Buy Now!

Mild Mannered Reviews - Specials

Superman/Batman #56

Superman/Batman #56

Scheduled to arrive in stores: March 11, 2009

Cover date: May 2009

"SuperBat" - Conclusion

Writer: Michael Green and Mike Johnson
Penciller: Rags Morales
Inker: John Dell, Drew Geraci and Derek Fridolfs

Michael Bailey Reviewed by: Michael Bailey

Click to enlarge

After recharging his newfound abilities Batman is attacked by Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Hal Jordan, John Stewart, Red Tornado, Hawkgirl and Firestorm while traveling back to Earth. Elsewhen Clark gets involved in a fight at the Oblivion Bar before Zatanna breaks it up. They find the woman that possesses the broach that gave Clark's abilities to Batman. They take it and free Silver Banshee, who didn't realize that the broach would trap her in the woman's body.

Meanwhile on the Moon the heroes try to contain Batman and do a poor job of it. Supergirl manages to distract him long enough to allow Batman to hear the voices of his dead parents. He flies back to Crime Alley in Gotham City and finds his parents. They tell him they are proud of his accomplishments and that he has done so well that they have brought them back. They disappear and Clark steps forward. Batman insists that Clark's powers were wasted on him. Clark produces the broach and Batman attacks him and crushes it. With Batman distracted Zatanna uses the real broach to give Clark back his abilities. Later Superman and Batman discuss what had happened with Clark silently wishing for a normal life and Batman secretly missing the power.

2Story - 2: There are two problems with this story and I think neither are the fault of Michael Green and Mike Johnson. The first problem is that the storytelling methods of today are still taking some getting used to in terms of how I read them. I was raised on a particular method on how to tell a super-hero story, which had a faster pace to it. The five to six issue arc with slower pacing is, even after eight years of dealing with them, still kind of strange and unknown. Maybe I will never get used to it. Maybe I will never totally accept it. There are times when it works out just fine and dandy, dandy and fine and others where I think the writer is just being lazy. While Michael Green and Mike Johnson's tenure on the title is not the former I don't think it is the latter either. They have a good handle on characters even if I don't like their particular take on them.

In other words when Batman puts his fist through Bane and I call it out of character and then later it is revealed that Batman was under the influence of some kind of magic mumbo jumbo then that is, to a certain extent, my fault for calling something before it is fully explained. On the other hand that sort of scene in this type of storytelling is designed to shock the reader. So when a writer crafts a scene where a character acts totally out of character knowing that it will be a month or three before everything is revealed then there has to be an expectation that a certain percentage of the reading audience is going to jump the gun. Should we just sit back and let the story play out? Probably, but at the same time when something is designed to be shocking then don't be surprised if some people are not shocked in the way you want them to be.

The second problem with "Super/Bat" begins with the fact that this series is falling into a rut of having Superman and Batman constantly gauging what the other is thinking and exploring how the characters are the same and how they are different. This is something that Jeph Loeb started back at the beginning of the series and the various writers that have carried on have picked up that torch and ran with it. The thing is that Loeb rarely crafted the plot around those differences. It was usually that Superman and Batman had to face a problem and in facing that problem we got to see an exploration of what makes these characters tick. As enjoyable as I found the stories that Loeb wrote I have gotten sick of the internal monologue and that goes to the heart of why I didn't care for this arc.

To me it is one thing in having the previously mentioned matching internal dialogue happen in story arc after story arc after story arc. It is quite another to have that and have the entire plot revolve around those differences. Earlier in SUPERMAN/BATMAN's run it might not have been a problem but I am so sick of it by this point. It is played out. If the goal of this series is to sell trades later down the line knowing full well that the average reader will pick and choose the stories they want to read then I guess it is fine because those readers won't be there month after month after month. To some it's, "Oh look, a Superman and Batman story. Haven't read one of those before/in years. I think I'll check it out. Wow, this really explores who Batman and Superman are and how they get along." To me it is, "Sweet merciful Rao! Do something different already!"

That's all big picture though. There are specific problems with this conclusion that I just can't get out of my head. For one thing why was there a fight at the Oblivion Bar? It didn't serve the story at all. It just showed Clark getting tossed around a bit, nothing more. Also Clark and Zatanna got the broach way too easily. It could be argued that the broach was the McGuffin of the story but still. There was no drama there and it made the whole sequence kind of useless. The costume Clark wears was useless as well. They make a big deal of it last issue and he wears it once but when it comes time with his big face off with Bruce it is no where to be seen. Yes it was more dramatic to have Clark confront Bruce in his street clothes because then you could have the shirt rip at the end, but that begs the question of why have him in the suit at all?

Unless of course they're going to make a DC Direct action figure of it down the line. You never can tell about these things.

I will admit to being impressed that it didn't end with Clark fighting Bruce toe to toe. I was expecting it and that just didn't happen, so cheers to the writers for not going for the obvious.

Other than that this was another disappointing conclusion to another disappointing storyline. I wish the writers would stop mining the Silver Age for their concepts and trying to put a modern spin on them. Maybe next issue, right? Let's take a look at the next issue box.

A shrunken Superman with Batman examining him via a magnifying glass.


Oh well. See you next time.

4Art - 4: This was the best artwork from the entire arc. The three inkers made for something of an uneven look at times but overall I enjoyed the art in this issue more than the previous chapters. I especially liked the shirt rip at the end of this issue. Unlike the story the art ended on a high note for me.

3Cover Art - 3: I thought we had gotten beyond the have a scene on the cover that never happens inside the issue thing. It's not a bad cover. The background detail is great, especially the shoes hanging on the clothes line behind Clark. The thing is it promises something, Clark in his spiffy Bat costume fighting Batman, that never happens, so while the composition and all that jazz is great the cover gets a three for being misleading.

Mild Mannered Reviews


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

January 2009

February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009

Back to the Mild Mannered Reviews contents page.

Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2009.