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Superman/Batman #58

Superman/Batman #58

Scheduled to arrive in stores: April 15, 2009

Cover date: Early June 2009

"Nanopolis" - Part Two

Writer: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning (plot), Mike Johnson (dialogue)
Penciller: Whilce Portacio
Inker: Richard Friend

Michael Bailey Reviewed by: Michael Bailey

Click to enlarge

Batman shrinks down to microscopic size and rides into that "universe" via a specially designed ship. Meanwhile Superman fights the progeny of the nanobots that the Prankster set loose and loses the battle. Batman is knocked out momentarily when the ship crashes and upon coming to finds himself being led by a strange band of creatures to their home. Once there Batman is taught their language and informed that his coming was foretold long ago. Hundreds of years ago (microverse time, which passes faster than Batman's reality) the nanobots that the Prankster unleashed came to their civilization and destroyed it. Those not taken as slaves became nomads waiting for the day they could rise up and crush their conquerors. Superman is told a similar story by the nanobots and informed that he is the key to them growing and returning to Superman's plane of existence. Batman leads an attack on the nanobot's "headquarters" only to be faced with a monstrous Superman whose powers are out of control thanks to the nanobots.

4Story - 4: This issue was mainly exposition but overall I liked it.

The plot of this story is very strong, which isn't surprising considering the fact that Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning are behind it. I have been a fan of their work for years now and have seldom been let down by their writing. Mike Johnson's dialogue is fairly strong as well. With so much back story the script could have easily been bogged down with boring text but that wasn't the case here. The history of the "microverse" was interesting and you can tell that Abnett and Lanning put it together because it has their seeming love for theoretical science all over it.

What I was most taken with is the "technology versus the natural world" theme that the story has. In many ways the nanobots are invaders and have disrupted the natural order of things plunging the world into chaos. Here you have this society that was just minding its own business when along come these technological horrors that either cast them out or enslave them. I'm not sure this is the standard "technology gone wild is bad and there must be a balance" type of story but I can definitely see that around the edges. If this is the case I can also see how this could also be a "man inadvertently causing the end of the world" story as well. I'm not a fan of allegories like that but if done right they have been at best thought provoking and at worst entertaining.

Or maybe this is just a story about Superman and Batman having to save an alien world from a technological horror. It works either way.

I was a tad put off that once again everyone defers to Batman's judgment but at the same time it makes sense considering his coming is seen as the fulfillment of a prophecy. I'm just tired of Batman being the smartest guy in the room. This idea was given legs by Grant Morrison during his run on JLA back in the late nineties and numerous writers have run with it since that time. I can see it and I may even agree with it on certain levels but anything that is overused can get a little annoying.

I was also a tad put off by the cliffhanger. I've written before about the fact that the Superman fighting Batman for whatever reason thing has been horrendously overdone in the past few years. Now we have a crazy, monstrous Superman towering over an armored Batman and it doesn't feel new or original or even a fresh take on an old concept. I like the fact that Batman is a little afraid but that is the only aspect of this ending that feels new. Still it was a strong way to end the issue and I am looking forward to the next chapter.

Two positive reviews in a row; who would have thunk it?

4Art - 4: I am still digging on Portacio's art. He did well with the tech as well as the organic, which was essential to making this story work. Crazy Superman reminds me of that story from 1994 where Superman's powers were overloading, which is apt when you consider that the same thing is happening here. Batman's armor was fairly cool as well. Overall I have very few complaints about this story in both terms of writing and art, which is nice because I like to like the comics I read.

3Cover Art - 3: The weakest part of this issue was the cover. While the Batman end of this was okay Superman looks terrible. His face is funky and the symbol is way too small. Then again if my biggest problem with a comic is the cover things are going ok.

Mild Mannered Reviews


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

January 2009

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