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Batman/Superman #3.1: Doomsday #1 [Review]

foreverevildoomsday001Tales of Doom

Written by: Greg Pak
Pencils by: Brett Booth
Inks by: Norm Rapmund
Colors by: Carlos M. Mangual
Cover by: Tony Daniel, Sandu Florea and Tomeu Morey
Assistant Editor: Anthony Marques
Editor: Mike Cotton
Group Editor: Eddie Berganza
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

This issue is REALLY the entire reason I “bought into” Villains Month at all to begin with, prior to deciding to “also” check out the Cyborg Superman issue and everything snowballing from there. Doomsday is probably THE key character for me, even more than the Cyborg, when it comes to my history with Superman. Whether the actual Doomsday arc, the issue of Reign of the Supermen where the Cyborg throws his body into space, the Hunter/Prey mini-series, the Doomsday Wars mini-series, his appearance during Our Worlds At War or his “Jokerization” during Last Laugh…the creature is one that I’ve “always” taken note of. 

All that said, my initial take on this issue is extreme disappointment. Labeled Doomsday #1 for the issue, I expected actual details–of the creature, of its past, clarification of its involvement with Superman already –and perhaps something of what might yet be coming. While we do get a look at the past, with the creature inserted much more closely to Superman himself in the family history…it seems to almost “cheapen” the character, making it just another part of stuff carrying over from Krypton to plague Superman on Earth, rather than something that arrives out of nowhere or “legend” and all that.

Rather than any real background on the character or firm details of the creature’s origins, we’re given a glimpse of a past encounter with the creature involving Zod, and from Lara’s perspective.  We get some development of Zod’s history with Supergirl (Kara)…which works in context of showing the danger the creature can present, of its place in Kryptonians’ consciousness…but really does not seem to “matter” for an issue that’s supposed to “focus” on the creature. This story seems like it would be far more appropriate as an issue of Supergirl, showing her remembering what she’s learned of the creature. Though the creature’s prominence on the cover is apt, this issue doesn’t really feel like it lives up to its “title,” and certainly fails to live up to my own expectations.

Despite that, had this simply been a random issue of Supergirl and I saw the creature so prominently placed on the cover, I’d’ve likely found this a rather enjoyable “one-shot” of sorts. And with the Zod/Kara stuff, it’s seeming likely that the entirety of Villains Month MIGHT actually drive me to checking out the Supergirl title.

The story itself is solid; I do like the art in and of itself. I don’t mind the reconfiguration of the bone protrusions from Doomsday, except the cheek-horns that just look totally ridiculous to me and seem a pointless addition to the face. While I’ll read about “any” Doomsday, this is somehow probably my least-favorite of all the looks the character’s been given.

All in all…I suspect if you’re a fan of the Supergirl series, you’ll enjoy this. Ditto if you’re a fan of Pak or Booth, or just want the cover to look at. With the apparent “consolidation” of titles for this month, I don’t know where Doomsday is likely to next show up (if at all), but this issue feels like it’s pointing me to the Supergirl title. If you’re expecting to find out where Doomsday came from in-continuity of New 52 or the New 52 “past” of the creature and Superman, you’ll have to look elsewhere or stretch a between-the-lines interpretation.

As a $3.99 one-shot with the fancy 3-D cover…if you can find this at cover price (or opt for the “standard” edition or digital edition), and don’t hold high expectations (or my comments have dispelled those expectations), it’s not bad and I have to “grudgingly” admit I’d recommend it as an expectation-less standalone.

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Batman/Superman #1 [Review]

batmansuperman001Crossworld

Writer: Greg Pak
Artists: Jae Lee, Ben Oliver
Colors: June Chung, Daniel Brown
Letters: Rob Leigh
Cover: Jae Lee with June Chung
Associate Editor: Rickey Purdin
Group Editor: Eddie Berganza
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

I bought this issue to meet a credit card minimum. Of everything on the “new” shelf, it was the only thing that really grabbed my attention for a one-shot purchase with potential. Other than setting this apart from the Loeb-launched Superman/Batman from a decade ago, I do find myself mildly curious as to any significance to the title, having Batman listed first. At least BOTH characters are spotlighted on the standard cover…you don’t have to track down two covers to get both title characters in one shot.

Unfortunately, it was a lot more disappointing than I expected. I’d avoided it on Wednesday–I just had zero interest in it from the start. ANOTHER “Superman meets Batman for the FIRST TIME” story. And that’s where it goes wrong; where I go wrong. I am absolutely NOT the “target audience” for this book: I’m bored and put-out by the New 52 at this point…and to ME, the “first meeting” between Superman and Batman happened “One Night in Gotham City” in the 1980s’ Man of Steel #3.

Leaving nostalgia and such aside, I have a real problem with a young Superman–Superboy???–being so…arrogant, angry, violent. To say nothing of the fact that I did read the first-ever New 52 issue, Justice League #1. And I’m recalling a scene in which Batman and Green Lantern talk about some alien in Metropolis, and meet Superman “for the first time.” So that makes this issue essentially a fairly big plothole to a casual such reader as myself.

Clark Kent visits Gotham, and realizes he really does not fit into this dark city. When he confronts some kids bullying another, he meets a drunk, stinking boy billionaire with more street sense than he’d’ve expected. Turns out Clark was looking for Bruce, to see what he knew of several Wayne employees murdered recently. The two part on neutral terms, neither impressed with the other. The murderer strikes again, and Batman leaps into the fray, surprised at the identity…before Superman busts in, throwing around violence and making a bad situation worse. Another entity joins the situation, and just makes things confusing…though that seems to set up what may be the plot for the next few issues.

Visually I’m not all that impressed…Lee‘s art is not particularly “up my alley,” it’s very stylized and just not what I would choose. Because it’s so…what it is, this feels like it ought to me some sort of Elseworlds book, or some intercompany crossover in the vein of these characters meeting the Aliens or Predators. I’ve never really cared for the jeans, t-shirt and cape get-up for Superman; the look is done no favors here, in my eyes. There’s also something to the way Lee depicts the “S” that bugs me–like it’s trying to be a mash-up of the overly-lined Man of Steel film logo and the more stylized Superman Returns film logo.

Lee‘s art gets the job done, though…even depicting the violence fairly disturbingly (something Lee‘s style does well with). So while it’s not my cup of tea and I have nitpicky issues, I won’t fault it too heavily in and of itself.

I don’t care for the art shift toward the end of the issue. It fits reasonably well given the shift in scenery and all–but I find myself wondering if this is an issue of timing or a planned function to serve the story itself (or just happened to work as it is).

The story itself roughly fits a fairly standard mold for these characters…the idea that while they come to work together when more seasoned at the whole “super-hero” thing, they clash in the early days of their careers is not new. What little I know of the New 52 incarnation of Superman kinda fits, though again I don’t like it much. Batman I’m less sure on–this Bruce Wayne sorta fits with Year One, and probably perfectly fits with the upcoming Zero Year stuff. Given Clark’s readiness to cut loose with his powers it’s sort of astonishing that he doesn’t (seem to) recognize Batman as a mortal man and “reveal” him or at least peek under the cowl with X-ray vision. (Then again, I realize I don’t know the origin of this version of Superman, so maybe he didn’t have access to that power yet).

All in all, I imagine that if you’re a fan of Jae Lee‘s art, of the New 52 early Superman, and/or Pak‘s writing, and have no particular “attachment” to ’80s/’90s Superman and Batman, you’ll probably enjoy this. You might have to overlook that this is yet another $3.99 book…but hey? $2.99 seems to be an exception rather than the rule, these days.

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