Mild Mannered Reviews - Specials

Superman & Batman: Generations II #4

Superman & Batman: Generations II #4

Scheduled to arrive in stores: November 28, 2001

Cover date: January 2002

Writer: John Byrne
Penciller: John Byrne
Inker: John Byrne

Reviewed by: Michael Bailey (

2008: This Ancient Evil

In the year 2008 faceless robots put the final touches on an armored form as the brain inside wakes up. The brain is very upset about the turn of events and knocks the robots that revived him aside and breaks through the wall to the outside. At first the brain is in awe of his strength but becomes disoriented and confused when he sees the outside world for the first time.

At the home of Wally and Magda West two generations of Flashes watch as Wally's son Jay assumes the mantle. Before Jay goes for his first "run" his mother warns him to be careful.

Knightwing waits outside of Gotham Penitentiary happy that the day he had been waiting ten years for has come. Amanda Mason finally comes out and the two embrace in a passionate kiss. Amanda has second thoughts about their relationship but Knightwing tells her they are past that and the two fly off.

At a Gotham City hospital a doctor leads Bruce Wayne to his wife, who is dying. The doctor is somewhat surprised that the two are still married after all the years they lived apart and asks Bruce Wayne, who is wearing his Batman uniform, if his son is coming. Batman tells the doctor that his son will be there as soon as he can, but Bruce, Jr., farther to come. Bruce's wife thanks him for coming and after a brief conversation Bruce, Jr., arrives. The three exchange pleasantries before Bruce's wife explains that she has something to tell them before she dies.

Back in Metropolis the robot runs afoul of the police who order him to stop. The robot laughs and says that the information the robot body is feeding to his brain tells him that the body has enough power to deal with them. He adds that the next time they address him they should call him Metallo. Suddenly a metal plate with the word "Metal-O" drops at Metallo's feet as Knightwing arrives on the scene. He knocks Metallo back with a single blow but Metallo manages to hit him with a blast of green energy. As Knightwing comes at him again Metallo informs him that his systems have briefed him on who Knightwing is and before the young hero can make another move Metallo unleashes the source of his power; Kryptonite.

The two trade blows again before the new Flash arrives on the scene. Flash's inexperience nearly gets him killed before Knightwing pulls him out of the way. Blackhawk and Cyborg arrive on the scene and try to take Metallo down but the villain unleashes a giant burst of energy that takes out power all over the city.

In Washington, DC the President is briefed on the situation in Metropolis. He decides the only thing he can do is use the signal device that was given to him to summon some "special help."

Back in Metropolis the Flash comes to and finds Cyborg near death. The half-man/half-machine goes into emergency mode and the hero's limbs snap off his body to allow Flash an easier time of carrying him. Metallo continues his reign of destruction when Green Lantern arrives. He creates two buzz saws with his ring, which cuts Metallo's limbs off and catches the portion containing the brain in a bubble.

Green Lantern, Knightwing and the other heroes track down where Metallo came from and go there. Knightwing makes the guess that the brain inside Metallo is actually the Ultra-Humanite. The robots tell him that this isn't the case. They had originally been programmed to serve Ultra and that Ultra had them transplant his brain from his own crippled body into the relatively undamaged body of Lex Luthor. They discovered that Luthor's brain, which was placed into suspended animation, had a spark of life in it and had spent the last sixty-nine years rebuilding it. They had hoped to cure Luthor's criminal tendencies but this didn't happen. Knightwing says that he is almost relieved that despite the fact that his grandfather spent a decade in the Phantom Zone he did not actually commit the crime he was imprisoned for.

After that is cleared up Clark Wayne (Knightwing) and Amanda Mason are finally married with Hal Jordan acting as best men and having the ironic honor of giving Clark the ring.

2019: Father to the Man

Batman (Bruce Wayne Senior) flies the Batplane to Superman's Fortress of Solitude at the request of Knightwing. Once the two heroes are inside Knightwing reveals the reason he called the Dark Knight when Superman flies into the room. After the old friends reunite the Man of Steel leads Batman to the Hall of Krypton, which had been recently been rebuilt to reveal the purpose of his visit.

