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Mild Mannered Reviews - Superman/Batman

Superman/Batman Annual #5

Superman/Batman Annual #5

Scheduled to arrive in stores: April 6, 2011

Cover date: June 2011

"Reign of Doomsday" - Part 5: "No Exit!"

Writer: James Robinson
Penciller: Miguel Sepulveda
Inker: Miguel Sepulveda

Michael Bailey Reviewed by: Michael Bailey

Click to enlarge

Starman and a Blue Lantern named Saint Walker are outside of the Watchtower discussing the fact that Doomsday is inside and that even though Supergirl is in there too this a very bad thing. Saint Walker detects an energy drain that he cannot find the source of. Inside the Cyborg Superman reforms and thinks about the fact that all he wants to do is die but before he does he is going to defeat Doomsday. Outside Walker and Starman see the face of the Cyborg form on the side of the Watchtower and suddenly they have their answer to what is causing the energy drain.

Inside the Cyborg Superman, Supergirl and Batman battle against Doomsday. The Cyborg is confused as to why he is fighting Doomsday but continues to do so. Supergirl starts to feel weak and Batman has her fly the two of them to the sick bay. Turns out that the JLA sick bay is kind of a panic room that seals off from the rest of the tower in case of an emergency. Supergirl asks why she felt so weak and Batman explains that there are contingency plans in place to handle certain kinds of attacks. Supergirl was hit by a dose of synthetic magic and as long as she stays in the sick bay she will be fine. Suddenly Cyborg Superman and Doomsday crash through the sick bay as their fight continues through the Watchtower. Batman tells Supergirl to stay behind as he chases after them. Cyborg Superman does not want to give up because he feels if he can defeat Doomsday he will be a better man than Superman. The sick bay's computers do a scan of Supergirl and reveal that the darkness inside of her is going to prove fatal.

Batman reaches the Arena level, which is halfway where he needs to be. Unfortunately the Cyborg's meddling with the Watchtower's system allowed lethal force to be used in the arena and suddenly a whole gaggle of holographic Batman villains attack. Supergirl continues to get scanned as the Cyborg believes he has defeated Doomsday. Unfortunately Doomsday has gotten the better of him, assumes a Cyborg from and overwrites the Cyborg's influence on the Watchtower.

Meanwhile Batman fights through the holograms to get back to Cyborg Superman and Doomsday. A holographic Dr. Mid-Nite scans Supergirl and cannot find out why she is dying. She activates a holographic Dr. Fate who informs her that the darkness within her is something she needs to fight through. As Batman is about to be killed a back in her regular, non-black costumed Supergirl busts in and enters the melee. She drives the creature back but Cyborg Superman can't accept the fact that she might beat Doomsday and tries to attack but Batman stops him. This distraction gives Doomsday the upper hand and he disappears with both Cyborg Superman and Supergirl. Saint Walker tracks them to the other side of the sun where New Krypton used to be.

5Story - 5: I am REALLY liking "Reign of Doomsday".

This surprised me because I have been such a cynical SOB for the last few years. Every once in a while a story would come along that made me smile but not like "Reign of Doomsday". The STEEL special was fan-freaking-tastic and I more or less enjoyed the OUTSIDERS and JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA chapters. It was really neat to see a group of writers re-visit the "Reign of the Supermen" era characters (except for Supergirl, who wasn't there) and what was better is that so far no one is dumping on it. "Reign of Doomsday" seems to be a love letter to that event, which is cool beyond belief.

This annual was a lot of fun. Sure it read like a chapter to a larger story, which means if you were only collecting SUPERMAN/BATMAN you might have been a little confused. I was glad that I decided to read the previous chapters because if I had opened this book without doing so I would have felt like I was pushed into the deep end without any warning. So while I have been enjoying the story so far and liked this chapter of it "No Exit!" does not read well on its own.

And that, my friends, is the only real problem I had with this annual. While I haven't like most of James Robinson's more recent DC work I couldn't find anything to complain about in this issue. The various internal monologues were very well done and made this feel like a SUPERMAN/BATMAN story. It took until the end of the issue for me to realize that is what he was doing but when I realized that is what he was going for I really liked it. Sure I think that storytelling tool has been overused in this title, but it worked for me here for some reason. I also really liked the Cyborg and his reasons for wanting to destroy Doomsday. This plays off of how he was treated during the "Sinestro Corps War" and Robinson seemed to be having fun with the character. The fact that he reformed the outside of the Watchtower with his own face was neat and led to a great moment when Doomsday changed it once again. Part of me said I shouldn't have liked that but I can't help myself. It's like I am 17 years old again reading "Reign of the Supermen".

By far my favorite aspect of this annual was Robinson's treatment of Supergirl. I had no idea why she was in the (very awesome) Black Kryptonite outfit but there was just enough exposition to catch me up on this without bogging down the narrative. The scene where the holographic Dr. Fate (which is a little silly to type but it is what it is) basically tells Supergirl that she needs to get over it but in a flowery, Dr. Fate sort of way. This led to that awesome moment where she busts in and takes on Doomsday with her costume returned to its normal color scheme. I totally bought into this scene; hook, line and sinker.

You want to know the best part about this annual and the story as a whole? I have yet to get that feeling I usually do that Doomsday is being overused. For a while there he or clones of him would show up with such frequency that the character started to lose a lot of what made him unique. Doomsday was the creature that killed Superman. That is significant and should carry with it a, "Holy crud!" feeling whenever you see him and because he kept showing up and showing up he lost that. This story returned Doomsday to his former glory and that is awesome sauce.

All in all I really enjoyed this annual. It didn't re-tell a classic Silver Age story nor did it give us a new spin on an old character or tie into the BATMAN BEYOND television series but it was a great ride like all of those stories were. I cannot believe the smile that was one my face as I was reading this story. Recently I have come back to the Superman titles after a nine month hiatus and my hope is that we continue to get stories like this and when I write that I don't mean I want to see the same types of stories or the same exact characters I read growing up. What I mean is a real sense of excitement and an action packed story that doesn't have gratuitous sex and violence in it.

Bottom line; this annual was fun, "Reign of Doomsday" is fun and that is all about some awesome right there, I tell you what.

3Art - 3: The one element of this story that gave me any kind of real trouble was the art. It wasn't bad by any means. There were parts that were downright cool but Sepulveda's style was a little too scratchy for my tastes. On the other hand the page layouts were solid and the storytelling was clear, so I can't complain too much.

4Cover Art - 4: This is a fantastic cover. The Cyborg image in the back is great and the action is intense. I especially liked Supergirl blasting Doomsday with her heat vision.

Mild Mannered Reviews


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

January 2011

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