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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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Batman Incorporated #8 [Review]

batmaninc(vol2)008The Boy Wonder Returns

Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Chris Burnham
Art (pgs 6-9): Jason Masters
Colorist: Nathan Fairbairn
Letterer: Taylor Esposito
Associate Editor: Rickey Purdin
Group Editor: Mike Marts
Covers: Chris Burnham with Nathan Fairbairn
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

DC suckered me.

I’d read and heard rumors throughout the Death of the Family stuff going on that we might get a “big death” in the bat-family, and it seemed like most guesses were going toward either Alfred or Damian. Of course, that proved to be yet another Major Joker Story where the scary madman doesn’t actually kill any major characters.

Then I caught wind of this issue–and as the bulk of the comic fans On The Internet learned a couple days ago…this issue gives us that “big death.” Thanks to DC, the “news” was out days before the issue, SPOILING its otherwise surprise for many comic readers–myself included. I’m almost ashamed to say that the spoiler/confirmation of the “big death” prompted me to get this issue.

I recall picking up the reprint of Son of the Demon a few years back, when Morrison‘s run started–and I’m pretty sure I picked up the first couple issues, at least, of his run, not long after Infinite Crisis. With this slightly-muddled memory of being there at the beginning, I wanted to be here at the end. And…my very first Batman comics were less than a year after the death of the second Robin, Jason Todd.

So, Batman Inc. #8…that’s what this review should focus on, right?

This is my first issue of the title. Batman Inc. was not part of the first wave of New 52 titles, and so I gave it a pass when it did premiere. I don’t think I even got around to reading any issues of the original iteration preNew 52. So other than the loose concept–that Batman has agents all over the place in a more formalized structure–I come to this cold.

This issue opens with Robin (Damian…I’m still not totally used to Robin NOT being Tim Drake) flying into an ongoing battle, and connecting with Nightwing. Meanwhile, Batman is fighting against Talia al Ghul (Ra’s al Ghul’s daughter, mother of Damian). Red Robin’s part of the mix, fighting elsewhere. Nightwing and Robin have a moment–the original Robin and current Robin, on their own time as Batman & Robin. Enter an armored warrior from Talia’s end, and the two realize they’re in trouble. Nightwing falls, leaving Robin to stand against this Goliath-figure.

As Robin leaps to the attack, agents outside the fight interfere, and the boy is wounded numerous times, while calling out to his parents to stop this fight.

And for the third time…Batman finds himself with a dead Robin…perhaps the most personal of all, as Damian was his own flesh-and-blood son.

Story-wise…this is a painful issue. Most of the fighting fits, and seems like just another large-scale incident with superheroes involved in some city-wide invasion or such. But the scene of Damian’s battle is just…brutal. Despite all I know of the character–and the character certainly being “old before his time,” this is still a child…and it’s (to say the least) not at all a comfortable scene. I have no idea what Batman and Talia are fighting about this time, the details of their present issues…maybe I’ll find out via Wikipedia or listening to the inevitable podcasts covering this issue, etc.

Visually, I have no problem with the art–even the multiple artists didn’t throw me at all. Reading the issue, I just kinda sped through, taking in what’s going on, and honestly would not even have NOTICED there were multiple artists had I not specifically read the credits to list above for this review.

It was probably a mistake for me to give in and allow much weight be given to this issue. “The death scene” is only a couple pages, and easily recapped. Unlike 1988’s A Death in the Family, I’m reading only a single issue, so it’s not like this is the culmination of several issues’ reading, building to a climactic moment. This is me having a specific moment spoiled by mass media and deciding to read the issue for myself rather than simply read ABOUT it.

As a standalone issue, I’m not all that thrilled with this. I didn’t really pick up on much context of the “why” to the fighting or other context (I’m sure this’ll make more sense read in a collected volume, in-context). But sadly…I got what I paid for. I witnessed the brutal death of another Robin…a visual I’m uncomfortable with, yet get to live with today, and moving forward.

Batman: The Dark Knight #6 [Review]

Full review posted to cxPulp.com.

Story: 2.5/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 2.5/5

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