Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Review: Batman/Superman #13
It has been just about 2 months since the last Batman/Superman issue was released. So I was a pleasantly surprised to see Batman/Superman #13 on the racks last week. I can't recall exactly when I first heard the solicit for this book but I know it has been delayed a number of times.
In fact, it had been so long since the last issue that I needed to go back and skim Batman/Superman #12 to catch up on where we were.
Now I have very much enjoyed Greg Pak's turn on this book and his work with Superman in general. Removed the muddled Doomed arc and I would say he has been my favorite post-Morrison writer of Superman since the New 52. But I think that he leans a bit on historical data which may not be true in the new DCU. For example, I don't know if there is any public connection between Smallville and Superman even though we have seen it here and there. I also don't know just how public a Lois/Superman friendship is in the new 52, something which is an important plot in this story.
And I have gushed about Jae Lee's art on this book. I think his stuff is supernatural and gorgeous. But I can't help but wonder if he is the reason for the ;ate shipping. Last issue there was a different artist. This issue his art doesn't seem as crisp and polished as his prior. I wonder if DC accepted a rougher version of the work just to get it finally out.
Last issue, we saw Batman and Superman make hard decisions about changing history on Earth 2. This issue, Pak has them brought back to their Earth but without their memories. I suppose, given it is Kaiyo who is doing all this, that it is all for the chaos.
Here we meet Lord Satanus for the first time.
Back on Earth, Satanus question Kaiyo. Why is she doing this? What is she doing? How dare she interfere in his system.
I like Satanus as a Superman villain, a true threat to the Man of Steel. I wonder if this Satanus is the brother of the Blaze in Supergirl. I hope that he becomes a bigger player in the super-books.
Now, for some reason, Superman appears in Gotham City naked.
It leads to a nice moment, showcasing Superman's personality. Catwoman arrives and starts to vamp with him. And he can only blush and cover up, just like a boy from Smallville would.
But why? Why naked? Where is his Kryptonian skin armor? Is it done simply to make this moment possible?
While he remembers modesty, Superman doesn't know who he is or why he has powers.
Meanwhile, Batman also shows up in Gotham. But he is fully clothed. Hmmm ....
There must be villains everywhere in Gotham. Because while Catwoman vamps with Superman, the Scarecrow is nearby when Batman arrives and immediately attacks.
I like the way Pak conveys what it must be like to have no memories. He initially has Bruce wonder why he is dressed like he is. Then he has the muscle memory of years of combat simply override his wonder, allowing him to thrash the Scarecrow. He even has Batman use a machine gun, not aware of his own internal barometer against them. And then he has Batman say it was fun to defeat the Scarecrow. Batman ... saying something is fun! It is a simple way to show how odd it must be to be a stranger in your own body.
Now Superman ends up wrapping a scrap of cloth around his loins and defeats a giant robot who is threatening Selina. When he says it is fun to use his powers, it sounds right. One thing Pak does is contrast Batman and Superman in this book, in their attitude and approach to problems. So seeing them echo each other was a nice hook for the reader.
Catwoman is under attack by someone named Mangubat, a villain who uses technology to do his evil works, and he is gunning for her.
What isn't clear is if she recognizes Superman for who he is. I have to assume Superman is a celebrity, easily recognized, and Selina is taking advantage of the situation.
Meanwhile, Batman has figured out how to summon the Batmobile, who to have it take him home, and how to dress as Bruce and join a party.
What I like about this issue is that it is clear that not remembering the horror in his past makes Bruce a very different person.
I think he does believe that it is awesome to be the richest sexiest man. And I don't think that an intact Batman would think the same.
Lois has been basically absent from Pak's Action Comics. And seeing her in this issue makes me wish that she would be a bigger part of that title.
Here Lois is riding on a train headed to Gotham to interview Mangubat. It turns out that Mangubat wants more than just a voice in the press. He wants to kidnap Lois, sending his robot flunkies to gather her.
I love how calmly she says she is smarter than he is, pulling out a weapon and frying the robot.
That's my Lois. And I love how Lee draws her!
Then the train itself seems to spring to robotic life. Mangubat will get Lois.
He says Superman is trying to kill him. What??
But then he says that kidnapping Lois will give him protection from Superman. I don't know if there has been any evidence in the New 52 that Superman and Lois have such a close relationship that she would be kidnapping bait.
Does this make sense?
But Superman does arrive with Catwoman and uses his heat vision to dissect the train and save Lois. Even though he doesn't know he is Superman. Ummm ... so where did the pants and Superman belt come from? I am assuming Selina got them for him. But I am guessing.
This is a good shot to show the rougher look of Jae Lee's work on this issue. Clark looks more penciled and less crisp.
Maybe it is the delays.
Maybe it is the fatigue with Doomed.
Maybe it is the rougher look of Jae Lee's art ... being close to his usual excellence but not quite.
Maybe it is that the trick of removing their memories, even if it gives some insight into Bruce, didn't quite grab me enough ...
But I wasn't as impressed with this issue as I usually am when both Pak and Lee are together.
This is still a very good book. And I love Lois here. But I have come to expect even more. Maybe that is the best compliment I can give.
Overall grade: B