Comic Books

Batman/Superman #1: Recap and Review

Batman/Superman #1

Writer: Joshua Williamson

Artist: David Marquez

Letters: John J. Hill

Colors: Alejandro Sanchez


Batman and Superman join forces again

Batman and Superman are the two most iconic superheroes in comics. So putting them together in one comic series seems to make sense. I’m personally not familiar with the work of Joshua Williamson and David Marquez, but from what I’ve read they’re both great creators. The familiarity with Superman and Batman allows Williamson to jump right in. Batman/Superman #1, starts off with Clark Kent working on a story at the Daily Planet. Batman calls Clark in a panic. It’s quickly apparent that somethings wrong with Batman. His “voice sounds different,” as Superman notes. He seems petty, as he compares the tragic events that costed them their parents. He believes that “there is nothing that should make them allies.” Confusing Superman.

Batman and Superman in Gotham. Who are the secret six?
Superman arrives to meet Batman

Enter the Batman Who Laughs

When Superman arrives at the Justice League satellite, he witnesses the carnage that the Batman who laughs created. He poisons the air with “kryptonite-infused gas,” as Superman asks why? We return to current time on Earth-O, in Gotham City. Batman is explaining the Batman who laughs to Superman, while Commissioner Gordon waits. He explains that a thirteen year old boy named Danny Mills was kidnapped. According to the boys brother a “laughing Superman” kidnapped him. Batman and Superman leave to search for the boy. Batman asks Superman, “how would he stop an out of control Batman.” Superman crashes through the ground in Crime Alley (where Batman’s parent died) to enter a secret passage below.

Superman being choked by the Shazam who laughs.
Who will win?

Enter the Shazam Who Laughs

Batman and Superman encounter Batdrones in the Batcave of the Batman Who Laughs. They investigate the cave, learning that he has infected his batarangs with the serum that created him. As they question the motives of the other Batman, they notice a “message” on the chess board. When Superman moves a piece, they see an image of the Justice League, the Titans and Teen Titans with x’s on their eyes and lipstick on their mouths. Batman deduces that this is all part of his plan. They can’t know who’s infected, so they would suspect everyone. Suddenly, Batman is attacked by one of the Batman who laughs, Robins. He begins to talk about being “taken from his family and hit with a batarang.” This boy isn’t Danny. It’s Billy Batson. He says Shazam, transforming into the Shazam who laughs.


Conclusion

Batman/Superman #1 was spectacular. There can be a sense of inevitability to the outcome when both Batman and Superman are working together. Who can best them. If they encounter several members of the Justice League that have been infected with the laughing serum, they may not have a easy time. The Batman Who Laughs is a villain that can contend with these to. The writing from Joshua Williamson is magnificent. We get some insight into the relationship between Superman and Batman, while the mystery of what the Batman Who Laughs is up to is intriguing. The art of Marquez is perfect. His detailed art style matches well with the tone of this series. These two together have created a series that is worth reading. I highly recommend it.

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30 Day DC Challenge – Day 30: Favorite DC Event

Final Crisis

Final Crisis is a crossover story that ran from May 2008 to January 2009. Written by Grant Morrison, the limited series spanned 7 issues. Marketed as “the day evil won,” Final Crisis deals with Darkseid as he plots to “overthrow reality.” After the final battle of the New Gods, the spirit of Darkseid travels through time and manifests inside the body of a human being. After finding the dying Orion, detective Dan Turpin, The Justice League of America and the Green Lantern Corps investigate. The learn that he was killed by a Radion bullet that was “fired backwards through time from the future.” Realizing the upcoming threat, Alan Scott enacts “Article X,” preparing the metahuman forces for the war that is coming.

The New Gods manage to remove the greatest obstacles to Darkseid’s master plan. Batman is captured, Hal Jordan framed for murder, Wonder Woman infected by bacteria called Morticoccous, Superman in the future and Flash in the past. Turpin is possessed by the essence of Darkseid, who then subjects Turpin’s body to “bio-genetic restructuring” to recreate Darkseid’s original form. Darkseid’s agents spread the Anti-Life Equation through communication networks, spreading it around the world. As a result, Darkseid gains control over the majority of Earth’s population.

A small group of superheroes manage to resists. A battle between the mind controlled heroes and the resistance. Wonder Woman infects the other heroes with Morticoccous that strips them of their powers. Batman mortally wounds Darkseid with a radion bullet, however, Darkseid kills him with his Omega Beams. Enraged Superman retrieves Batman’s corpse, the Flashes still being chased, lead Black Racer and the Omega Beams that follow them directly to Darkseid. Like most crossovers, Final Crisis is convoluted and not for everyone. The art style shifts from JG Jones to Doug Mahnke, the death of Batman turns out not to matter. Despite all this I still enjoyed Final Crisis, it’s overall entertaining and I did wonder if Darkseid would win.

Well this marks the last day of this challenge. Did you enjoy it? Have another challenge I should consider? Regardless, I appreciated all the comments. Thank you.

