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Mild Mannered Reviews - "Batman/Superman" Comics

Batman/Superman #1 Batman/Superman #1

Batman/Superman #1

Scheduled to arrive in stores: June 26, 2013

Cover date: August 2013

"Cross World"

Writer: Greg Pak
Penciller: Jae Lee & Ben Oliver
Inker: June Chung & Daniel Brown

Reviewed by: Michael J. Petty

Click to enlarge

Superman Unchained - Chapter #1 Superman Unchained - Chapter #1 Years ago in Gotham City, a young Clark Kent, who is only a reporter for Metropolis' Daily Star, walks the streets seeing the filth and corruption that is Gotham. Close by, Bruce Wayne, owner of Wayne Enterprises and Gotham's resident "rich boy," watches in disguise as a couple of bullies beat on a kid, hoping that the kid will fight back. Clark arrives on the scene to break up the fight, only to get nasty remarks from the boy he was trying to save. Clark tells Bruce that he knows who he is and informs him about the mysterious deaths of three Wayne Enterprises employees who have been murdered in Metropolis over the last eight hours. Bruce walks away, pretending to be drunk, and shrugs Clark off, holding back the fact that he cares.

That night in Metropolis, Catwoman appears and attacks WayneTech Board member Ralph Mangubat in his apartment with his daughter watching. Trying to activate experimental WayneTech to defend himself, Batman crashes through the window to fight Catwoman, who he thinks is acting strange, and save the man and his child. Batman takes control over the WayneTech robots and tells them to "catch the cat". Just then, Superman crashes through the wall and attacks. Superman tears the robots apart and then faces Batman, who is barely holding his own. Batman throws an explosive batarang at Superman, causing him to fly out of the building and crash to the ground. Looking down on Superman, an entity removes itself from Catwoman's body and sets itself right in between Batman and Superman, which results in them teleporting away, leaving Catwoman wondering why she's in Metropolis.

Immediately after being teleported, Superman finds himself in the sky and falling to Smallville below. Getting back on his feet, he notices Batman in front of him and lunges to attack. Batman tells his suit to shield up and a green bubble of Kryptonite surrounds him, saving himself from Superman's blow. Superman, not understanding what is going on and how Batman knows him, starts to fall to the ground as Batman holds him up. Superman grabs Batman's suit and takes the Kryptonite out, throwing it into the air. Batman says that he was going to disarm it and Superman immediately proceeds to beat on Batman. Holding Batman by the throat, Superman is astonished to find Jonathan Kent, alive.

Superman Unchained - Chapter #1 4Story - 4: One of the things that I was most upset about when news of the New 52 and its titles was announced was that Superman/Batman was no longer a book that I could buy on a monthly basis. Granted, after "The Search for Kryptonite" story arc by Michael Green, Mike Johnson, and Shane Davis the book became less consistent and not as good, but it was still a book that I loved to see on the shelf. Even when Kal-El was living on New Krypton and Bruce Wayne was thought dead, the "World's Finest" book that starred the Superman and Batman-families, as well as Superman and Batman (then Dick Grayson) eventually, was still a pretty solid four-issue mini-series. Bottom line is, I have always loved the World's Finest superhero team, so when news that the New 52's "World's Finest" book would only star the side-kicks of the Earth-2 counterparts to my favorite superhero team-up (the Huntress and Power Girl for those who aren't "in-the-loop"), I was a little more than disappointed.

So imagine my excitement when I heard that my two favorite comic book characters, my favorite superhero team-up, were getting their own book once again, I was stoked! Now, I was a bit sad that the title was changed from Superman/Batman to Batman/Superman, but it doesn't bug me as much as it probably does a few of my fellow Homepage writers, as this is the SUPERMAN Homepage. But let me re-assure all you listeners, or in this case, readers, this: I am as much a Batman fan as I am a Superman fan. There, I said it! Now I can be burned at the stake... But seriously though, I was a Batman fan before I was even a Superman fan. Since becoming a Superman fan, people have asked me most of my life to choose between them, and I just can't. It won't happen. So, again, imagine my excitement when I got the Homepage Staff email from Steve saying that he needed a writer on Batman/Superman. I think about 30 seconds after he sent that email I sent in my reply. Superman/Batman: Public Enemies is one of my all-time favorite comic book stories out there. It just is. I grew up on that story. Jeph Loeb's interpretation of the "World's Finest" superheroes has stuck with me most of my life in one way or another.

But I'm not here to talk about Superman/Batman; I'm here to talk about Batman/Superman. Not much difference, right? Or is there... Well, first of all, let's talk about the timeline of this first arc of Batman/Superman before we go any deeper. Batman is established. He has his normal New 52 uniform (but with a smaller bat-symbol oddly enough), and people know him. Catwoman is also around and Batman has dealt with her several times. There is no mention of Robin, so I'm assuming that he is not around yet, but for the record there is no mention of Alfred either, so I could be wrong. Bruce Wayne is owner/head of Wayne Enterprises so clearly this story takes place AFTER the events of Batman: Zero Year which started in Batman #0 and has picked up again recently in Batman #21. We also know that Superman is in his Grant Morrison's Action Comics uniform where he's wearing a blue "S" T-Shirt with a red cape and jeans. That being said, his parents ARE dead and as Clark Kent he works for the Daily Star. This is obviously before the events of Action Comics, in particular Action Comics #7 where he gets the New 52 Superman suit.

