Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Review: Superman/Batman #75

Superman/Batman is the only super-family title which I don't have on my pull list and I sometimes wonder if I am missing out on good stories. It seems like I get about 6 issues of the title a year and I always enjoy them.

Superman/Batman #75 was a double-sized anniversary issue and had a lot to get my attention. For starters, the Frank Quitely cover was lovely. I really like Quitely's style so it was great to see his version of the original Legionnaires.

But beyond that, the promise of multiple quick 2 page stories about the World's Finest (or some version of the two) by some of the best talent in the business made this a can't miss book. While there were some hits and misses, overall I was pleased with this book.

Ironically, the story I was least impressed with was the main story. Written by Paul Levitz and drawn by Jerry Ordway, the story is more of a Legion story as they travel back in time to interact with Batman and Superman.

Unfortunately, it felt like there were several pages missing as I read this story. There were some points that just didn't seem to connect. Nor did it necessarily make much sense.

The story starts in the future with a green-glowing Kryptonite powered Lex Luthor clone from some planet (can't be Lexor can it?) battling the Legion on Earth and stealing a time bubble to go back in time to 2010 to kill Superman.

Back in 2010, the Luthor clone poisons Superman with his inheretn K-energy and then steals a chunk of Green K. But much of it seems to happen off screen so when Ultra Boy bemoans how he was beaten up by the clone I had to keep checking that pages of my book weren't stuck together. And how the heck is a Luthor clone that powerful. It just didn't flow well. Batman helps the Legion out in stabilizing Superman from deteriorating more. He also has to break into LexCorp to steal some tissue that will help revive Superman. But none of this was explained in a satisfactory way.

The Luthor clone then goes back further in time to kill Superboy with the stolen Green K chunk.

One of the few high points of the story was the appearance of Shrinking Violet (I think the first since the Johns/Levitz reboot). I found her current costume interesting sort of a mishmash of many of Vi's prior suits ... from her original, to her time in Legionnaires, to her stint as Atom Girl in Waid's reboot. While it's not the Grell green body suit (my favorite Vi costume), I thought this was a nice amalgam, even with it's jarring color scheme.

In the past, the Legion is able to take out the Luthor clone before it kills Superboy.

But who the heck was this thing? Where did he come from? Maybe this is one of those things where this is the set-up and later in the Legion book we learn the origins. But this story was just too confusing and odd.

Once that story was finished, we were then treated to the quick hits. Many of these were absolutely tremendous and made the book worth the money.

First there was Billy Tucci's story which starts off with Superman and Batman fighting the Joker. The joke is on us as the reader though as the reality of that story fades away showing that the heroes are actually two young costumed kids at a convention pretend fighting with an adult in a Joker costume.

The story ends with them going to battle a buxom cosplay Catwoman. Very fun!

My jaw dropped when I saw the Adam Hughes' art on his two page story. His story is five simple words, but the images have all the weight here. Yes, worlds end ... the pre-crisis Kara joyously jumping from her rocket, playing in space with Streaky, Barbara Gordon fighting as Batgirl ... but life goes on ... the new Supergirl flying to the sun while Oracle looks on.

Look at that Streaky panel. Hughes has massive talent.

In a play on the legacy aspect of the characters, JT Krul and Francis Manapul have Batman and Superman talking to Red Robin and Superboy about the famous Tim/Cassie kiss.

I talk about how small moments round out a character. It was so great to read these characters discussing something so grounded in 'real life'. Everything works here including Manapul's classic art and the coloring of the two separate stories.

Duncan Rouleau does a funny riff on Ace the Bat-hound and Krypto the Super-dog as they try to figure out which is the best superhero pet.

The best moment is when they both agree that 'Streaky must die'! I still think it is unbelievable that Streaky has somehow worked his way back into the DCU, even if it is in 'out of continuity' stuff like this and Wednesday Comics.

Again, this was a lot of fun.

Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo do Lex Luthor and the Joker as 'Calvin and Hobbes'. It is fantastic as the Joker says the only way to defeat the heroes is to force them to kill (nice homage to Dark Knight Returns). And Lex doing the classic deadpan look at the audience Calvin did is perfect.

Again, this was a lot of fun.

Finally, Peter Tomasi and Gene Ha do a story with a father reminding his son about the basic lessons of comic books and how those can be adapted and used in real life. As a dad myself, I thought this was a wonderful little story reminding me of a simpler time in comics when things were a bit black and white.

There were other stories here I haven't mentioned ... a sequel of the Lil Leaguers story with Rafael Albuquerque,  some pinups, etc.

So many of these were precious, fun, nostalgic. It amazes me when so much can be said in 2 small pages in comics. And to be honest, the Adam Hughes' art on those two pages were worth the cover price alone. I only wish the main story would have held up its end of the bargain.

Overall grade: B (2 pages stories alone would get an A)


Mart said...

Indeed, the planet in the main story was Lexor - Paul Levitz and Jerry Ordway set this up in the previous two issues. But yes, this is a terribly unsatisfactory 'conclusion' - it reminds me of the last issue of Primal Force, a classic for fans of off-panel storytelling.

Thank goodness for the back-ups.

Saranga said...

the main story is the concluding arc from the past 2 or 3 issues. It hasn't been that strong to be honest.

I thought the kids at the convention was the best part of the book, along with the and Kara/Babs retrospectives.

Anj said...

I suppose it is 'classic Anj' that I thought this was supposed to be a stand-alone story. No wonder I felt lost!

The truth is DC should have recognized that new readers would probably come to this issue for a number of reasons and made this the first chapter of a new story or a stand-alone.

Thanks for clearing things up!

Lisa said...

Of course it was Lexor. The interesting thing to me is that Lexor is still around a thousand years in the future. I have a feeling Lex wrought more than even he knew.

Gene said...

That Adam Hughes Batgirl/Supergirl spread is spectacular!

Nikki said...

Krypto and Ace are just jealous because they know the true winner and champion.

TalOs said...

The high lights from this specific milestone issue had to be the Supergirl/Batgirl retrospective (Adam even included THE Supergirl movie costume!) as well as the WAY in to the DCU main Earth's future where we have a now greying at the temple Connor as Superman aswell as an equally middle aged Damian as Batman gathering round 2 huge statues depicting their mentors! Loved that! B-D