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30 Day DC Challenge – Day 27: Favorite DC Comic Book series

Kingdom Come

Kingdom Come was written by Alex Ross and Mark Waid. The series is part of DC comics Elsewords imprint. Featuring the photorealistics art style of Alex Ross, the series focused on a complex story of a future DC universe. Ross created new costumes for most of the characters, he also added several new characters. Set in the year 2020, the Justice League we come to know have mostly retired. They are succeeded by a new more radical generation, that lacks the concern of civilians. They often clash with each other. After a nuclear explosion in Kansas, resulting from Parasite tearing apart Captain Atom, Superman finally comes out of retirement.

Other heroes continued to fight crime, The Flash still patrols around Keystone City, Hawkman protects the forests of the Pacific Northwest, Green Lantern watches Earth from an emerald city in space, Batman (now elderly) uses robots to patrol Gotham. However, other heroes like Aquaman, the Amazons and the Legion of Super-Heroes abandon the world. The four issues results in Superman creating a “reformation center” for superheros called the “Gulag.” It becomes a re-education camp, trying to teach the prisoners how to use their powers.

Lex Luthor and Batman join forces (it doesn’t last long) to create the Mankind Liberation Front. Superman and Captain Marvel fight, a bomb is dropped on the combatants. Captain Marvel sacrifices himself, but the bomb still manages to kill many of the super-humans. Superman and Wonder Woman become pregnant and Batman becomes the godfather. The series Kingdom Come is an epic story with amazing art. It’s one of the few series that gives Superman complexity. I highly recommend this series.

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30 Day DC Challenge – Day 21: Favorite DC City

Metropolis

I’m a New Yorker so my natural affinity is for Metropolis, also the crime rate in Gotham seems a little too high. One of the largest cities in DC, Metropolis is the home of Superman. First appearing in Action Comics #16 on Sept. 1939, Metropolis is a massive city in the Northeastern part of the US. It’s close to Gotham City and is considered to be prosperous. Joe Shuster modeled the skyline after Toronto, but Metropolis looks and feels like NYC. In the comics Metropolis is said to have a population of 11 million.

It’s origins date back to 1542, when navigator Vincenzo Gnanatti discovered the region. Metropolis has six boroughs, eight neighborhoods, four waterways, four parks and of course is home to the Daily Planet. It’s home to heroes, Superman, Black Lightning, Booster Gold, Supergirl and Superboy. It’s also home to villains, Bizarro, Brainiac, Lex Luthor, Doomsday and Toyman. Nicknamed “The Big Apricot,” like New York City’s nickname “The Big Apple.” Unlike Gotham, that’s built on manufacturing and shipping industries, Metropolis is build on it’s tech industry.

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30 Day DC Challenge – Day 18: Hero with the best set of Villains?


This was a contest between the villains of Batman and Superman. To choose which of the class of villains I preferred I wrote a list of the top ten (in my opinion) villains for each of them. Then I compared each villain to another on the other lists. Superman’s villains won by 6-4. My choices are in bold:

  • The Joker /Lex Luther
  • The Riddler /Darkseid
  • Two-Face /Brainiac
  • The Penguin /General Zod
  • Catwoman /Parasite
  • Bane /Bizzaro
  • Mr. Freeze /Toyman
  • Killer Croc /Lobo
  • Scarecrow /Mongul
  • Poison Ivy /Metallo

So won do you think has the best villains, Superman or Batman? Does another DC hero have better ones? Let me know.

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30 Day DC Challenge -Day 13: Favorite Animated DC Movie

All Star Superman

I’ve stated that I find Superman to be a dull hero. Early seasons of Smallville focused on when Superman was a teen which I think was when he was (in my opinion) the most interesting. Regardless, some writers have manage to tell interesting Superman stories. Grant Morrison’s All-Star Superman is one such story. I didn’t read the comic, but did watch the animated version. Generally, I watch animated DC movies out of habit. Some are good other aren’t. I didn’t have too much expectation from this movie, but I enjoy it. Released in 2011, All-Star Superman follows Superman after he becomes even more powerful after an encounter with the sun. However, he starts dying due to radiation poisoning. This is suppose to be the final adventure before Superman dies.

Superman engages in a series of challenges similar to the 12 Labors of Hercules. He reveals his secret identity to Lois Lane. At the Fortress of Solitude, a series of robots concoct a serum that give Lois superpowers for a day. He arm wrestles Atlas and Samson, saves Lois from the Ultra-Sphinx. The animated version isn’t exactly like it’s source material, but it’s a pretty good adaptation. When choosing what to adapt, it’s important to choose carefully. What do you put in, what do you leave out and will you change anything. All Star Superman makes many good choices. One of the most memorable parts of the movie was a scene where Superman as Clark Kent, has to save Lex Luther from the Parasite while maintaining his identity.

Despite the fact that I generally find Superman stories uninteresting, this was one time in which I was proving wrong. While accepting his death, Superman became more human. All Star Superman undermined my expectations. It was funny, clever, and generally entertaining. If Superman stories were more often like this one, I think I would like him more. Finally, the animation was well done, it’s not terrible detailed but that’s fine. If you haven’t seen All Star Superman, I highly recommend it.

