Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Review: Superman/Batman #56

Superman/Batman #56, the conclusion of the 'SuperBat' story arc, came out last Wednesday, written by Michael Green and Mike Johnson with art by Rags Morales. You may recall missed the beginning of this arc, only getting issue S/B #55 because of a Linda Lang siting and some sweet Morales art.

The 'switched persona' or 'switched powers' idea has been done many times but I thought this story had a satisfying end. It nicely focused the differences in Superman and Batman's personalities as each struggles with their new reality.

The issue starts out with a bang as a recharged super-powered Batman get confronted on the moon by a phalanx of JLAers and Supergirl. Diana tells him they are bringing him in ... 'the hard way' if necessary. Despite the group's strength (2 Green Lanterns, a Kryptonian, an Amazon Princess, etc. ), Batman seems dismissive of them, asking them to get out of his way.

As I have said before, I really like Morales art and this panel illustrates that. Wonder Woman and Hal are exuding pure confidence. Kara on the other hand strikes a ready but less hardened pose, maybe realizing that fighting is the wrong thing to do here.

While that interaction is happening on the moon, Zatanna and Superman are searching the mystic realms for the Silver Banshee and the amulet which caused all the problems to begin with.

They find her in the Oblivion Bar, a hang-out for mystics. There is an old-fashioned bar room brawl happening until Zatanna settles everyone done. I don't quite understand why these folks were all fighting. I mean Blue Devil is pummeling Zauriel in one panel. But I bet it was fun to draw.

The human form the Silver Banshee has possessed is sitting in the corner of the bar. She is a decrepit woman of advanced age, something which seems to shock Zatanna. She deduces that while this amulet may give you your heart's desire, it also takes something as well. It is like a deal with the devil, there is always a catch.

Zatanna performs a magical exorcism, breaking the power of the amulet and releasing the Banshee. While the Silver Banshee is able to escape, at least the heroes have the amulet now ... something they will need to reverse the Superman/Batman condition.

It isn't going to be easy. Despite the firepower of the assault group, Batman is the superior combatant. He quickly neutralizes Diana, Jon Stewart, Firestorm, Red Tornado, and Hawkgirl. It is impressively quick and efficient.

Surprising and wonderful, Kara is the voice of reason here. She is the one that tells Batman that they will lose to him if they fight but that they can't let him go on doing what he is doing. People are getting hurt ... people like Selina Kyle and Dick Grayson.

Is there any stronger evidence that Kara's persona in the DCU has changed since Gates/Igle took over? Supergirl is the smart one here. She is the rational one. And she is strong. She will fight if she needs to but better to end this intelligently and peacefully if possible.

The Supergirl of 2 years ago ... the rave dancer, the 'crystal hell' Kara ... wouldn't have elevated herself above the fray like this. I like this Supergirl.

Distracted for a moment by Supergirl's impassioned plea, Batman begins to hear voices in his head telling him he needs help. With his super-hearing, he pinpoints the voices to Crime Alley.

There he is met first by ghost-like manifestations of his parents. Overjoyed by seeing them, and then saddened by their subsequent dispersion, Bruce begins to cry.

He is then confronted by Clark Kent.

An enraged Batman castigates Clark telling him that he wastes his time playing human reporter when he should be constantly ridding the world of crime. He drives the point home by beating on Clark a bit. Luckily the Batman-like suit he is wearing protects him from any lethal damage.

This allows Zatanna to fly in and use the amulet to again reverse the magic it has done. It rids Bruce of Clark's powers. And it rids Clark of his humanity.

Zatanna was nearby the whole time. In fact, she made the illusions of the Waynes to lure Bruce there.

Looks like everything is back to normal.

In a nice little epilogue, Bruce and Clark talk about what it was like to live in each other's shoes for a period of time. They also talk of how the amulet would give you one thing while robbing you of another. It gave Bruce powers but made him lose his mind. It gave Clark a 'normal life' but tried to rob him of it by having him get shot.

Clark has the best line though. "I know what the amulet really took away. Took away from all of us. It took you. But we got you back." Sure, Batman calls it a Boy Scout line. But it is more a Superman line. That just captures the essence of what Superman is about ... caring about people.

I have to say this was a simple but enjoyable read. Morales art suffers a bit from having different inkers throughout the issue, but it still shines.

Not bad.

Overall grade: B


TalOs said...

There's a line from "SuperBat" in this issue come the scene where Supergirl is confronting him and trying to talk some sense in to him in where he think to himself that she's grown up and had this occurred while she was still new to Earth she would've striked first THEN asked questions.

So it seems you're right Anj in stating that Supergirl is showing she's taking the whole Superhero bus seriously now and is maturing even at the mere age of 16. ;)

Gene said...

Although Supergirl's willingness to talk things over might appear to some as a sign of youthful naive idealism, I think it fits her well as a superhero who wants to solve problems with force only as a last resort.

Anj said...

Although Supergirl's willingness to talk things over might appear to some as a sign of youthful naive idealism, I think it fits her well as a superhero who wants to solve problems with force only as a last resort.

Thanks for the post.

Talos notes that Batman said it best. "Kara is growing up" rather than punching first and asking questions later.

I think most of us think that isn't naivete but intelligence.