How often was the long running Batman/Superman less about story and more about selling the top two superheroes as brands? So often I’d pick this series up and realize the second class artists and cliched stories were only there because it needed to be filled with something. So color me surprised when I saw Greg Pak and Jae Lee’s names on the cover of the rebooted series. Superman/Batman makes its New 52 return…is it good?
Batman/Superman (2013-) #1 (DC Comics)
Since this is a number one issue there isn’t anything to fill you in on. This issue picks up with Clark Kent visiting Gotham. He quickly meets Bruce Wayne who seems to be moderating a street fight between children. It’s an interesting and poignant first contact between the characters. The crazy thing about this issue is how it seems to be jumping forward in time in the last third of the issue with a fight scene going from their first meeting in their costumes to today.
This bit of confusion aside, the story works and has just enough newness to make it shine. How often have we seen these characters spar? Too many to count, but opening the issue with Bruce inadvertently teaching some children to defend themselves, and Supes running in to save them, perfectly personifies these characters. Batman is about thinking ahead, planning and practice utilizing shades of grey to win while Superman rushes in to save the day. Greg Pak clearly gets these characters, at least at their core, and it’s safe to say he’s going to be handling the characters well moving forward.
Dang, look at those trees!
The art is split up between Jae Lee and Ben Oliver with 18 pages going to Lee and seven to Oliver. It’s not a jarring change though, and it reminds me of how Marvel is splitting up the artistic duties on Guardians of the Galaxy. One artist gets a natural section so that it doesn’t change mid sequence. Lee’s work is once again jaw dropping and it’s always a joy to see his architectural panels and backgrounds. Hell, even the Bat cape he gives Batman is more complicated than I’ve ever seen before. And dare I say super cool, even if it does look cumbersome.
Sick cape dude!
Oliver gets the odd portion of the story that seems to have teleported the characters into the future. It’s hard to say for sure though which makes this read a tad frustrating. For all I know the bad guy is inside their heads. Who knows?
Superman vs. Piano. Who ya got?
- Jae Lee can do no wrong
- Fantastic opening scene between Clark and Bruce
- Confusing twist
This is a strong first issue that I’m sure most fans will eat right up. We get a great scene between Bruce and Clark when they first meet, a bunch of Superman vs. Batman pages and a villain with some interesting powers. The confusing bit at the end could be read as a nice bit of misdirection, but something about its delivery seemed lazy in this reviewer’s humble opinion. Let’s face it though, Superman has a hit movie in theaters and everyone loves Batman. How is this book not going to sell out?
I suppose nitpickers might point out Jae Lee’s art looks a little too familiar here and there, particularly his rendition of children and some of the creepy trees and cityscapes. I could have sworn I’ve seen some of the images in this book in his work on Before Watchmen and Dark Tower.
Is It Good?
Yes. A strong first issue that gives this title the credibility it deserves.