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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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Fatal Attractions Revisited: Uncanny X-Men #304

…For What I Have Done

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Pencilers: John Romita Jr., Jae Lee, Chris Sprouse, Brandon Peterson, Paul Smith
Inkers: Dan Green, Dan Panosian, Terry Austin, Tom Palmer, Keith Williams
Colorist: Mike Thomas
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Cover: John Romita Jr., Dan Panosian
Assistant Editor: Lisa Patrick
Editor: Bob Harras
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Dated: September, 1993

After a couple of the X-Books that were not the actual X-Men themselves, this issue finally pulls the X-Men I was familiar with into this story. Granted, I wasn’t extremely familiar with them–but I knew who most of them were thanks to the cartoon series. Wolverine, Bishop, Cyclops, Storm, Jean Grey, Beast, Professor Xavier, even Colossus…and of course, Magneto.

I recall reading the death of Illyana–Colossus’ sister–in the previous issue (sucked in by the image of Jean Grey and Jubilee with the blurb “If you read only ONE X-title this month–this issue MUST be it!”). This issue has the funeral as we see the various characters reacting to the death of the young girl. We also get some backstory on Magneto and the losses he’s suffered, which have been driving factors in his methods of trying to “save” the “mutant race.” There are some quieter moments between various characters; I especially like the Kitty Pryde/Storm and Banshee/Bishop scenes. I’m still amazed in retrospect at how very new some of these characters were in the summer of 1993 (particularly Bishop), and how much more all the characters have grown, changed, or otherwise [been] developed in the decades since this story.

As Illyana’s funeral draws to a close, Magneto crashes the party, which is almost immediately further crashed by Exodus and the rest of the Acolytes, who have come to grips with the revelation of Cortez’ part in Magneto’s near-death. The X-Men and Magneto and his Acolytes clash, as the ship Avalon is brought into Earth’s atmosphere above them, causing world-wide issues and fear. The battle quickly becomes one with catastrophic consequences should the X-Men fail, but ultimately it falls to Xavier to pull a new trick out of his figurative hat to save the day, using his power in a way I don’t recall seeing him do prior to this (though it wouldn’t seem all that out of place nowadays).

This issue felt a bit more like being dropped into the middle of a story, the way it opened–the Acolytes already trying to tear Cortez apart for his deception. I honestly don’t recall if this continues directly from Uncanny X-Men #303 or from some other issue of the X-books. While I vaguely remembered that it was shortly after Illyana’s funeral that Colossus left the X-Men, I’d forgotten that the funeral itself was in this issue, and the way Magneto and Co. crashed the funeral. I’d also completely forgotten the way Xavier ended this particular battle, which seemed both absurd and epic at the same time, to me.

The issue’s art is a bit fractured–there are five pencilers on the issue, and I noticed it while reading–particularly with Magneto’s flashback. Fortunately, other than Jae Lee‘s art, the rest fits relatively well together and isn’t glaring. Of course, that’s something I notice now but if I noticed back in ’93, I don’t recall it being a conscious thing of recognizing different artists’ work, or knowing about “fill in artists” or any such stuff. All that said…this is another issue that I don’t mind the art on the whole, and which seems to fit the story.

Including a few ads, this issue has 62 pages for only a $3.95 cover price. I like the cover–most of the characters shown on the front are the ones I would have been most familiar with, though in this sense are rather generic. But once opened up, we see that there are a lot more characters involved in the image, all angrily looking toward a huge foreground closeup of Magneto. And yet again, I like the hologram on this cover. While the hologram itself is pretty cool, its image strikes me as rather iconic for the time–I’m sure I’ve seen that several image of Magneto with the swirl of debris outside the context of this story. I wouldn’t be surprised if I’ve snagged a copy of this from a bargain bin since buying my original copy at full cover price in 1993, but the copy I have onhand right now for this rereading and such was part of a 3/$10 deal, which while not as satisfying on principle as getting the issue for under or around $1, is still quite worthwhile for being less than cover price.

This issue seems to set the stage for the next couple chapters, which to me are the heart of this story, and what I MOST think of with the title Fatal Attractions.

Wolverine #1 [Review]

Full review posted to cxPulp.com.

Story: 2/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 3/5

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