Pick of the Week

Pick of the Week – 07.24.2013 – Batman/Superman #2

What did the
iFanboy
community think?

853
Pulls
Avg Rating: 4.4
iFanboy Community Pick of the Week Percentage: 25.9%
 
Users who pulled this comic:
Story by Greg Pak
Art by Jae Lee
Colors by June Chung
Letters by Rob Leigh
Cover by Jae Lee & June Chung

Size: 32 pages
Price: 3.99

Batman/Superman might be the only book from DC Comics that is truly living up to the promise of The New 52. When the reboot was first announced I was excited because I lived through Crisis on Infinite Earths and I knew how liberating it could be to toss off the shackles of continuity and start over fresh and how much fun it could be to meet this characters all over again (and have them meet each other).

It quickly became apparent, however, that there would be no repeat of 1986 and that most of the comics that DC publish are still stuck in a morass of stories that paid lip service to starting over while still holding onto the past like a child that won’t give up its security blanket. Timelines are mangled and characterizations are a mess.

In short, it’s been a tough road for DC in The New 52.

The first two issues of Batman/Superman feel the most like a book that should happen immediately following a reboot since Grant Morrison’s Action Comics #1. The creative team, led by writer Greg Pak and artist Jae Lee, they get it. They seem to understand the kind of stories you need to tell in a rebooted continuity—these familiar characters seem fresh and new. Batman is confused by Superman. Superman is confused by Batman. They are both thrown for a loop by Earth-2. It’s fun and it’s exciting and it’s so good that it almost make me even more disappointed in the majority of DC’s output since the reboot.

(In my head I envision a fantasy scenario where, in preparation for The New 52, DC mailed out a packet of the books that came out immediately after Crisis on Infinite Earths with a note attached that said, “This is how your book should feel.” But for some reason all the packages got lost in the mail except the one that was sent to Greg Pak, which he found very confusing because he wasn’t working for DC at the time. But I digress.)

In the first issue of Batman/Superman, the titular characters’ alter egos met cute in the park and where immediately thrust into a maelstrom of misunderstanding and distrust. Superman thought Batman to be a villain (I mean, look at the guy), and Batman thought the same of Superman. But before the two icons where able to sort things out they were teleported to Earth-2 by a mysterious and mystical being named Kaiyo the Trickster, and now there’s two of everybody and Superman’s parents are alive and he’s married to Lois Lane and Batman’s married to Catwoman and then Wonder Woman shows up and our two Earth-1 heroes are very confused.

And it’s all so gloriously fun.

Writer Greg Pak is a comic book veteran and it shows here as he keeps a lot of balls in the air and constructs a story that is increasingly frustrating for the characters while being increasingly fun for the reader. In the case of Batman, in the last issue he meets this impossibly powered dude in a t-shirt, jeans, and cape, and before he can figure out what he’s all about he is sent to an alternate world (There are alternate worlds?) where he meets another version of himself who is older and married to Catwoman (I’m married to who?), and finds a mostly crime-free Gotham City that’s more closely resembles his Metropolis (Arkham Asylum is an amusement park now?). For Superman, he finds both of his Earth parents very much alive, he finds an older version of himself who wears a costume and is married to Lois Lane, and he finds that on Earth-2 Wonder Woman is still very attractive.

What Pak does so brilliantly is play up the juxtapositions for laughs but also for heartache—the most powerful moment being when Earth-1 Superman encounters Jonathan and Martha Kent who in his world died much earlier in his life which results in him being much angrier and less traditionally “Superman-y” than his Earth-2 counterpart. The wave of emotion that hits Superman—the longing, the sorrow, and then the guilt and the shame—is truly and wonderfully heartbreaking. Superman sees what he has been missing out on, and in Superman of Earth-2 he sees what he would have been had he had Ma and Pa to raise him just a little bit longer, and it’s a wonderful character moment that says so much about this New 52 Superman in such an elegant way.

As great as the story is I don’t know if I would love it as much as I do without the gorgeously ethereal Jae Lee and June Chung art. From the delicate line work to the constant fogginess I almost feel like I’m reading a dream. There’s no other comic book that I’m reading that looks this way. The response it evokes is strong—I almost feel like I can reach my hand in the page and wave away the fog or dip into the shadows. Jae Lee isn’t a realist in the way that say an Alex Ross is or a Kevin Maguire, but he pages almost feel more real than theirs do. They feel tangible. Lee has been drawing in this style for a long time now and I never get tired of getting lost in his work.

I’ve lost count of the number of times that I’ve read stories featuring “the first meeting of Superman and Batman.” Hell, I’m reading a prose novel versionright now and in a few years we’re going to see it on the silver screen. Much like origin stories I never get tired of them—I love seeing these two icons, two of my all-time favorite fictional characters, come together and figure each other out as long as the story is fun and interesting and reveals something about the characters in an entertaining way. Right now, two issues in, Batman/Superman can proudly stand among the great stories of the past and can serve as an example to the “first meeting” stories of the future.

Conor Kilpatrick
“So listen, I just got back from this alternate dimension where we were married, so…”
Conor@ifanboy.com

 


Comments

  1. Great, great issue. I still have a couple of books to read, but this is the frontrunner right now.

  2. Only two issues in I’m loving this book. I mean between Greg Pak subtle but sharp writing and Jae lee’s beautiful art their doing something that has been sorely missed through out the new 52. Also the panel where superman from earth-2 ask young Clark if he wants a lift while Clark is leaping great distances in a single bound made me both laugh and smile which is well worth the price.

  3. I had a strong feeling this would be POTW after I finished it. I’ll be re-reading it, along with #1, tonight. I loved everything about this and it will probably be my POTW as well. Really stellar. I have no qualms paying $3.99 for a book this great.