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30 Day DC Challenge -Day 9: Least Favorite Villain

Sleez

Universe: Prime Earth
Creators: John Byrne
First App: New Super-Man and the Justice League of China #20 (April, 2018)

To be honest the villains in DC comics can be underwhelming. Sure they great ones like, The Joker, Darkseid, Lex Luther or Doomsday. However, they are many ridiculous villains in the DC Universe, like, Double Down, a former gambler with playing cards sealed to his skin. There’s Orca, a villain that once Grace Balin, a marine biologists. She was paralyzed in a car accident, experimented with Orca tissue. She transformed into a whale like human (with human-whale breasts to boot). She wasn’t even a great villain, as her biggest crime was stealing a diamond to fund projects for the poor. She was killed by another part human, part animal villain, Killer Croc.

However, none of these villain can hold a candle to Sleez. Not a often utilize villain, he was first introduced in Action Comics Vol. 1 #592, A Walk on the Darkside!(1987). In the issue he encounters and kidnaps Big Barda. He forces her to dance for him while he films it. Created by John Byrne, Sleez is an alien from Apokolips. He’s an empath that feeds on the ” baser emotions of the average person and use that energy to bolster his own life force.” He also has the ability to inflame desires. He was so depraved that even Darkseid was disgusted by him and banished him to Earth.

After capturing Superman and Big Barda, he tries to force them into making a sex tape. The only thing that prevents it is Superman’s high morality and intervention from Barda’s husband, Mister Miracle. His hope is to generate enough money to build an army to defeat Darkseid. He makes a return in New Super-Man and the Justice League of China Vol 1 #20 (2018). He attacks Wonder Woman, asking “what’s your deepest darkest desire, baby.” He able to “taste” her sexual desire for Batman. He refers to himself as “uncle Sleez,” and his ability to manipulate results in Superman and the Flash (a female version) kissing. I know that sometimes you run out of ideas, but a perverted villain that forces people into sexual situations is not a good idea.

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30 Day DC Challenge -Day 8: Least Favorite Hero

Superman

Universe: Prime Earth
Creators: Jerry Siegel · Joe Shuster
First App: Flashpoint Vol 2 #5 (October, 2011)

My least favorite hero is probably Superman. Sure there are most likely more terrible superheroes in DC, but he is by far my least favorite of the ones I know. He’s kinda like DC’s Cyclops to me (but more powerful and less terrible). This is not to suggest of course that he’s not one of, if not the most important superhero in comics. Regardless, If you know why I like Batman, then you can guess why I don’t like Superman.

Dumb Secret Identity

I know that in comic books you should suspend disbelief, but I always found his Clark Kent “secret identity” to be hard to tolerate even by comic standards. It’s not the nerdy clumsiness, but the glasses. Or the fact that those glasses ARE the disguise the makes his secret identity. Sure you would look different with or without glasses, but you wouldn’t look like a completely human being. It has spawned the term, Clark Kenting. It’s defined as “the process by which a Secret Identity and/or cover story is maintained over a long period of time by asking the audience to go along with a paper thin disguise.” Several heroes have commented on his weak disguise, Barry Allen states “I still don’t get why you don’t do more to protect your identity. This new Lantern? Kyle? His mask covers most of his face. Smart kid.”

Art by Alex Ross

Too powerful

I generally don’t mind powerful characters, but Superman has been portrayed as so uber powerful that he deliberately has to limit himself. This often suggests that he chooses not to end fights quickly. Sure, the story would suffer if he did. However, you could just limit his power or make the villains stronger, right? I’ll admit that on the few occasions that he let’s loose it has been epic, but I have seen situations get out of hand wondering when he was going to increase his power. This is a limitation that happens with a lot of comic book characters, but with Superman it’s his choice (in the comic universe) to hold back. In other comics it necessary to keep the story interesting. He also is considered to be highly intelligence, but because he’s too powerful he doesn’t use his intellect. Instead he has to focus on only using his fists to fight.

Too good

Is being too good really a bad thing? Yes. Or at least when you trying to make an interesting comic book hero. Superman is a goody good (except in alternate realities), and that makes him boring. He’s also profoundly judgmental of other heroes (although sometimes he’s right). Superman believes that there’s good in EVERYONE, which make him profoundly naive. He’s considered the moral center of the DC Universe. He is also considered by some to be THE nicest character in DC. This often results in the stories told about Superman being dull and uneventful. There never any question about his morals, which means there’s no complexity. Superman’s purity makes him simply uninteresting.

Art by Alex Ross

While its necessary for someone to be the “moral fiber” it can come at a cost. This makes him a dull character. Many writers have attempted to make him more intriguing, by making him into a secret authoritarian. Who secretly believes he better than humanity and that’s why they need him to save them. The truth is that Superman is suppose to represent an ideal that humanity will never reach. However, Superman seems to believe that this is a possibility. This isn’t to say that there has never been an interesting story about Superman. However, most of them require drastically changing his personality or motivations (when they don’t make him outright evil). When Superman has shown a darker side it hasn’t been pretty.

So what do you think. Too unfair? Got any Superman comics that prove me wrong? Who’s your least favorite comic book characters?