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Superman/Batman #26

Superman/Batman #26

Scheduled to arrive in stores: June 1, 2006

Cover date: June 2006

Writer: Sam Loeb (plot), Jeph Loeb, Geoff Johns, Brian K. Vaughan, Allan Heinberg, Paul Levitz, Mark Verheiden, Richard Starkings, Brad Meltzer, Audrey Loeb, Joe Kelly, Joe Casey, Joss Whedon
Penciller: Ed Guinness, Jim Lee, Tim Sale, Pat Lee, Mike Kunkel, Duncan Rouleau, Ian Churchill, Rob Liefeld, Joe Madureira, Art Adams, Joyce Chin, Jeff Matusda, Carlos Pacheco, John Cassaday, Michael Turner
Inker: Dexter Vines, Scott Williams, Tim Sale, Pat Lee, Jesus Merino, Mike Kunkel, Duncan Rouleau, Ian Churchill, Rob Liefeld, Joe Madureira, Art Adams, Joyce Chin, Jeff Matusda, John Cassaday, Michael Turner

"The Boys are Back in Town!" and "Sam's Story"

Michael Bailey Reviewed by: Michael Bailey

Click to enlarge

Superman/Batman #26 "The Boys are Back in Town!"

Robin relates a story about Conner to the rest of the Teen Titans. Robin and Superboy were summoned by Batman and Superman to check on Hiro Okumura, also known as The Toyman, who hasn't been heard from in thirty days. Once they reach Hiro's workshop the two young heroes are faced by the first Toyman who challenges them to find his usurper in thirty minutes or the boy will die. Superboy and Robin fight through an army of robots over bizarre landscapes before supposedly dying. Hiro reveals himself and admits that he manipulated them to come to him because he was lonely. Superboy and Robin inform him that they would have come anyway and promise to return if he wants them to.

"Sam's Story"

Pa Kent reveals a story from Clark's past about a friend of his named Sam. Sam was one of the few people that could make Clark laugh. In their junior year Sam developed bone cancer. Three days after telling Clark that he was sick Sam died and soon after Clark found a note in Sam's room that he was allowed to keep. Pa believes that the words written in that note are those that Superman would live by.

5Story - 5: "The Boys are Back in Town!"

This is going to be a tough one to write.

I think we can all agree that this isn't a normal issue of Superman/Batman. In all honesty this isn't a normal comic book and in the almost five years that I have been writing reviews I have never had such a story placed before me for criticism. Not only is this a jam comic with thirteen writers and eighteen artists working on one story it is a memorial to commemorate the life of Sam Loeb. How do you look at either of these stories with any measure of objectivity?

The answer is you don't. You can't, or at least I can't. There is no way I can sit here and pick this story apart to find the problems that lie within, like the fact that Winslow Schott was referred to as Winslow Schlott. I mean I could do that (and to a certain extent I just did mostly because it was pointed out to me by a fellow Superman Homepage contributor) but for me this review isn't about that sort of assessment. It's about finding the good points of the story and celebrating the life of what was obviously a creative and affable young man.

The thing is that despite all of the cooks in the kitchen the story was very straight forward and kept a consistent tone. The best thing is that each writer not only kept their own voice but was used during the scenes that suited their styles. Brad Meltzer brought the mystery together. Geoff Johns did some great character work. Joe Kelly was... Well Joe Kelly was Joe Kelly. No one else could have written that scene and given it the offbeat humor it needed.

The best line, though, goes to Brian K. Vaughan. Having Robin point out that Conner's costume is a T-shirt was great.

At its heart, though, this was a fun story about two friends hanging out in the only way they know how; fighting robots and super-villains. I seem to remember an interview where Jeph revealed that the reason his son wanted to write this issue was that there were no books about teenage super-heroes told from the perspective of a teenager. The writers managed to capture that feeling. The banter between Robin and Superboy was great. Certain friends rip on each other. I know my friends and I do and we're all in or nearing our thirties. The revelation that the person behind all of the robots and messed up environments was Hiro wasn't unexpected but that didn't matter. The reason was sound and I thought the ending where Robin and Superboy accepted him as their friend was touching. Not as touching as the last page of the story, but touching nonetheless.

"Sam's Story"

I have to admit that I cried when I finished this story. Actually, the first time I read it I teared up and fought the urge to weep because I was in a public place and that doesn't sit well with many people, but the second time I went through the piece while writing the synopsis I did cry a bit. I feel no shame in that either.

There was a reason for this. Well actually there's more than one reason but the most important is how much I could relate to the story.

You see my mother died of cancer. She was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1991 and despite going through a complete round of chemotherapy and radiation and receiving a clean bill of health it came back in July of 1993. The cancer had metastasized into the lining of her lung. She died on December 9, 1993. I was seventeen years old.

Now I'm not trying to convince you that I know what Jeph Loeb was and is going through. There is a difference between a parent losing a child and a child losing a parent, but I can empathize with his loss. I know from my end the anger and sadness and emptiness that you can feel. If any one moment left an indelible mark on me it was the death of my mother. It has affected every major event in my life from my graduating high school to my moving to Georgia, to my wedding, and I know that it will be there to a certain extent when I have children with my wife. It gets easier but it never truly goes away.

So I cried at the end. I cried because I knew the rage that Clark felt and the sorrow. I know how cancer can totally change your outlook on life. I know what it is like to have someone in your life who makes you and those around you laugh taken away far too soon.

This was a well-written story. I can't stress that enough. Like all of the stories that Jeph and Tim work on involving Smallville and Clark's early years we got an insight into what made Clark into Superman. But it is hard to separate it from its origins.

This wasn't just a story about a young Superman. It was a story about how much a father loved his son.

There's really nothing more I can add to that.

5Art - 5: "The Boys are Back in Town!"

As with the writing the art work on this issue was amazing. What made the differing art styles mesh was the fact that the setting kept changing. Those artists that I recognized did some of the best work I've seen from them and there was obviously a lot of love put into the work. Jim Lee and Scott Williams' two page spread was amazing. Ed McGuinness and Dexter Vines' opening page hit all of the emotional beats. It was neat seeing Ian Churchill ink his own pencils. Even Rob Liefeld's page looked great. I have virtually no complaints about the art in this story.

"Sam's Story"

Tim Sale is an amazing artist. His past work on such characters as Superman, Batman, Spider-Man and the Hulk has impressed me. This story was no exception. Sale nailed the characterization. Like the writing it gave me as the reader a sense of who these characters were as people. I saw the sadness and joy and I thought that in the end it was a fitting tribute.

4Cover Art - 5 (both): Michael Turner turned in two great covers. The first one with Superboy and Robin cast against a yellow background was a jazzy piece of art. You could see that the characters were having fun, which foreshadowed the banter and fun of the first story.

The alternate cover was a total contrast to the previous cover. This cover screams sadness and loss. It was moving to see Robin stand there clutching Conner's shirt with a black background. Turner put into one image the sorrow Robin is feeling and did it well. Again, there isn't much more that I can add to that.

Mild Mannered Reviews


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

January 2006

February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006

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