Once inside the Hall Superman shows Batman one of his Kryptonian artifacts called a Chronoscope. The Chronoscope allows the viewer to watch events backwards and forwards in time. After Knightwing vouches for the authenticity of the device Superman shows Bruce the first part of a message left by Jonathan Kent ninety-nine years before. Knightwing had discovered the message when it began beeping several days before. With that, Superman, Batman and Knightwing watch the message.

It begins with Pa Kent telling the story of when young Clark first showed him the Chronoscope. After showing Pa what he will look like as an adult Superman Clark displays the history of Batman, which goes back to when a mugger killed Bruce Wayne's parents a few months from now. Pa and Clark decide to try and warn the Waynes about their fate when the Waynes open a Family Planning Clinic the next day.

The Chronoscope cuts to the next day when Pa and Clark arrive at the County Seat and check into a hotel. Once they are settled into their room Clark puts on his Superboy uniform for the first time. Superboy flies out of the window and after making a public appearance to an awed crowd the Boy of Steel sets out to find the Waynes.

At that very moment the Ultra-Humanite is in town and sets out to kidnap young Bruce Wayne. Superboy arrives in time to see a giant vehicle snatch the Wayne's car. Ultra's henchmen knock out the Wayne's driver but before they can get to the Wayne's Superboy tears into the vehicle and knocks out the henchmen. Ultra acts quickly and hits the Boy of Steel with a gun that fires an electrostatic blast which knocks the young hero unconscious.

Superboy wakes up outside with the Waynes as Ultra takes off with Bruce. As Superboy launches in pursuit Ultra's vehicle shifts into flight mode. When Ultra's henchmen inform him that Superboy is in pursuit the villain unleashes a cloud of thick, black smoke that even Superboy's x-ray vision can't penetrate.

Meanwhile at a theatrical costuming warehouse Ultra has his henchmen lock Bruce away and goes to inform the Waynes of his demands. Inside the store room Bruce uses a technique taught to him by Harry Houdini to get out of the ropes he was tied up with. Seeing some costumes nearby Bruce forms a plan.

Superboy finally tracks down where Ultra is hiding by following the gas fumes that the flying truck left. Ultra hits him with another electrostatic shock and one of his henchmen urges Ultra to kill Superboy when Bruce, disguised as the Flying Fox, takes the group by surprise. The two costumed heroes team-up and make short work of Ultra's men. During the battle Superboy uses his x-ray to discover that the Flying Fox is Bruce Wayne and muses over the irony that a flying fox is a bat foreshadowing Bruce's future.

Ultra tries to use his electrostatic gun to kill the two boys when Pa Kent bursts in and fires his shotgun. The blast cuts Ultra's backpack in half and the shock shatters his spine. After the authorities are called and Superboy takes Ultra and his men away Pa tells the elder Wayne he has something to speak to him about. Pa takes Thomas Wayne to the Chronoscope and shows him the future. Thomas Wayne leaves after making the comment that if he takes steps to avoid the coming event there will be no Batman.

Fifty-seven days later Ma Kent points out the story in the paper about the death of Thomas and Martha Wayne to Pa. Pa runs to the cellar in disbelief to use the Chronoscope to see what went wrong. The viewer shows Thomas and Martha Wayne preparing to go out with their son the night they were killed talking about their impending fate. Bruce runs in telling them they are going to be late and the parents tell their son how much they love him. After Bruce runs off Thomas tries to tell Martha how he feels about her, but Martha says that she always has known how much Thomas loved her. With that the message ends leaving Batman with the truth that his parents knew they were going to die and let it happen anyway.

Sometime later Superman and Knightwing join Bruce at his parent's graveside. After Superman asks how he is doing Bruce explains that he has begun to understand why his parents did what they did. Without the childhood drama of his parents death there never would have been a Batman. Bruce goes on to say if his parents had lived he would have used the money his father accumulated to do good deeds and Superman completes the thought by saying that Gotham would have lost its greatest weapon, a sword made as strong as it was only because it was tempered in fire. As the three heroes walk away Bruce wonders if all the lives he touched and the legacies he left were all his parents had hoped it would be when they made the ultimate sacrifice.

