Monday, 18 January 2016

Batman/Superman #1 [The New 52] - DC Comics

BATMAN/SUPERMAN No. 1, August 2013
Whilst admittedly bringing about the “return of a book featuring both [“DC Comics” biggest] characters is a no-brainer”, Issue One of “Batman/Superman” provides something of an interesting spin on events, by having Greg Pak’s narrative focus upon the pair’s “very first meeting and relationship” rather than simply a ‘run of the mill’ adventure which indolently relies upon “the star power” of the two superheroes. As a result, this twenty-five page periodical’s plot “takes place around the time” of Grant Morrison’s first edition of “The New 52” “Action Comics” and provides its 143,457 readers with both a “very young… cocky” Man of Steel who “sticks up for the underdog” and “a very early” Dark Knight who sees Clark Kent’s alter ego as “the most dangerous guy I’ve met in my life.”

Understandably such differing viewpoints almost immediately causes some ‘hostility’ between the two comic book legends, with an undercover Bruce in particular finding the meddlesome reporter’s “crusader” attitude one which will cause more harm than good; “Thanks to you, that bully’ll probably come back tomorrow and beat him up twice as hard.” However it isn’t until a possessed Catwoman appears in Metropolis, having apparently murdered three Wayne Enterprises employees that the Caped Crusader and Kal-El actually start to trade blows, and artist Jae Lee draws a genuinely exhilarating punch-up sequence between the ‘dynamic duo.’

Disappointingly though, this incredibly tense, highly stylised ‘fist-fight’ is brought to an all too abrupt end by the Dallas-born writer’s script suddenly having Superman mysteriously transported to Smallville in order to confront a ‘modern-day’ Batman who, quite understandably, knows Clark’s weakness and deploys a kryptonite “automatic defensive system” in order to ‘poison’ him. Such a sudden shift in plot is utterly mystifying, and made all the more jarring by Ben Oliver replacing Lee on pencils until the end of the comic.

Admittedly the former “Judge Dredd” artist still provides this book with plenty of competent panels. Indeed the British illustrator’s depiction of an enraged, albeit somewhat weakened, Big Blue Boy Scout brutally clobbering an off-guard Dark Knight is extremely well sketched. But Oliver’s style is so markedly different to that of Jae that all the wonderfully engaging, depressingly grim atmosphere created by this magazine’s opening eighteen pages is irrevocably undone by the simple turning of a page…
The regular cover art of "BATMAN/SUPERMAN" No. 1 by Jae Lee with June Chung

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