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Mild Mannered Reviews - Superman/Batman

Superman/Batman #83

Superman/Batman #83

Scheduled to arrive in stores: April 20, 2011

Cover date: June 2011

"Sorcerer Kings - Part 3"

Writer: Cullen Bunn
Penciller: ChrisCross
Inker: Marc Deering

Michael Bailey Reviewed by: Michael Bailey

Click to enlarge

The future.

Batman and Scream Queen lead Superman to the Hall of Doom, which serves as the headquarters for that era's Justice League. Superman is introduced to the rest of the League, which includes Traci 13, Arthur Curry, Jason Blood, Stanley, his Monster and Klarion. Klarion and Batman argue over Klarion and that eras Superman's decision to send that Man of Steel to the past. Jason points out that Klarion couldn't have known what was going to happen. Batman counters that he could have because he was there.

The present.

Batman asks Klarion if the path they have been following for hours will lead them to the Witch's Highway. Klarion talks in circles but eventually reveals that they have been walking the Witch's Highway for some time and just ahead is the First Wellspring of Magic. Batman looks to where Klarion is pointing and sees not only Brother Blood, Morgan Le Fay, Blackbriar Thorn and Felix Faust but the massive army they have managed to assemble.

The future.

The future League tells Superman how his future self was convinced that if he could back in time he could save the world. There is some argument about this before Aquaman brings up what happened to Lois. Apparently their adversaries finally managed to kill her and that is why the future Superman went to the past. Batman explains that the time to strike is now not only because of Superman and the new powers he possesses but also because the League's spies claim that their enemies are about to strike. Traci 13 explains that time is still fluid as it tries to correct itself after the future Superman went to the past. In a way it is waiting to see which side wins.

The present.

Batman and the Shadow Pact fight against the massive army that Brother Blood, Morgan Le Fay, Blackbriar Thorn and Felix Faust have assembled. The heroes seem to be doing well. Batman even manages to kick Felix Faust in the face. Suddenly a giant tentacle monster flashes into existence.

The future.

Jason Blood tells Superman that they think the sorcerers sent the monster back to hedge their bets and it did a fairly spectacular job doing so. Batman puts on his cowl and explains that they are going to stop the villains in the here and now before they have a chance to send the creature back. With a smile Batman asks Superman if he is ready to remake the world.

4Story - 4: I mentioned in the review for the previous issue of this title that I may have been too hard on the first chapter and that feeling continued into this issue. I am not the biggest fan of magic based stories but Cullen Bunn makes it work somehow and adds the further complication of time travel. A time traveling, magic based story seems like it should give me one whopper of a headache and yet I am not only entertained but engaged by the story.

The strength of this installment of "Sorcerer Kings" was the way the narrative kept switching from the past to the present. Not only did it keep the two levels of the story moving along at a good clip they intertwined in some really neat ways. Seeing a despondent Klarion in the future compared to the mirthful Klarion of the present was kind of neat and went a long way to make me actually like the character for the first time ever. I also dug how Bunn let us see the fight at the end, which turned into a flashback on the very last page. I really liked that. It was a cool narrative trick that gave the fight an added dimension.

With the exception of Traci 13 I liked the team that Bunn put together for the future, magical Justice League. I like Jason Blood and Bunn's take on Aquaman was interesting. Bunn really won me over with Stanley and his Monster though. I am not the biggest fan of the goofier Silver Age characters but I've liked the concept of Stanley and his Monster since seeing their WHO'S WHO entry back in the early nineties. A kid and his pet monster. What's not to love? As for Traci 13 I can't say for sure what I don't like about the character. It is probably one of those irrational dislikes that strikes me from time to time. The character just doesn't grab me.

This might seem random, but I continue to love the fact that I get to see Dr. Occult in this title. Despite the previously mentioned dislike for magic based stories I could really go for a Superman/Dr. Occult mini-series or special. Nothing like seeing two of Jerry and Joe's kids getting together to put a big ol' smile on my face.

The one element of this chapter that really grabbed me was the fact that the future Superman went back in time in an effort to save Lois. Part me agrees with Batman and especially Aquaman on this one. Why is Lois more important than the people of Atlantis? It sucks but the thing about being a hero is that eventually the needs of the many do, as Spock said, outweigh the needs of the few. Here's the thing though; I would do the same thing and that is why this part of the story resonated with me so much. Superman loves Lois. He loves her more than life itself and I can relate to the idea of loving a woman so much that you would do anything to bring her back if she was gone. Is it the right thing to do? In the long run probably not and it ended up costing the future Superman his life. At the same time I can't condemn the Man of Steel on this one.

There is one thing about this story that troubles me, though. I am worried that at the end of this arc the heroes in the future are going to succeed and the dark, depressing distopia where the Justice League hangs out in the Hall of Doom never happens which means the future Superman never comes to the past which means that anything that the protagonists learn during the course of the story will never have happened. I could be wrong here. Bunn could have a completely different ending in mind. I'm just worried that this might be the case and suddenly it is SUPERMAN & BATMAN: GENERATIONS III all over again.

Despite this I look forward to seeing how this story plays out. I may not have liked the beginning and I may end up not liking the end but for the moment the middle is going down just fine.

5Art - 5: The art was INCREDIBLE in this issue.

Superman looked great. Batman looked great. The Hall of Doom looked impossibly awesome. The action scenes were neat and the storytelling was crystal clear. ChrisCross really stepped up in this issue and it made me enjoy the story even more.

4Cover Art - 4: While I haven't been enjoying the past covers to this storyline I really dug this one. Superman looks great even with the sword. Superman and weapons don't really go together but here it looks awesome, as does a dragon-riding Batman.

Dragon-riding Batman.

Sounds like an action figure from around 1996.

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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