I don't think I'll be reviewing Batman/Superman every month but last week's second issue really was something special enough to warrant some coverage here.
I didn't cover the first issue because I thought the story was a little convoluted. Even though I knew from solicits that a trip to Earth 2 was going to happen to the young versions of Prime Earth's heroes, it was a bit hard to grasp that at the end. Certainly the early part of that issue when a young Clark talks to a young Bruce was great. But overall I was hoping for a little more story-wise in the premiere.
One thing that did impress me in the first issue, and definitely in this issue, is Jae Lee's art. From panel construction that reminded me of JH Williams III to a feathery pencil style in bright pencils to a murky feel in
darker scenes, his art just absolutely sparkled. And that certainly is true here as well.
One thing I like about Lee's art here is that there is a dream-like quality to the art, whether it be idyllic fantasy or nightmare, his art seems almost surreal. Even hair looks like ink spreading out in water, ethereal, eerie. And in this universe bending story where a chaos demon (I assume) is pulling the strings, it works.
But the other thing that stands out in this issue is Greg Pak's story. Now on Earth 2, we get to see just how brash and untrained the Earth 1 Batman and Superman are. And we also get to see what accomplished and heroic the E2 Batman and Superman are. Remember, on Earth 2, these heroes were beloved ... the Wonders ... trusted. We haven't seen any of that in Prime Earth stories ... at least not in Superman.
So when we see the Earth 1 Batman tussling with his the Earth Catwoman, it is interesting to here her call their emotionally charged battles 'the good old days'. I also love how Lee never lets us get a good look at Catoman. She is always in the shadows. That is how a thief should act. Their is something very cinematic about this scene.
And that feeling carries over to the Smallville scenes where the Earth 1 Superman has throttled the Earth 2 Batman. The sepia tones of the background always work in Smallville, giving an old photograph feeling to the setting.
But I love our Superman's response to seeing Pa again. Taken aback by seeing him at first, but then ashamed at Pa's scolding and fear, you see just what an influence the Kents are ... or rather what they should have been on Earth 1, if they were still alive to help Clark be ... well ... Clark.
When the two Batmans meet they of course spar to a stalemate (although I would think the more seasoned Earth 2 Batman might get the better of the younger version).
And Catwoman just watching along, commenting on how idiotic this all is, is perfect. Again, her shadowy appearance works, letting my imagination fill in the details while stressing her stealth.
I also love how she allowed herself to be tied up by the Earth 1 Batman to be 'interrogated' although she was manipulating him all along. Reminded me of the first Black Widow scene in the Avengers movie.
And when the Earth 2 Superman comes and is ready to brawl with his counterpart, they are stopped before any foolishness can commence by one of the most powerful women in the DCU, Ma Kent. She can tell that a Clark this quick to fight, this angry can't have the Kents in his life.
I have heard how Lee's use of silhouettes has been criticized. But for me it works. I can tell Superman is crying in that first panel. I can tell how much love there is in that hug in the second issue. But by letting me fill in some of the details myself, it is powerful. I might have one tear rolling down the cheek. Someone else might have him flushed without tears. Someone else might have him bawling. We can tell the emotion here and we all get to fill in the gaps.
I love that Pak stresses just how important the Kents are to the Earth 2 Superman. The New 52 Superman at times has not acted in ways I think Martha would be proud of.
Heading to Metropolis, the elder Superman introduces the younger to his wife Lois Lane.
I think it is natural for a young Superman to be floored by the appearance of Wonder Woman. But more importantly, I love how the older Superman tells Lois that he has only ever had eyes for her. As someone who misses the Lois and Clark couple, as someone who misses a steafast, heroic, mature Superman ... this scene was incredible. It really shines a spotlight on the differences.
But again, Lee just shines here. That is one dramatic entrance for Diana. And the paint brushed clouds makes her majestic, feel classic.
Good story. Great art. I enjoyed this issue a lot more than the first. And look forward to the rest of this arc.