5Story - 5: This last issue does what every great last issues should do. It makes you want more.

"This Ancient Evil"

While the second story in this issue is much better in my opinion the first one is very entertaining and both cleans up a loose end from the previous series and sets up another for potential future series.

I have to admit that I didn't see the subplot with Knightwing and Amanda Mason coming. Despite this I rather liked it. It also makes sense with Knightwing's "bat-heritage." I've always felt that Bruce Wayne Sr.'s wife was Selina Kyle, so to have the adopted grandson of Batman fall in love with a reformed villain has a nice sense of unity.

Speaking of Batman's wife, I actually found the scene with Bruce, Sr., Bruce, Jr., and Mrs. Wayne (who, as stated, I believe to be Selina Kyle) was moving in its own way. Maybe this is my own personal experience coming through (I lost my mother when I was 17 and scenes with frail women in hospitals tend to bring up the memories), but it was a very well done sequence and the bit at the end where she had something to tell them tripped the eyebrow meter. I don't think this was resolved in the previous series as there was very little said about Bruce's wife, but if it was I completely missed it.

Despite the fact that we saw very little of them, the new Flash and Cyborg were entertaining. One of the things I like about DC over Marvel is that heritage angle and Byrne does a good job of playing with this. The new Flash reminded me of Wally West right around the time of the Legends mini-series. Cyborg was cool, but that has more to do with the fact that I really like the character than anything he actually did.

It was also nice to see that Byrne made Hal Jordan the new Green Lantern. I love Kyle to death but it does this fanboy's heart good to see Hal back in the saddle and the fact that he was the one to save the day made mine. It may have taken away from Knightwing, but Byrne had been setting this up for two issues now so here was the payoff.

The new Metallo was great on two fronts. One, while I had a feeling that the brain belonged to Luthor I was happy to see that this is what happened to Luthor's brain after the Humanite took over LL's body. I like to see loose ends tied up and this was a great way to do it. Metallo has always been one of my favorite underused Superman villains and bringing the two bad guys together was very entertaining.

I enjoyed the first story immensely. Little did I know that it would pale in comparison to the second story.

"Father to the Man"

Keeping with the "future flashback" theme from the first series we get yet another glimpse into the adventures of Superman (and Batman) when he was a boy. The revelation from this issue made the one from the first issue seem paltry in comparison.

I really enjoyed seeing the Pa Kent from this reality. Byrne made the character seem very real and filled him with life. You could see that the relationship between adopted father and son was very strong, which I have always felt was important. Alive or dead Ma and Pa Kent should always be the reason Superman became the man and hero he is. The fact that Pa saved the day was neat and spoke volumes for the character. Here was a man who didn't just sit in a chair or stand on a ladder putting up stock while giving a young Clark Kent advice. This Pa was packing heat and not afraid to cripple a man in defense of his son.

The other neat thing about Pa saving the day at the end is it gives us a chance to see Superman (or in this case Superboy) who was just starting and making mistakes. I think too often we as fans take Superman and his experience for granted. While he is Superman he is a man and men are prone to mistakes. Superboy got knocked around quite a bit and you would think that this would upset me since I am such a Superman fan. It was just the opposite. It was really cool to see Superboy screwing up and getting things wrong. It brought the character down to a more believable level.

On a weird side note I thought it was very interesting that the Waynes were opening a free family planning clinic. If I am remembering my History Channel 1920 was around the time that the movement for family planning began. This was quite controversial for it's time. I could be wrong about this and getting my dates confused but if I'm right this was a nice touch to throw into the story.

Then there was the revelation about the Waynes. This was heavy stuff. Usually stories that have to do with time travel (or some variation thereof) give me a migraine almost immediately. I think time travel and knowledge of one's future can be used effectively, but the implications are always bigger than the story. Devices like the Chronoscope are very Silver Age and usually put me off. Byrne made it work though. He made it work because there was a heart and soul behind the idea that had resonance and impact.

