Superman/Batman Annual #3 Review
Superman/Batman Annual #3 review by Hugo Bravo
Written by Len Wein
Art by Chris Batista
Superman/Batman is somewhat of a guilty comic book pleasure for me. Sometimes the storylines are so over-the-top that I can't take it seriously, but other times it works very well as an escapist series for the DC Universe, similar to Frank Miller's All-Star Batman and Robin. Supes/Bats has for the most part kept away from touching any current continuity ever since Jeph Loeb left the book, and instead has done updates for characters and events associated with the duo. We've seen retellings of characters such as Supernova, Kara Zor-El, the Metal Men, and even a new story (hated by many, loved by me) in the 50th issue of the series where we learned that Jor-El and Thomas Wayne actually met years before either of their future superhero sons was born, and how that chance encounter shaped the destiny of DC's greatest heroes.
If that wasn't enough to drive home the message that Superman and Batman are forever linked, now we have a story retelling the origin of the Composite Superman, an old World's Finest villain dating back to the sixties. Batman and Superman learn that Professor Ivo, creator of the superpower-absorbing robot Amazo, once tried to collect DNA left over from scenes where JLA members had been seen in action. This DNA was meant to create an actual superhero with the powers of the JLA, not just a robot. The experiment failed, and Ivo buried the carcass. Now it's risen from its burial, and it desperately wants to be Superman and Batman, and Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne too.
I'm constantly impressed at this book's ability to attract top-notch talent to contribute to it. Len Wein , creator of Swamp Thing, might seem an odd choice for what is basically an updated Silver Age story, but he adds just enough of an edge to the concept to make it enjoyable. A great cover by horror comic artist Bernie Wrightson is a good touch, and Chris Batista's pencils make me remember when he was the main artist for the Robin monthly, and it's cool to see him once again draw the Boy Wonder Tim Drake in his old green costume. Even with a different artist every arc, Superman/Batman is one of the best looking books in DC today.
The conclusion is simple but satisfying, about what you would expect from a guy who writes about a man/plant hybrid. Where Lein goes wrong in this issue is the dialogue, specifically for Batman. It's been said that comic book artists love to draw Batman more than any character, because everyone is free to create him in their own distinct way. That may be true, but this does not always work in the characterization of the character, at least being used in a modern setting. Wein's Batman is quite possibly the talkiest, most sarcastic version I've read in quite a while. It can be distracting at times. Batman simply does not tell a villain that he's sending him to a place where he won't even handle Play-Doh. He's not Peter Parker. And Batman does not say "Gee." Ever.
Dialogue issues aside, I enjoyed this book far more than I expected to. I'm curious to see what Wein could've done using the original pre-Crisis origin of the Composite Superman, involving the Legion of Superheroes and not Professor Ivo and Amazo (please retire that villain already!) And seeing Superman's disturbed expression when Batman suggests that the impostor has the DNA of a child they fathered together is too hilarious to pass up. Superman /Batman, even with the occasional gimmicky adventure, will continue to be a monthly read for me. I want to read what this book is gonna do next.