It seems like I dropped the ball when the New 52 was announced. I did not pick up Batman by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo. So it should come as some surprise that the Batman #19 is the first issue of the run that I have bought and, interestingly enough, it was because of the back-up story.
I had heard via Scott Snyder's twitter that Superman guest-starred in the back-up feature and since classic World's Finest stories haven't been common in the DCnU, I figured I would pick up the book. Sure, Superman and Batman both star in Justice League. But we haven't seen them one on one.
Ghost Lights was written by James Tynion IV with great art by Alex Maleev. I haven't read anything by Tynion before although I have heard good things about his work. I applaud his use of the supernatural in this story as it puts Batman and Superman on a more even playing field. And I love Alex Maleev's art. His dark inks work very well with the story.
But most of all, I liked the interaction between Superman and Batman in this story. They clearly are friends. And their personalities shine.
The story opens with the Gotham police surrounding an apartment building. People are dead in one of the apartments. Those who enter the building to investigate don't come out.
These GCPD officers are drawn to the apartment by a ghostly light which leads them to the door. Only one escapes, shrieking about the horror he has seen.
Batman, of course, have been scoping things out. Superman arrives.
I love the fact that Superman has been calling Batman and comes in person to check on his friend. Damien is dead. Superman is checking on Batman to make sure he is okay, the way good friends would. It is what Superman would do.
And I like how Batman doesn't even let Superman finish the sentence. It feels like Batman doesn't even want to think about it right now, instead burying himself in work. He doesn't even want to hear the word Damien.
This interaction alone made me glad I bought the story.
The two enter the building and are also led to the apartment by the ghost light. I like how Tynion mixes in some Smallville into the conversation, again showcasing just the tiniest bit the differences in the heroes.
He also showcases how the supernatural effects Superman. His vision powers are definitely off, unable to focus or concentrate on the more eerie aspects of this adventure.
Entering the apartment, the two are greeted by a ghost surrounded by dead bodies (including hers). The floor is covered with magic symbols and circles. Again, Superman's vision is worthless here unable to focus on her in any way.
I am somewhat surprised how matter-of-fact all of this is for them. Piles of corpses and a ghost ... no biggie. Let's ask her some questions.
She lets them know what they are up against, pointing to the ceiling.
Now you might think that either Superman or Batman, well-seasoned heroes, would look at the ceiling when they entered the room. Certainly this demon isn't camouflaged in any way. But that would have eliminated the conversation with the girl ghost and the nice 'look up' moment she got the page before. I suppose we can chalk this up to artistic license. Or the supernatural. Or both.
One thing I am glad about? That this demon isn't a Cthulhu knockoff. It seems like every demon these days needs innumerable tentacles. They should take other forms like this nasty giant mouth with eye-stalks. This looks more like something from John Carpenter's The Thing than H.P. Lovecraft.
Anyways, it was tremendous to see Superman find Batman to talk to him about Damien. And this adventure seems like a nice fun way to show how the two interact outside of JL meetings.