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Superman/Batman #6

Superman/Batman #6

Scheduled to arrive in stores: February 18, 2004

Cover date: March 2004

Writer: Jeph Loeb
Penciller: Ed McGuinness
Inker: Dexter Vines

World's Finest (Part Six): "Final Countdown"

Reviewed by: Michael Bailey



At the foot of Mt. Fuji in Japan Superman and Batman are led by Hiro Okamura to a large ship that has been designed to look like an amalgamation of the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight. Hiro explains that the space craft, which he calls The Composite Superman/Batman Rocket Ship, not only has enough firepower to take out the Kryptonite asteroid headed towards Earth but has also been constructed using the Metallo alloy, which he claims was created by his grandfather. Superman and Batman are curious what Hiro knows about John Corben, also known as Metallo. Hiro tells them he wouldn't tell them even if he did know, adding that he wants the metal back since it belongs to his family.

Superman, weakened by the Kryptonite radiation that is bombarding the Earth, prepares to board the ship, but the sudden appearance of a Boom Tube stops him. Captain Atom steps out the Tube and informs Superman that he is the one who has to pilot the rocket or the planet will be destroyed. Superman is defiant but Captain Atom produces a Kryptonite ring and channels his own energy through it rendering Superman unconscious. Batman aims an energy weapon at the Captain and asks how he obtained the ring and the information on where they would be. Atom explains that when he absorbed Major Force's energy he was blown into the future. There he met that era's Superman, who told him that despite the fact that he was able to destroy the asteroid the radiation still killed all life on the Earth. The future Superman had traveled to the past to give them a warning, but had failed. Atom was his last hope and Superman told him where the Kryptonite ring and space craft would be.

Atom continues by explaining that he can absorb the radiation from the asteroid. Batman tells him he'll die, but Captain Atom is committed to going. He hands Batman the ring and assumes control of the rocket, which takes off into space.

In Metropolis Luthor hovers over a group of reporters in his new armor explaining that while he may look silly it is necessary to combat the threat that Superman poses. Perry White, Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane watch the President rant with Lois quietly asking where Superman is. Suddenly Superman arrives and attacks Luthor. The two begin to trade blows and Luthor reveals that the armor comes directly from Apokolips. As he takes a direct hit Superman tells Luthor that Darkseid will betray him. Luthor replies that Darkseid has always been his ally and that it was Darkseid who alerted him to the presence of the asteroid, its origins and why it is drawn towards Superman. Superman begins to fight back and finally breaks through Luthor's shield and knocks him to the ground.

Meanwhile Captain Atom pilots the rocket towards the asteroid. He opens up a starlog in the hopes that future generations will understand his actions and see him in a different light. He begins with his origins as a man who only wanted to serve his country. He rose to the rank of Captain in the United States Air Force and was good at his job. Then came the day he was falsely convicted of treason and was given the choice to either go to prison or take part in a top secret experiment involving an alien alloy. The experiment succeeded, but not in the way the military wanted it to. Nathaniel Adam was blown into the future and tied forever with the Quantum Field. He tried his best to prove himself as a hero, but things never seemed to work out for him. Atom saw his working for the President, even though it was Luthor, as a way to do something for him.

His task was not a pretty one. They had to bring in Superman, but Atom managed to balance the team as best he could. Though he had to work with Major Force he knew that John Stewart would watch out for him. Starfire had passion, but Black Lightning could be counted on to be level headed. He also gambled that Katana and Power Girl's loyalty to Batman and Superman could be used to his advantage. They also kept him in check. As he approaches the asteroid Atom asks that humanity forgive him for wanting to be a hero as beloved as Superman and his final words before the asteroid was destroyed was for God to bless America.

Back on Earth Luthor finds himself in the vacant offices of Lexcorp. Batman is there and informs him that he will be the first President that will go to prison and that everything he told Superman about Darkseid and the asteroid has been broadcast all over the world. Luthor wonders where everyone is and why the offices are empty. Batman explains that Talia has depleted his resources and sold off all of his assets, adding that as of that morning Bruce Wayne owns the building and he wants Luthor out.

Luthor lashes out at Batman and tells him that he has been injecting himself with a mixture of the steroid Venom and liquid Kryptonite. Batman fights back but Luthor activates a blade in his armor and stabs Batman with it. Batman throws a vicious side kick, which knocks Luthor through a window. Luthor hangs precariously from the ledge and tries to make a deal with Batman using the identity of the killer of Bruce Wayne's parents. Batman tells him that there will be no deals and that he is going to jail. Luthor lets go of his grip and plummets to the ground, but manages to activate a Boom Tube to make his escape.

Superman joins Batman on the roof of the Daily Planet building and informs him that the Boom Tube blew out the bottom floors of the Lexcorp Towers. Batman is curious about the surrounding areas, but Superman assures him that he managed to clear out a five block radius before telling Batman he needs medical care. Suddenly Lois tells everyone to look up in the sky and they see meteorites burning up in the atmosphere; the last remnants of the asteroid that Captain Atom destroyed.