As stated by DC Comics, Greg Pak, and numerous other people, this story is the FIRST New 52 meeting of Batman and Superman and takes place BEFORE the events of Justice League: Origin, which starts in Justice League #1 and goes on through Justice League #6.

Confused yet?

I've lost count of how many times I have read and re-read Justice League: Origin all the way through. I know a lot of people have been wondering how it is possible for this story in Batman/Superman to take place before Justice League #1 and to be quite honest, it works. Between this sentence and the last, I just re-read Justice League issues #1 and #2, and as it turns out, Superman seems familiar with Batman, and vice-versa. Superman may ask Batman "who are you?" in their confrontation, but moments before he calls him Batman, seemingly knowing what tricks are up his sleeve. I'm not saying that it fits WELL, but it does fit.

But enough explanation, enough reminiscing, enough of all of that, you guys are here to hear what I have to say about Batman/Superman #1 and I'm going to tell you.

I liked it.

I did not love it.

Batman/Superman is off to a good start, much like Superman/Batman's first issue, the problem is that it made us think too much. I know Marc Pritchard, who will hopefully not mind me using him as an example, doesn't like it as much (as said in his most recent Smallville: Season 11 review) when the writer of a book makes the reader think to try and make something fit. Usually I don't mind as much, in fact I usually find it a fun challenge, but here it was a bit much. I took a whole paragraph or two of this review just explaining how and why it fits into the New 52 continuity! Don't get me wrong, it doesn't bother me enough to the point where I didn't enjoy the story, as it definitely got me wanting more next month, but it did bother me.

I liked the Bruce Wayne/Clark Kent interaction. I like the continuity of Clark working for the Daily Star at this point and Bruce trying to be all "undercover" in the city, that stuff was cool. The thing with the kid and the bully was good too because it shows how different Gotham and Metropolis, at least classic Gotham and Metropolis, are from each other. Batman, Bruce, wanted the kid to fight back, because he won't survive in Gotham if he doesn't. But Superman, Clark, wanted the boys to stop fighting and talk it out, because in Metropolis people are much more civilized and willing to engage in conversation (at least, more in Metropolis...). Needless to say, it's an interesting contrast. Kinda reminds me of "The Batman/Superman Movie" aka the Superman: The Animated Series three-parter "World's Finest".

I also really liked the Metropolis fight. Batman and Superman meet for the first time after stopping a possessed Catwoman from killing a man, and what do they do? Fight. The exact same thing happens in Justice League!

Now, I expect fighting right off the bat, no pun intended, from Batman (hence the name, okay pun intended), but doesn't Superman usually try and talk things out? The opposite happened in Justice League, and here they both just fight, which kinda makes sense as they're both new to the crime-fighting business and are testing their limits.

I thought the WayneTech robot thing was a bit weird, in fact I wasn't a big fan, but I'm glad Superman took care of them quickly.

Now clearly whoever possessed Catwoman is a New God from Earth-2, or at least has access to their technology as it seems that Superman and Batman were teleported via Boom Tube. Now, they didn't say it in the comic itself, but clearly Superman landed in Earth-2 Smallville and obviously this story takes place before Earth-2 #1 as Earth-2 Batman (and I'm assuming Earth-2 Superman by next month's cover) are still alive. That being said, Earth-2 Batman was pretty cool, and it seems like his relationship with his Superman is a lot like the Silver Age version of the "World's Finest" team-up.

The part that was a little heartbreaking for me was seeing Jonathan Kent alive, especially since he's really not in any form of media anymore as he pretty much dies in everything now. I look forward to Superman's initial reactions to this, and I especially look forward to finding out where Batman is, who brought them to Earth-2, and why?

3Art - 3: I was excited for Jae Lee's art on this book, especially when I first saw the cover for issue #1 a few months ago. Over all I enjoyed it here a lot. I am probably one of the few, but I actually liked the Tim Burton-esque feel that he gives to Gotham City. It makes it seem much darker and more mysterious. I liked that a lot. I wish he would have drawn the WayneTech robots more like OMAC's as the robots he drew here were a bit creepy and a bit much. The way he drew Superman was also very interesting, but I liked him a lot better on the cover.

Quite honestly, I liked Ben Oliver's art a little better when they get to Earth-2. I feel more emotion in Superman's face than I did with Jae Lee's artwork.

5Cover Art - 5: I really liked the cover art to Batman/Superman #1. It is excellent. Yeah, the creepy robots are on there, and yeah Superman's not wearing the New 52 super-armor in the actual book, but there's something iconic about Jae Lee's cover that I just love. The variant covers by Superman artist Kenneth Rocafort and Batman artist Guillem March were also very good as they are featured in the back of the book. I liked Rocafort's a bit more, but I love how prominent Superman looks on March's.

Mild Mannered Reviews


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

January 2013

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