Batman/Superman #30 came out last week and was such a wonderful issue. There is action. There is camaraderie between Batman and Superman. There is something of a throwback to Silver Age World's Finest stories teaming up these two. There is an unexpected guest star! And there is an emotional ending which hit me more than it should have.
Writer Tom Taylor really brings a classic sense to this flashback team-up book. I said last month that I was wary of Taylor writing this book as he was most famous for Injustice. But he has completely turned me around these last couple of months. For one, this story was sheer joy. And I have been reading All-New Wolverine and I have loved that book as well.
And Robson Rocha is on art again and does a wonderful job. This is elegant line work with a lot of detail. And Rocha is able to shine in all the environment of the story: deep space, on a space ship, and back on Earth.
Truly, this felt like a modern version of a Silver/Bronze age story. And that is a high compliment.
Last issue ended with Superman attacked by the 'Kryptonian' he had just saved from a life as an energy processor. This issue ends with Superman now attached to the engine.
In a bit of a switch, the 'Kryptonian' turns out to actually be a Daxamite named Si Bar. He was promised freedom if he helped capture Superman. He speaks Kryptonian because he learned it in his youth. But it is clear he has been in this machine for some time. He doesn't know that Krypton has exploded.
And he is dying. The years over absorbing energy from scorch space is destroying his cells.
So this whole plot thickens. The discovery of the dead alien pilot. The message scrawled on the moon. Lobo after Batman. How much of this was premeditated.
I am glad that Si Bar isn't a Kryptonian. There are too many of them around.
Meanwhile, Batman is racing into space to meet up with Superman. He has figured out that the male alien on the moon is part of this plot. Lobo is probably going to be hunting him down. So he decides to phone a friend.
He calls Hal Jordan and says he needs a favor. It is a nice moment, building on the 'banana muffin' line from last issue. I love that this Batman says he is working through the problem of asking people for help.
But this is still sort of the 'Bat-God' of the current DCU, a man who retro-engineers the comm-system of Green Lantern rings.
I suppose that makes this a nice mix of the old and the new of Batman.
Realizing that he has been duped, Si Bar decides to help Superman. Why would he sentence someone else to life as an engine? So he releases Superman and lets him bathe in the Scorch space sun. Instantly Kal is super-recharged.
I am such a sucker for images of Superman bathing in sunlight to juice up. I had to include this.
I'm not a huge Batman fan but I have to say the characterization of the character here is spot on to the Batman in my mind.
Superman begins racing to meet Batman in space and is ready to fight Lobo and mop things up. But Batman is the Dark Knight Detective here. He needs closure to this mystery. And so he tells Superman a different plan.
Batman demanding answers and thinking of bringing a criminal to justice is great!
Or it seemed to be a good idea until Lobo catches up to his ship, enters, and kills Batman by holding him in the vacuum of space.
Lobo brings the body back to the ship on the moon so he can collect the bounty. To no one's surprise, Batman is actually alive. He pushes the giant lizard for answers.
The alien's species needed Superman as its new engine. They sent his daughter to play on Superman's compassion to lure him into deep space. But his daughter realized what was happening and needed to be killed. In fact, it was this alien, her father, who killed her!
More interesting is the idea that this alien hired Lobo to kill Batman because she left the message for the Dark Knight. I guess Batman's reputation is so great that this guy didn't want the detective hounding him. That is some rep!!
The alien's confession is heard by the waiting Green Lantern corps. Lobo is tossed into deep space.
Batman turns out to be Superman!
The idea of the two heroes swapping costumes to get out of predicaments is a wonderfully daffy Silver Age trope. I love this classic ruse used to save the day! Perfectly nostalgic!
The Corps comes in and arrests the pilot for murder.
The book ends on a truly emotional moment.
The Daxamite is dying. On Earth, he wants to watch the sunset. Ironic in that he faced the Scorch Sun for years. Poetic in the multiple layers of the meaning of sunsets.
Batman and Superman won't make him face this alone. They sit on the hill next to him and watch the sun sink over the horizon. And with the darkness, the Daxamite dies.
It is a wonderful moment. This is something that Superman would do, providing support for someone who needs comfort. But for me, the best thing was that Batman would join them. This isn't the grim avenger who needs to get back to Gotham. This isn't someone who is cold and vicious and driven to the point of being inhuman. He takes the time to join his friend and help this alien who has suffered. That is what the World's Finest should do.
I wasn't expecting to like this story as much as I did. In fact, I loved it.
Yes, Superman and Batman are different. Their motivations are different. Their power levels are different. But they can be friends. They can work together. They both have the same goals. We haven't seen that much these days where everyone wants to do an homage to the end of Miller's Dark Knight Returns.
So thanks for Tom Taylor for showing us that World's Finest relationship again!