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Superman/Batman: Generations III #11

Superman/Batman: Generations III #11

Scheduled to arrive in stores: November 12, 2003

Cover date: January 2004

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

"Century 29: Little Girls Lost"

Reviewed by: Michael Bailey

The younger Lana Lang and Lois Lane wander in astonishment around the strange, futuristic landscape they had found themselves in after leaving the Time Bubble. After asking one of the locals the girls are shocked to discover that they are in Smallville, but Lois follows with the question of when it is as well. The citizen they are questioning becomes annoyed and walks off in a huff, leaving the girls to deal with the fact that they are probably in the future.

Lois and Lana stumble onto a museum that Lana first believes to be dedicated to Superboy, but Lois is quick to point out that it looks more like a Superman. The shocks and surprises don't stop as Lois and Lana come upon a holo-image of an adult Lois Lane and Superman with the words "Superman's 20th Century Wife LOIS LANE." Lana runs off in a near-panic at the thought and tries to find out what happened to her. Lois cautions her to stop running around and finds her staring at another exhibit featuring Superman's friends from Metropolis and an image of Clark Kent changing to Superman. Lana is ecstatic at the revelation, happy that after all those years that she suspected Clark to be Superboy she was finally proven right.

As Lois begins to ask who Clark Kent is a robot attendant walks up to them to see if they need any help. In talking with the robot they find out that Superman is still alive and fighting Parademons outside the protective dome with the other superheroes. The girls search for a way to find Superman since the Parademons that the robot mentioned sounded a lot like what they saw back in their time. After finding an air vent, Lois and Lana slowly make their way outside. As they follow the vent the air flow becomes much stronger and Lois and Lana are caught in the flow and blown outside.

The two hit the ground hard and find an area scarred by battle. In the distance they see explosions, which Lois, as an army brat, recognizes are not conventional explosives. They run forward and find Superman, Batman and his fellow heroes battling a squad of Parademons. As they watch the battle unfold a lone Parademon sneaks up and tries to attack them. Lois and Lana are rescued by the great-granddaughter of Superman, who bears a strong resemblance to Lois. She takes Lois and Lana to Superman, who is surprised to see them. They explain how they got there and Superman is again surprised that they would leave a Legion of Super-Heroes Time Bubble in the middle of the street.

Batman, on the other hand, is curious how they were able to find the Bubble in the middle of a few hundred acres of Kansas farmland. Lana finds the Bubble and Lois asks if they should enter. Though Superman initially suspects a trap he realizes that the Time Bubble may be what they have been looking for. Batman agrees and Superman continues by telling the group that somehow the Bubble is able to move back and forth through time without being affected by the "temporal barrier" that had thrown the Man of Steel a hundred years into the past when he tried to fly to the 30th Century. Lois is confused at first, but Superman's great-granddaughter explains that an evil man named Darkseid has been attacking Earth every one hundred years like clockwork. He started working backwards through time starting at the 30th Century, but he had also created a distortion effect that prevented anyone from moving forward through time to try and stop him.

Lana wonders if they could use the Bubble to travel to 2995 to end the war and Superman agrees. Batman concurs, but informs them that they have one more job to do before that as Lois and Lana need to be taken back to 1925. Once they reach their destination the group travels to the home of the Kents where they find the injured Saturn Girl and a confused Ma and Pa Kent. Batman tends to Saturn Girl's wounds while Superman explains what is going on to his confused adoptive parents. When Saturn Girl feels well enough to travel he calls Lois and Lana into the room. Superman's great-granddaughter informs him that she took care of some soldiers who were trying to enter the house while Superman introduces Lois to his parents.

Batman tells Saturn Girl that she needs to wipe the memories of everyone in a thousand miles and plant a suggestion into Superboy's head that will allow Superman to eventually remember all of what had transpired. Lois starts to raise a fuss, but Batman tells her that she can't live her entire life knowing that Superboy is Clark Kent or that Bruce Wayne will become Batman. Lana agrees and goes on to say that she finally sees the danger in the knowledge that Clark Kent is Superboy. She asks for one favor before Saturn Girl performs the memory wipe and Superman replies that he will if it is in his power. Lana asks for a kiss, a real kiss just once before he goes. Superman is concerned and points out that she is only fourteen. Lana tells him that nobody there is going to call the cops and confesses that she had always dreamed that one day she would marry him and they would have children and live happily ever after. She knows now that it can never be and asks if one kiss is too much to ask before sending her back to all the dreams that can never come true. Superman agrees and kisses her.

Afterwards, Saturn Girl puts a mental lock on Lois, Lana and Ma and Pa Kent. Batman takes Lois back to her father's base camp while Saturn Girl shows them where she parked her Time Bubble. Superman moves it to the field where Lois and Lana found it and wait for Lana and Lois to board the Bubble before leaving. Saturn Girl informs them that the instruments of the Bubble will read that her life functions have ceased if she disappears from that time period, which will send the Bubble back to the 30th Century with Lois and Lana aboard.

While they travel back to the 30th Century Batman wonders why they weren't there to fight alongside her during Darkseid's first attack. Saturn Girl replies that some of the great heroes were there, but Superman and Batman did not show up. Superman asks why the Time Bubble can move forwards through time but nothing else. Saturn Girl's theory is that while Darkseid is striking deeper and deeper into the past the Parademons had not begun to make that move when she left the battlefield. This created an intangible cord created by the Time Bubble that provided a path for it to follow and since it was created before the temporal barrier they can travel along it.