The fact that the Waynes knew about their fate and faced it anyway for the good of all Gotham was moving and emotional. The scenes with Thomas and Martha the night of the murder was strong, the strongest of the series. Stronger than Kara dying on her and BJ's wedding day because while that sequence was meant to ape the grim and gritty era of comics the Wayne's sequence was all about heroism and self-sacrifice, which is one of the main pieces of foundation of Batman. Byrne also added some nice touches, such as showcasing both versions of the origins as different possibilities of how the mugging would go down. Originally it was Martha's weak heart that killed her and only later was she shot. It was a fanboy moment to be sure but an enjoyable one.

This was a fitting end to the series. While I enjoyed the other heroes I liked the fact that Byrne had the final story about Superman and Batman. He further linked the connection between the two and paid homage to the older stories where they were the best of friends. I have no problem with the current relationship but part of me digs a world where Superman and Batman are chums.

I have two final thoughts on this series the first having to do with why comics should remain timeless. The opening scene where Batman was landing at the Fortress made me realize why you can't age characters beyond Elseworlds stories. Batman talks about the Key to the Fortress still being disguised as an airplane marker and how that is useless these days. This started a line of thinking that was continued into the dialogue between Knightwing and Batman about how all the great villains are gone and the new ones aren't as good or as much of a threat as the older ones.

This made me realize that while Elseworlds stories like this are great I truly believe that natural aging in comics is not the best idea. Sure it would add a level of realism, but it would also cheat future generations out of some truly great characters. It would be interesting to see Batman age and his villains either die or "retire" but then readers of comics yet to come would not get to know characters like Lex Luthor or the Joker or Two-Face and so on. This may seem like a total fanboy point of view, but I believe this to be true. I think it is selfish of us to want to make too many changes to the characters we read now because then our kids and such would be swindled out of knowing them. The key is to update not age.

The second and final thought is a simple and not one I have that often. I really think that this could and should spin off into one of the first ongoing Elseworlds series. There is so much to play with and I really think Byrne has it in him to do so. I usually don't like to make such statements, but in this case I will make an exception. This series was so well done that I really want more.

And I don't think I'm alone in thinking that.

5Art - 5: Byrne's art was very solid throughout. He really went all out on the final issue and made for some very eye-pleasing work.

The art in the second story was better than the first, but that is not to say that "This Ancient Evil" had poor artwork. I really like Byrne's Flash. It reminded me of Byrne's Flash from Legends right down to the shot where the Flash had been knocked out. His Cyborg was bulkier than his past versions of the character. My only sore spot for this story was Green Lantern. There was something that is just off about this version of the character. He almost looks emaciated.

"Father to the Man" had some nice artwork. The Batman was very strong and imposing. Superman was the same and I really liked the designs for the Fortress of Solitude. It gave a look at the Krypton of this reality and that's always a good thing.

Superboy, like Green Lantern, was a bit off for me. He looked like a boy who hasn't been eating enough. He and the young Bruce Wayne was a definite improvement over Byrne's usual young character design.

Overall the two best bits of art from the issue had to be the sequence where the Waynes were preparing to go out and the final page. There was a lot of emotion with the Waynes portion. So much pain and love at the same time. The final page had a nice look to it as well. The dark coloring was very pleasing and sent the series off in style.

The art was Byrne at his best. Usually when he inks himself Byrne can be weak, but in this case it has been a real joy. Overall I liked it and would like to see more.

5Cover Art - 5: The best part of this cover had to be the fact that Green Lantern's face was obscured. It made you really want to pick it up and see which GL was going to be in this issue. The design was similar to the others and kept with the theme but this issue seemed to be have stronger art. I liked it. Putting the four covers together would make for an interesting poster.

Mild Mannered Reviews


Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.

January 2002

February 2002 March 2002 April 2002 May 2002 June 2002 July 2002 August 2002 September 2002 October 2002 November 2002 December 2002

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