Writer: Michael Green
Artist(s): Shane Davis
Publisher: DC Comics
Plot: Superman has a strange favor to ask of Batman.
Commentary: At first I didnít recognize the writerís name on this first chapter of the new Superman/Batman storyline. Strange to say it but Iím glad I didnít. The reason is; the first time I saw this name in comics it was on the recent Batman Confidential origin of the Joker story which is still going on. As you can see the writerís name is Michael Green and I canít stomach that Joker story. To me it is right up there with the recent crapÖ oops-I-mean-clap-trap we got from Jeph Loeb in his recent Wolverine arc at Marvel. That ďLast Wolverine vs. SabretoothĒ story was probably the worst Wolverine story ever. Sorry to say it but Greenís Joker story is one of the worst ever too. I suppose itís being done to try and have the Jokerís comic-book origin jive with the upcoming Dark Knight film version next year. Green as it turns out is no stranger to Hollywood because before coming to DC he had writing stints on NBCís Heroes. Now that I like. And, you know what? His Superman/Batman I like too!
Once I realized this was the same Michael Green from Batman Crap-idential I opened the cover of Superman/Batman #44 with much fear and trepidation. The story opens with a shot of Superman and Batman on the rooftops of Gotham discussing Batmanís origins. As Batman begins to recount his origins I started to go, ďWhat theÖ? I knew it, Green is screwing up this story too!Ē However, I was wrong. What we are experiencing is the filming of a Superman/Batman movie while the real Superman and Batman watch from a rooftop away. Clark and Bruceís commentary on the film and dialogue is hilarious and natural at the same time. They talk like two long time friends and there are some great character moments in their dialogue as well.
All heck breaks loose when Livewire shows up to ransom the star of the film and Superman flies to the rescue. Little does he know the director has some real Kryptonite present and during the battle the stuff explodes and peppers Superman with its shards. Batman has to bring in backup and save the day. This is the driving force behind the strange favor Superman asks of Batman later in the story. Iíd like to stop here a moment and make a comment since the Flash shows up to help out. Itís a comment on DCís line of books as a whole. Iím making this comment because I have to review Justice League of America and Batman and The Outsiders this week too. Iíve already read both and hereís the comment: In these secondary books like Superman/Batman and Batman and The Outsiders the writing, art and characterization of these flagship characters is better than whatís going on in their core titles. I just read the last chapter of ďThe Resurrection of Raís Al GhulĒ over in Detective and that was the last nail in the coffin of that entirely ill conceived story. The writing and art are terrible. Itís been that way all along. I guess DC just wanted to have a ďBatĒ event so badly that quality never entered into the equation. Iím surprised Morrison went along with it but, alas.
Back to the story at hand the Flash under Batmanís instructions races Clark to the Fortress of Solitude to be tended to by none other than Alfred Pennyworth. Green nails Alfredís character to a tee. The aged servant always willing to do whatever heís capable of and always with a bit of sarcasm. Much better interpretation than the ninja-Alfred (yes, thatís right) we got over in Detective this week. This is classic Alfred at his best. Green also melds the mythologies of the comic book Superman and Smallville Clark Kent seamlessly. Itís a sticky situation which Green pulls off here. Hereís where his television and obvious comic fanboy penchants succeed. Supermanís yellow sun revitalization chamber is a very nice scene.
The art team of Shane Davis and Matt Banning give us an eye-feast all around. The visual of Superman wearing an eye-patch due to a shard of kryptonite in the eye is something I donít think weíve ever seen before. A very nice Flash moment with him refueling by munching on a pretzel is a fun visual too. Where the art team really shines though is in a few choice Batman moments. Witness him coming out of the darkness of an alley eyes-a-blazing, chest symbol suspended at eye level and his cape fluttering out of the gloom before him! See as his feral shadow looms over a terrified and bound street thug. There are even a couple of scenes where Davis and Banning channel Christian Bale and Michael Keaton into the character. All classic and beautiful stuff!
The DC Universe has become a very convoluted and schizophrenic place to be these days with the return of the multiverse, continuity problems galore and sketchy, watered down representations of key characters and teams. Amidst all this disappointment we have here a ray of hope for our DC appetites. Misters Green, Davis and Banning I look forward to your playing in DCís sandbox these next few issues. I see Aquaman guest starring next chapter. You have given me faith that you can do something special even with this oft abused character.
Final Word: In the muddled mess that has become the DC Universe as a whole Michael Green and Shane Davis give us a good superhero buddy story with well rendered art and thoughtful characterization.
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