Suddenly, the Time Bubble lands in the 30t Century and the heroes are faced with a horrific landscape of destruction with great blasts on energy falling to the ground.

5Story - 5: This was a really good issue.

Let me say that again, this was a really good issue of this series.

In going over my previous reviews I realized that I have fallen prey to that common sin amongst comic fans and that is judging a series before reading the entire story has played itself out. I have made several comments concerning the fact that the series was slow or that Byrne was going off on tangents while ignoring the ongoing plot. While I will probably make the same mistake again since I am one of the most impatient people on the face of the planet I will not make it regarding this series.

Of course there is only one more issue to go, so that makes that vow a little easier to keep.

Byrne really dug deep and got into the heads of his characters all the while advancing the story to its conclusion. I have been waiting for Byrne to get back to the younger Lois Lane and Lana Lang and not only did I get my wish I got it in spades.

Lana Lang has often been overlooked as a character. Her Pre-Crisis incarnation had a little depth given to her in later years but overall she was the Lois Lane of Superman's past and spent most of her time trying to prove that she was right about Clark and Superboy being one and the same. In the current comics, as established by Byrne, she had moved to the role of Clark's first love and the one that was left behind, in a sense, when Clark realized his destiny. She is the small town girl who watches her boyfriend leave and become one of the most important people on the planet. While her role has been pumped up lately (with the ill-advised marital problems between Pete and Lana, a relationship I had always felt worked) and while Byrne and later Stern, Simonson and Ordway have done wonders with the character I feel that this issue showed her in the most mature and realistic light.

Lana's initial reaction to learning she was right was dead on perfect. At the same time her reaction to the realization that with great knowledge comes great responsibility was also perfect, especially when you consider that in one brief moment everything she had known had changed and reality informed her that life was not going to go the way she had always planned. Her life as the wife of Superboy and mother of his children was gone, replaced by a life of wondering what could have been. This is why her request of one final kiss did not creep me out as much as it could have because while she was only fourteen she also had suddenly become more adult than she had ever been. I think Superman realized this and coupled with the guilt he must have felt at the fact that he had inadvertently hurt this poor girl made his agree with her request.

Now it could be said that none of the characterization matters because after this series she won't remember it, but that's not the point. It's not the point of the story and it's not the point of the Generations series as a whole. Generations works because while we pretty much know what happened to certain characters we also get surprises as John Byrne comes up with these little stories that crawl into the heads of the characters and explains their motivations. In this sense issue eleven is a resounding success.

Beyond that I thought the story was strong on its own. While Lois Lane didn't get as much attention as Lana she showed some character as well, taking everything she discovers in stride. Lois wasn't the focus, but she was an important component none the less.

What struck me about this issue more than Lana was the fact that Byrne has seemingly set up the perfect out to make the events of the story never happen. I could be wrong, but my feeling is that by changing a key event, the death of Saturn Girl, Superman and Batman changed everything about the story and will end up negating the events because they will never happen.

Again, I could be wrong about this. I am shooting in the dark and going with my gut feeling, but I think that in the end this Superman and Batman and his great-granddaughter will end up sacrificing themselves leaving the younger Clark and Bruce from the first issue to live out their lives without having to deal with the Parademons. This will not in any way change my feelings about the story, but this is usually how these time travel stories go. Not only that, but with all the compromises the heroes have made it makes sense that they would sacrifice themselves to atone for those actions, but also to leave a world that didn't have to go through the tragedy they had to face.

Then again Byrne could pull the rug out from under me and do something else. I'll know in a month.

In the end I look forward to the final issue, not because I want the story will end, but because I want to see how Byrne wraps the whole thing up. I want to see what happened and how the destruction the heroes witnessed on the final page occurred. I want to see if Superman's great-granddaughter's deception is revealed and how Superman and Batman feel about that.

More than anything I want to see the heroes succeed and witness the end to one of the most interesting Superman and Batman stories ever produced.

4Art - 4: I have said in the past that I believe that Byrne has a problem drawing children. Sometimes you can't tell the girls from the boys. This issue proves that he can draw them and draw them well. Lois and Lana did not look anything alike. Lois was shorter, more like a tomboy. Lana was taller, leaner and a little more lady like. Byrne threw in some great expressions as well, such as the look on Lois' face when she is introduced to the Kents. It said, to me at least, "Hey, I'm just here," and was wonderful.

Overall Byrne drew a really solid issue. His characters were strong and dynamic, as were his page layouts. His backgrounds were well detailed and he knew when to draw attention to the characters by having little or no background at all, such as the scene where Superman and crew are traveling to the 30th Century. The images matched the writing and the two complimented each other. Like the story I look forward to the art in the final issue as I believe Byrne will pull out all the stops for the series' conclusion.

5Cover Art - 5: This was a simple but effective cover. The look of shock and surprise on Lois and Lana's faces at the horror of Superman and Batman in battle was pleasing to the eye. While it wasn't the strongest on the Grab Me meter, I feel that it stands up as one of the better covers from the series.

Mild Mannered Reviews


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

January 2004

February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004

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