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Superman/Batman: Generations III #4

Posted: Friday, April 11, 2003
By: Ray Tate



"Return of the Warrior"

Writer/Artist: John Byrne, Alex Sinclair(c)
Publisher: DC

Superman/Batman: Generations coveys the feeling of an epic. We know that there is a war on two fronts being waged. In the future, Batman and his allies fight Darkseid's Parademons, and these same Parademons, unbeknownst to the heroes, travel through time and space to fight what they believe to be weaker versions of the heroes. The war however is only the backdrop. The large-scale battles are left to the imagination of the reader and conducted between panels. Byrne hints at the action and lets a type of persistence of vision do the rest.

Generations while being epic in scope and having "special effects" worthy of a big-budget Hollywood movie focuses on the characters. We know for instance that Wonder Woman has died in this war.

Although I loathe DC's impressive track record for maiming and slaying female characters, Generations has got nothing to do with the pre-Crisis multiverse, the inferior universe that has for years has tied to replace it nor even the superb Adventureverse. This series is an elseworlds series.

Mr. Byrne has already killed the inferior universe's Wonder Woman. He even had her autopsied, but a literal deus ex machina revived her. Why certain factions of fandom became incensed when they learned Mr. Byrne intended to kill Wonder Woman in a series that does not preclude more adventures of Wonder Woman is unfathomable; lots of people for some reason simply hate Mr. Byrne.

I do not and never have hated John Byrne. My wide-eyed belief in the good produced by everything he touches has vanished, and I can point you to a number of horrible mistakes he has made: mucking about with the soon to be dead Donna Troy comes to mind. Bryne however is still an overall great artist and a good storyteller.

You have to admire an author that anticipates his detractors. Mr. Byrne no doubt knew what the rumor of Wonder Woman's death would do, and its spread allows for quite a wonderful surprise. Generations does not profit from the typical question of who will die. It instead asks whether or not a dead character will live again and studies the domino effect of that hero's death.

One of those consequences plays with various continuities and the hodge-podge that pretends to be continuity. Another result gives the excuse for the double-act of the Super Powerpuff Twins Lara and Lois. The minor ramification is that one hero enters the war with the Parademons. It's almost a trivial matter when compared to the actual motivation of why this hero returns.

The trail of dominos leads me to my single caveat regarding this issue of Generations. Batman is written shallowly. His dialogue does not sound characteristic, and his attitude toward Wonder Woman's death is callous. The attitude may be exactly what Byrne wishes: to corrupt the now immortal Batman, but I cannot imagine any earth producing a hero who has been so shaped by death being cavalier about the loss of any life.



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