Superman spends hours digging through the debris to find Luthor. He doesn't, blaming most of it on the fact that there was so much lead in the building. He tells Batman that it's ironic that Luthor was so paranoid about Superman spying on him and now that he wants to find Luthor he can't. In the days that follow Batman tracks the vast majority of the Kryptonite that fell to Earth while Superman stays hidden away in the Fortress until Batman is sure that the Kryptonite is secure. Batman also gains access to S.T.A.R. Labs' records and discovers, as Superman suspected, that the information regarding Corben and the Wayne's deaths was planted by Luthor to distract him. Batman knew that even though Luthor had no idea that Batman and Bruce Wayne were one and the same Batman would still want to solve that crime. In the end Luthor never counted on the fact that Batman would put his friendship with Superman above that.

Meanwhile, under the debris of the Lexcorp Towers an injured Lex Luthor crawls into a clearing. His eyes glowing green he tells himself that there will be a reckoning... a crisis.

4Story - 4: Don't get me wrong. I liked this issue and, on the whole, liked the conclusion of the "World's Finest" story-arc. I feel it was a strong way to introduce the series and further establish the relationship between Superman and Batman. Jeph Loeb has shown a masterful understanding of the motivations of both characters and there has been some interesting characterization peppered throughout the story.

Loeb seems to have told the story he set out to tell. All of the loose ends have been tied up and the story's conclusion was exciting and set up a new era for Lex Luthor. From the look of things Luthor is going back to being a true criminal instead of a man who does his misdeeds behind the veneer of a respectable businessman or President. I like this and look forward to seeing how it plays out.

I was happy to see that the "Corben as the killer of Bruce Wayne's parents" storyline turned out to be a red herring. Tying Metallo into Batman's past is a little too convenient to me though in many ways it could make sense. I was a little disappointed that the future Superman angle was used up so quickly, but this has more to do with the fact that I had hoped it would lead into a future storyline than any legitimate criticism of the story. I hope to see something done with the little nugget Loeb dropped about the Metallo alloy having been stolen from Hiro's family.

As I said I think the story ended as it should have. The re-introduction of the green and purple armor is pretty cool and I think the Luthor as President story line went as far as it could have gone. My only problem is that the actual taking down of Luthor should have taken more than six issues. I realize that Loeb may have been constrained to six issues to get the series going or he could have had this in mind from the very beginning. I'm not about to try to jump into the man's head and try to figure out his motivations. The fact remains, though, that a storyline that has gone on for a good three years now deserves more than six issues to rap up.

Don't get me wrong. I am not one for a story arc to drag on forever, but I think that while this particular arc has been very exciting and the best Superman book (even though he shares it with Batman) to come along in years this story went by way too fast. One of the reasons I enjoy Loeb's writing so much is that he usually puts a good deal of explanation into the motivations of his characters. Now this could just be me since I read so many of the book's DC puts out but Luthor, while evil, has shown no signs of being as crazy and out there as Loeb had him act. I would have liked a little more build-up to his eventual break down.

The Venom/Kryptonite mixture was a good story tool and strengthened the book's connection between Superman and Batman, but it appears from the previous issues in this arc that Luthor has been taking it for some time. It could be that Luthor has had the mixture in reserve for some time and that he used the asteroid as an excuse to start using it, but Luthor is not the type of man to start injecting himself with anything before having it thoroughly tested. It would have been nice to see some hints of this before this storyline, though I realize that Loeb has been off the Superman books for some time now, so it is entirely possible that he had plans to do this, but they got sidetracked due to him leaving the book.

The rushed quality of the story took something away from it. The conclusion was action packed and had a good battle between Superman and Luthor (and to a certain degree Luthor and Batman) and Captain Atom showed true heroism, but the two thrown together like they were was distracting. I think that the Superman/Luthor battle could have gone on for a few more pages and still have been as effective.

Twelve issues would have been a better format to tell this story. Loeb works well in twelve issues arcs and I believe he could have played more with the story points he created. A lot of the events that happened off camera could have been shown and the story could have been made richer for it.

(Quick aside; if Pete Ross is now President does that mean that he is at least thirty-five? I mean you have to be at least thirty-five to be elected, but what about being appointed to the position? It seems to me that a man (or woman) running for President would choose a running mate who is old enough for the position. Either way, this actually puts something of a solid age on Superman, even if he is only a year younger. Of course Luthor could have chosen Ross for different reasons and have been arrogant enough to assume that he would never be taken out of office.)

Despite my feelings I really enjoyed this comic. I think Loeb is one of the better writers around today and this story was a lot of fun, I just feel that it could have gone on a little more. A better build up to the end would have been more dramatic.

5Art - 5: Ed and Dexter really came through on this issue. The Composite Superman/Batman ship was a hoot. It really had that anime/manga feel to it. You could argue that it looked silly, but the fact that it supposedly came from the mind of a thirteen year old boy makes it all go down easier.

The return of the green armor was fun as well, though I thought it could have been a little more skin tight. I never have a problem with this armor in the Pre-Crisis days (heck, I have the Super Powers figure sitting on my bookshelf) and think that it's a good time to bring it back.

Overall this was a really solid issue art wise. I look forward to Ed and Dexter's return.

4Cover Art - 4: If the purpose of this cover was to attract readers I think it succeeded. Even if readers had been ignoring this title I think this was the cover to draw their interest, especially if they have any knowledge of the old comics. As stated previously I think the armor could be a little more skin tight, but Ed and Dexter have their vision and I am not in a position to question that.

On the "Grab Me Meter" I give this cover a solid 9.


Mild Mannered Reviews

2004

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

January 2004

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