  4. This was great. I loved how much took place between panels. There’s a real storytelling economy/minimalism from this team.

  5. This was a great issue. I didn’t care for the first issue much (my LCS clerk told me “It WAS the first issue”. Not good enough, unless it’s someone like Scott Snyder the first issue should draw you in), but I found a rough diamond in it. This issue reminded me of the times of the Silver Age, where there was confusion, magic or alternate dimensions or “both”. It was just fun. It makes me want to commit to the series.

    I like Jae Lee, but his art in this? Too abstract. Conor talks about it in the review, how things have a dreamlike quality to them. Its the style I really want to see in this book, because I’ve already seen it so much in BW:Ozymandias and The Dark Tower comics. But it’s not a dealbreaker for me.

    A few panels I found jarring, like when everyone’s sitting, the next Flying! But other than that, this might be the spiritual successor to Bruce Timm’s Batman/Superman iterations.

  6. Liked the first issue and looking forward to issue #2. By the way is the prose novel you are reading, the “Enemies &Allies” book by Kevin Anderson that came out a couple of years ago? Just finished that one myself and thought it was good.

    • Yep, that’s the one. I like it okay–it’s not great. Not as good as his Star Wars books.

    • @cskilpatrick I was curious about which prose novel you were referring to as well. Have you done a piece about novels featuring these characters? I’d be interested in some recommendations of where to start…thanks mate.

  7. Awesome issue, to say the least. The story completely grabbed me and never let go. It was visually striking thanks to Lee and is a wonderful departure to most of the cookie-cutter art out there. I agree with what Conor had to say: This is what the New 52 should have been about! Re-introductions in fantastic new ways with a stellar creative team.

    I could go on, but others and Conor have said it all! Unless next issue somehow bombs (yeah, right!) I’m going to be sticking with Bats and Supes for awhile! 🙂

  8. I particularly liked how Lee put so much of the characters in silhouette. Mainly in the Batman sequences but it was a nice way to make the pages interesting without making a Batman v Batman fight generic. Overall a really fun issue even if the formula of ‘Superman meets Batman’ is kinda done to death. Looking forward to how Pak is gonna handle Clark in Action Comics once he takes over.

  9. Seriously amazing review Conor. I have my fingers crossed this book stays amazing and keeps this creative team.

  10. “But before the two icons were able to sort things out they were teleported to Earth-2 by a mysterious and mystical being named Kaiyo the Trickster, and now there’s two of everybody and Superman’s parents are alive and he’s married to Lois Lane and Batman’s married to Catwoman and then Wonder Woman shows up and our two Earth-1 heroes are very confused.”

    Just to clarify, these aren’t Earth-1 heroes they are ‘Prime Earth’ heroes right? I’ve been trying to get it straight as people on other forums keep having different opinions on what all the different Earths are. This is what my understanding is….

    Earth Prime: Where we live, no superheroes.
    Prime Earth: Home to most of the New 52 Titles.
    Earth One: Where the titles Superman: Earth One, Batman: Earth One take place.
    Earth Two: Where the title ‘Earth Two’ takes place and the Batman and Superman that the Prime Earth Superman and Batman run into in Batman/Superman come from.

    So basically my question is…..is the Earth where the New 52 takes place called ‘Prime Earth’ or ‘Earth-1’ like Conor stated? Or is the Batman and Superman from Earth One actually in this title too?

    • For me, where the primary heroes of the DCU live will always be Earth-1. Earth Prime/Prime Earth is stupid.

    • I’ve never heard the term “Prime Earth”, but unless Conor knows something I don’t, I believe the OGN’s by Johns and Straczynski are the Earth 1 Batman and Superman. Between Infinite and Final Crises, the main universe in the DCU was referred to as “New Earth”. I don’t ever remember hearing it be called anything after Morrison reopened the multiverse in Final, but it could’ve had a name.

      In short, I think you’ve got it right. The N52 Batman and Superman that get yanked into Earth 2 in this series are from “Prime Earth” or “New Earth”, not Earth 1.

    • Haha! There ya go. Being of the same generation, I’m actually inclined to agree with Conor. The main DCU should just be Earth 1, because the other designations are too confusing. Or stupid.

    • This is one of the places I saw it mentioned, scroll way to the bottom under New 52.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_DC_Multiverse_worlds

      It makes sense to me that Batman: Earth One and Superman: Earth One take place on Earth One(Or Earth-1) and not Prime Earth being as they are a little different etc from the origins we are used too. I just wish there was an official designation so I knew what is going on, Lol. It seems like everyone has their own interpretations.

  11. Hawkeye Annual came out this week. Did you read it?

  12. Another great issue. I can’t wait to be able to start picking up Action Comics again when Pak takes over.

  13. I reckon a lot of the impact of the art is down to June Chung. Atmospheric to say the least.

    This is the sort of title I’ve been waiting for DC to put out.

  14. Definitely worth pick of the week. It’s funny how this makes me want to know more about the Earth-2 versions of these characters. Like before the Earth Two series happened. Give me a series based on that and I would be set.

  15. Talk about creating atmosphere! Lee and Chung have successfully created a realm where anything can happen and everything feels smoky and sinew-y, but without losing just a touch of the whimsical. Pak is really excelling at having his characters speak volumes by having them speak very succinctly; there’s no monologues or other superhero speak in this book. I am just stunned that this book sits on the rack amongst the other books currently bearing a DC logo. And of course, great write up Conor.

  16. Agree with this pick 100% – it’s mine as well!

  17. As a trade waiter its sometimes hard to wait for certain books to finally arrive in HC or trade. Sometimes, the wait is so hard for me that I actually break my promise to myself to never by floppies again and buy them anyway. This could be one of those times.

    The last I did that was for Death of the Family (which was, while good, a bit of a let down) and All Star Superman!