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Superman/Batman #29

Superman/Batman #29

Scheduled to arrive in stores: August 30, 2006

Cover date: October 2006

Writer: Mark Verheiden
Penciller: Ethan Van Sciver
Inker: Ethan Van Sciver

"The Enemies Among Us" - Part 2

Michael Bailey Reviewed by: Michael Bailey

Click to enlarge

The Martian Manhunter pays Batman a visit but is greeted by a cautious Dark Knight dousing him with fire. Batman didn't want to take the chance that it was his mysterious adversary who had previously assumed the Manhunter's form. The Manhunter is still upset and refuses to help Batman with his problem.

In the San Francisco branch of S.T.A.R. Labs John Stewart has his ring checked out. Something is off about the ring and the incident with Parallax has taught him the consequences of becoming complacent. Suddenly a giant green construct breaks through the roof and a mammoth fist knocks John and the technician that was helping him unconscious.

At the Daily Planet in Metropolis Lois enters Clark's office and begins acting strange. Lois feels a tap on her shoulder and the real Lois Lane strikes the imposter. Before Lois and Clark can do much of anything the shape shifter assumes the form of a caveman with Kryptonian abilities. Clark makes a quick change and takes the battle outside. Hal Jordan arrives and gives Superman a hand, even leading him to a facility out in the desert near Edwards Air Force base where the government has been holding alien prisoners.

Once Hal and Superman reach their destination Batman chides the Man of Steel for being late. Superman is confused, but that is short lived as Jordan suddenly attacks the two heroes. Batman is knocked deeper into the installation and fights a former foe of the Green Lantern. Meanwhile Superman takes on Jordan and the two battles find each other. Jordan realizes that the problem is with the ring and takes it off.

Superman, Green Lantern and Batman begin to piece things together. Suddenly Kilowog attacks. He begins to rant about how both Stewart and Jordan crossed him and adds that this is the last time because when they defy the ring they defy Kilowog.

4Story - 4: It's interesting to see how Verheiden is pacing this story. On the surface this issue was a series of conflicts and throw downs between heroes and villains (and sometime heroes and heroes) but despite the mayhem the plot moved along. Sure it didn't take a giant leap forward, but at the same time I can't say that it is dragging or becoming dull.

The mystery deepens as the Green Lanterns get involved. While we didn't get to see John, Hal and especially Kilowog at their heroic best they fit nicely into the story. John Stewart's comments on the reasons he was getting his ring looked at were interesting and tied neatly into the events from Green Lantern: Rebirth. It makes sense that John would want to get things checked out given what happened with Parallax. I personally enjoyed the fact that Hal kind of came out of his mind control on his own. It plays nicely into the reemergence of him as one of the strongest of the Corps. Sure Batman grabs him and acts like, well, Batman but Hal is the one to take the ring off. I don't know if Verheiden did this on purpose but even if he didn't I liked how my perception of the event read.

Another highlight was the fake Lois Lane. As he did in the last issue Verheiden uses a certain level of misdirection to throw his audience off guard. When the Silver Age, pillbox hat wearing Lois shows up I had to admit a moment of, "Huh?" Then the real Lois shows up and dukes the shape changing villain and everything becomes clear. Still, it was that one second of confusion that made the scene work.

This issue also had Superman fighting a super powered cave man. Part of me wants to scream, "Throwback!" but somehow it works and feeds into the Silver Age feel this issue had.

Plus, it's Superman fighting a cave man over the skies of Metropolis. This isn't something I thought I would see in a modern comic book.

Batman gets another chance to play the gritty, justifiably paranoid character from the past twenty years. There has been a lot of talk from the likes of Grant Morrison and Paul Dini about how they are going to play up Bruce Wayne a bit more and not so much lighten things up as take the stick out of Batman's rectum. Frankly I can't argue with this. I may not want Batman to go back to the days where he was willing to pop for doughnuts after a tough mission but I also believe that certain writers and editors were going a bit too far.

Despite this I have to say that given the situation this characterization works. Batman has been attacked in his own home and he doesn't want to take the chance that something like that can happen again. He fries J'onn, which not only made for a dramatic opening but also led to a sense that something was wrong with the aliens living on Earth. His later scenes also have a twinge of the Pre-Infinite Crisis Batman with the mistrust he feels towards Hal Jordan and his general arrogance towards Superman worrying about him. It's not that I dislike this take because it serves the story, but at the same time I thought that we'd moved past this.

In any case I thought that the fun, popcorn movie feel continued into this issue. This isn't a bad thing. It made for an entertaining comic book and Verheiden is giving us an exciting Superman/Batman story. I still don't know where this story is heading and I still don't want to know until it happens. Like I mentioned in my review for the last issue I just want to sit back and let the story unfold without trying to second guess the writer.

It's difficult, but I am committed to doing it.

4Art - 4: The all out action would not have come off as well as it did without Ethan Van Sciver's artwork. His art made the far out concepts that Verheiden developed work. From the opening scene where Batman uses a flame thrower on J'onn (though there is something almost amusing Batman in those goggles) to the previously mentioned Superman fighting a super powered cave man to the intense confrontation between Superman and Green Lantern (loved the multiple fists tenderizing Superman like he was a side of beef instead of a Man of Steel) the art was exciting and a lot of fun.

Three images stand out for me, though, the first of which is the split screen effect as the story transitioned from Batman's perspective to Superman's. It was a neat image and a great way to go from one character to another. The second is Lois Lane in the pill box hat. She stood out from the rest of the characters, which I realize was the point and should have been the clue that this wasn't the real Lois. Still, this image gave me that moment of confusion that I enjoyed so much. Finally, there's the iconic, shirt ripping scene. I may think that Van Sciver's version of the S symbol is a tad on the large side but he sold this image, which I, as a Superman fan, never get tired of seeing.

You could almost hear the music. The art was that good.

4Cover Art - 4: I enjoyed this cover a heck of a lot more than the previous one. It had a bit more control than last month's. Van Sciver focused on four characters in all out combat, which gives the piece a lot of energy. I liked the little 3-D effect that Van Sciver gave to the Green Lantern symbols, especially as they hovered above Hal's arm. This was a really nice cover and hopefully the next few months will be just as good.

Mild Mannered Reviews


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

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