Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Review: Batman/Superman #11

Batman/Superman #11 came out last week, the third chapter in the Doomed story arc. Knowing the August solicits we are really just at the beginning of this arc. There 3 ... three(!) ... more months of this. That is a bit crazy!

As a third chapter, this one does it's job. We learn much more about the background of the Doomsday attack. We learn about the origin of Doomsday leaving the Zone. There is a fair amount of exposition/plot progression but never by sacrificing the action. That is appreciated.

But for me the best thing about this issue was how well Pak shows us how Superman is an inspiration or at least an influence on the heroes and people around him. I don't know if I have seen or heard that in the New 52. As an long standing Superman fan, I like him being the brightest light in the universe, the light others strive for.

The art on the issue is a mishmash by Tom Derenick, Karl Kerschl, and Daniel Sampere. All have a nice style and the differences aren't so jarring as to knock me out of the story.

I commented how much I have been enjoying these opening recap pages done in the style of the Daily Planet. However reading this one, I think I missed have missed Doomed Chapter 2.5.

The last chapter in Superman/Wonder Woman #8 ended with Superman somehow willing the Doomsday germ inside. He was cradled in Diana's arms.

This says that Superman, in semi-Superdoom mode, went on a rampage in Metropolis. Did I miss something?

Batman, Wonder Woman, and Steel all decide to team up to help find a cure for Superman. And they have to act fast. In the media-saturated world, Superman being a monster is big news. What better way to get ratings than to whip the public into a panic, terrified of their hero. Even Batman knows that these terror tactics work.

Already we begin to see how important Superman and his image is to Batman. He knows he has to bring this problem to an end and soon. He, Wonder Woman, and Steel all head to the Fortress to try to find a cure.

When  I read Action Comics #31, I saw a panel where Krypto licked Superman's hand and at the time I wondered if that was a key. Wouldn't Krypto get the virus? Maybe him having the disease will help people figure out a cure?

Well, Krypto is indeed pretty sick when the heroes arrive in the Arctic. The heroes think it must be from the proximity Krypto was to Superman, that 'Doomsday plague wave' that made everything die around the original Doomsday.

But I think this is because he has the virus as well. Will see if that plays out.

A suddenly spry Krypto does bound about the Fortress and ends up jumping into the Phantom Zone. And Batman immediately assumes that Krypto is trying to tell them something. But that something is that he is on the trail of Doomsday.

Umm ... didn't Batman see Doomsday get ripped asunder? How can you be on his trail when he is dead?

And there is a little bit of Lassie here. Lassie barks and the owner knows the dog is saying Timmy fell down the well. How does Batman know what Krypto is thinking?

But I am nit-picking. What I liked about this panel was what Batman is saying. Batman is thinking of Superman fighting this disease. He thinks about what might happen if Superman succumbs. With his friend suffering, he is willing to jump into the Zone with Diana.

But he does tell Steel to stay out and shut things down if any villains try to escape.

The Zone seems off. There is some solidity to things, including the heroes. And that makes them easy targets for all the villains still in the zone - Mongul, Non, and others. In fact, those villains are trying to seal a rift between the Zone and Earth, perhaps the very rift Doomsday went through, a rift pouring energy into zone, changing its properties and killing those trapped there.

But Diana and Bruce aren't the only ones in there. The Ghost Soldier arrives and just in time to make the heroes intangible, saving them from Mongul. And under the influence of Diana's lasso he states he has left the Tower. He can't believe the Tower helped release Doomsday and he wants to make amends.

I said I liked how the heroes here are comparing themselves to Superman. Despite being saved by the Ghost Soldier, Batman attacks him. He says that he isn't Clark.

The search of the Zone leads Batman, Diana, Krypto and the soldier to a large Kirby-looking device which seems to be generating the energy causing the rifts.

And right nearby is Dr. Xa-Du, the phantom king, the first prisoner. We last saw Xa-Du in Morrison's Action arc, a member of the Revenge Squad. We know that his 'ectoplasmic' bandages allow him to be solid in the Zone and on the outside as well. Here he is wielding a pretty big gun and he doesn't seem to happy.

We really don't know too much about this Xa-Du. The original was introduced way back in Action Comics #283, a physician who killed his patients when he experimented on them. Hopefully we'll get some of his backstory because he seems to be a big part of this story.

We have heard how Batman is thinking about Superman, comparing himself to Kal. Now we see Wonder Woman doing the same thing. Batman can see that Wonder Woman is trying to think like Superman. She doesn't jump to the sword and tries to gather info. I like that, that even Diana is willing to strive to be like Clark.

It turns out that Xa-Du was recruited by Harrow to help bring about Superman's end. And thirsting for revenge he acquiesced. He freed Doomsday from a Zone within a Zone (a pocket Zone?).

So Xa-Du helped create/manifest/substantiate the Ghost Soldier? Fascinating.

And Harrow is also way more interesting now. How did she know about the Zone? Who is she really?

I need more backstories!

Part of the problem of releasing a monster is that you don't know how monstrous it has become. The released Doomsday was something different than Xa-Du expected. Doomsday broke the Zone. Superdoom will kill everything. Xa-Du wants to kill it. And he has a big old gun to do just that.

According to him there is no cure.

So there is the exposition. Who made the Ghost Soldier? How did the Tower know about Doomsday? Who released him? Xa-Du has a pretty big part to play in this. And, knowing that Diana and Bruce subdue him to bring him out.

In the meantime, Steel had to keep Non from escaping the Zone through the portal while keeping it open to let Diana and Bruce (with Krypto and Xa-Du) return.

Batman actually chastises Steel for endangering the world by keeping the door open. When asked, Steel responds simply. It is what Superman would have done.

Three heroes ... all influenced by Superman. All willing to risk their lives to save Superman. Fantastic. I think of Funeral for a Friend, the story after the original Death of Superman Doomsday story. That arc showed how much Superman was revered, how his death effected people. This reminded me of that a little. Superman is sick, dying, in peril ... and these heroes realize what he means to them and everyone else.

So this was a good chapter in Doomed, moving the story along, raising some new subplots, and showing how important Superman is. This wasn't a jaw-dropping issue. But it was perfect for a third chapter. And it was very good.

And when a sick Krypto recovers and we learn how to cure Superman from his dog ... well remember you read it here first.

I think Greg Pak has a nice handle on Superman. I am glad he is on the super-books.

Overall grade: B+/B

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Doomed arc has been a lot better than I thought it would be. Like you, I loved that the other heroes kept trying to live up to Clark's example. Now if the writers can just apply that to times when Superman isn't being changed into a bloodthirsty beast.

As for the battle in Metropolis, my only guess is that people thought there was a fight since Batman and Wonder Woman were in the city and Clark did break a lot of windows (and I'm assuming a lot of other things) when he cried out in pain when he was suppressing the Doomsday virus.

As for tracking Doomsday, they were trying to find out where he came from and what caused him to change in the hopes of finding something they could use as a cure.

I hope we see more Harrow, Ghost Soldier, and Xa-Du in future issues. They're turning into great characters.