-father, Wally Harrington. I would also assist Steve on some minor features like the Super-Trivia Quiz, occasional articles, and some of the other games and activities that first premiered on the site many years ago. Over the past few years, however, as my responsibilities in the real world have increased, I've had to scale back on my participation.

Now, I'll be leaving the website for good, but I wanted to thank everyone and anyone that has ever taken the time to write me and discuss one of the reviews I've posted. For almost nine years, it's been my pleasure to talk with other fans, to have communications with some of the creators of the books, and, in general, to be a part of the Super-community over the fast evolving Internet. As my work will remain in the archives of the website, I encourage anyone that wants to write in with a comment, criticism, or just to say "hi" to simply look me up and send me an e-mail. I'm especially curious to hear from anyone that has been around since '96.

Best of luck to all of you and a thanks to Steve Younis for allowing me to come aboard all those years ago and contribute to such a worthy tribute to the Man of Steel.

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.