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Mild Mannered Reviews - Superman/Batman

Superman/Batman #63

Superman/Batman #63

Scheduled to arrive in stores: August 19, 2009

Cover date: October 2009

"Night and Day"

Writer: Michael Green and Mike Johnson
Penciller: Rafael Albuquerque
Inker: Rafael Albuquerque

Michael Bailey Reviewed by: Michael Bailey

Click to enlarge

Batman interrupts the taking of a young boy by the minions of Grodd and manages to save the boy and his family albeit temporarily. As he heads back to the sewers Bruce reflects on how Gorilla Grodd was able to defeat and kill most of the Justice League and thanks to some handy mind control that allows him to keep tabs on all of humanity and a cloud of artificial Kryptonite that masks the Earth keeps Superman off planet Grodd is Earth's ruler. Only Batman keeps a lonely vigil and manages to avoid Grodd's near omnipotent mental powers through intense meditation techniques. When Alfred suddenly dies of a heart attack Bruce's defences drop for a moment and after an intense chase Grodd finally captures the Dark Knight.

After a "private meeting" Grodd brings Batman out before a packed arena and intends to kill Bruce once and for all. Before Grodd can get on with the killing Superman suddenly appears overhead. Batman had created a cure for the synthetic Kryptonite and had been sending out a message letting Superman know about what he had discovered. Superman and Batman finally defeat Grodd and the world is freed of his control.

Meanwhile in the real world Alfred chides Batman about letting another meal go to waste. Batman apologizes and tells Alfred about how effective the update he made on the artificial intelligence of his computer systems was. Alfred muses on how morbid the simulations are that his employer has the computer run but Batman brushes them off as stories, one of many; every possible eventuality, past, present and future. With that Batman asks Alfred to reheat the food and shut down the servers since he is done for the night.

2Story - 2: In and of itself this was a pretty decent story. It was dramatic, had some good beats to it and definitely had a creepy edge. The concept of Gorilla Grodd killing the Justice League save for Superman and Batman might be a bit out there but I can almost see it as the crux of a major DC crossover event. The strength of the issue was in the atmosphere of the piece. You could feel the desperation on Batman's part, which was especially strong in the opening scene. Batman saved the family but it was a hollow victory considering that eventually Grodd was going to find them. The crush of that victory combined with the fact that Batman helped anyway served as a great opening to the issue.

Unfortunately the story had some weak elements as well. Green and Johnson went over the top in certain scenes and in others events occurred with no real emotional impact, like Alfred's death. It just happened. There was no real lead up to it and while there was a sadness to the death I feel that most of that comes from a previous knowledge of the characters and not anything that the writers gave me in the story. Grodd was very broad and there was little depth to the character. I am not much for writers playing up certain elements of a villain to make sure we know how EVIL they really are and the, "I am going to eat you," thing got old fast. I also had issues with how Luthor and the Joker were trotted out and gutted as characters simply to show how amazingly awesome Grodd was as a villain. It's very clichéd by this point and really detracted from the stronger elements of the issue.

I also took issue with the fact that a bit of business from one of the bigger storylines from Johnson and Green's run was wrapped up in Batman's exposition. So Lana was controlled by Gorilla Grodd then? What a lousy way to reveal that. I didn't like that story or that supposed shock ending anyway and to have it revealed to be Grodd all along and in a flashback of all things did nothing to change my opinion on the matter.

Superman was barely in this issue but I will admit that his appearance, however convenient, was kind of cool. Then again I like scenes like this. The only thing that detracted from it was the fact that it happened just as Batman was about to be killed. It was dramatic, but it was a little too neat and tidy.

The two biggest problems I had with the issue start with the fact that, in the end, nothing really happened. I realize this is a comic book and therefore a work of fiction but I absolutely hate when a writer produces a story and at the end goes, "Well, that didn't really happen. End of story." It just bugs me. I am the type of reader that likes to get lost in a story and to buy into whatever the writer is selling. To be told at the end that all of the emotional ups and down I went through weren't necessary because it didn't matter anyway bugs the crud out of me. It feels like I've been cheated almost and is one of my biggest pet peeves as a reader.

This lead into my second problem which was Batman's comment at the end of the issue about how the simulations he goes through should be looked at as stories that can take place in a variety of setting and times. Now I could be reading into this a bit much but it seems to me that this is Green and Johnson's way of telling us that the stories they tell aren't in continuity and should be read as fun little jaunts into the lives of Superman and Batman. I have no real proof of this. It's just my gut reaction and the reason why I don't like it is as a reader is the fact that I like a certain sense of continuity. Again, I want the stories to matter because while reading comics is a hobby to me it is also my passion. I may not take it too seriously but I do take it seriously enough to come back month after month for the past twenty-two years or so.

When you add up all of the aspects of the story I didn't like they far outweigh the one or two things I did like about the issue. It was an interesting idea but aside from a few bright spots the execution was mediocre.

One thought before I head into the art review. That line about the simulations brings up an interesting question; have all of Green and Johnson's stories simply been battle simulations? Is this why the stories are in continuity but not in continuity?

Just a thought.

3Art - 3: The art was kind of off this month. I kind of dug what Albuquerque did last time out but in this issue the art was downright ugly in places and not in the good way. Alfred, at least in the simulation, looked really strange in that first panel he was in. The look improved on the next page but that one shot really stood out. What made it all worthwhile, though, was the look on Grodd's face when Superman finally arrives.

Someone just stole Grodd's lunch money. At least that's what I got out of the expression on his face.

4Cover Art - 4: You know I normally don't like this sort of cover. The "tear away bits and pieces to reveal the page underneath" thing is cute but seems more like a gimmick than anything else. What set this apart was the fact that Grodd bit the chunk of cover off.

Now that's just cool, at least to me.

Mild Mannered Reviews


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

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