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Superman/Batman Secret Files 2003

Posted: Sunday, October 5, 2003
By: Cody Dolan



Writers: Geoff and Jeremy Johns, Mark Waid, & Jeph Loeb
Artists: Ivan Reis, Renato Guedes, Tim Sale, Ed McGuinness & Scott McDaniel (p), Mark Campos, Oclair Albert, & Norm Rapmund (i)

Publisher: DC Comics

The good news is that this Secret Files special is far and away better than the terrible second issue of the series itís supporting. The bad news is that it didnít have to be that good to accomplish that. The problem with the stories in these kinds of comics is that they feel inconsequential (because they usually are), and that holds true here. The tales told here are light fare that honestly donít merit much attention from people that arenít fans of these characters going in. The issue isnít horrible, but I couldnít call it great, either, and that means itís the worst kind of comic: an expensive waste of time that distracts people from the good books out there.

The first story by the Johns boys and Ivan Reis, ties directly into Superman/Batman but not in a way that has been revealed yet in that series. We knew Captain Atom was working for Luthor but Major Forceís appearance is just confusing. Why is the President hiring murderers to do his dirty work? Wouldnít someone like Batman find out that the Presidentís lackey once stuffed Kyle Raynerís girlfriend into a refrigerator and expose that information? Captain Atom comes off like an idiot in these pages, and thatís a characterization of him I didnít expect. He couldnít have expected Superman to join up with Luthor, could he? I thought superheroes communicated with one another. Johns and Johns capture Batman perfectly here, but the rest of the story just doesnít hold any weight.

Waidís ďLuthor in SmallvilleĒ story is laughably bad and another transparent attempt to capitalize on the TV showís success. The story revolves around Lex enrolling in Smallville High School and refusing to fit in. That sounds all well and good, but Waid is only given a page or two do accomplish this, so I think the story fails miserably. Luckily, Loeb and Saleís tale of the first ever meeting between Bruce and Clark is better, if only marginally so. I liked seeing the two characters as boys, but are we supposed to buy that they will remember each other when they donít actually lay eyes on one another? Sure, itís a cute story, but once again, itís only two pages long.

All of the artist handle themselves well here, but Ivan Reis is the one that stands out. His art in the first story is dynamic with the right mix of clarity and expression. The characters look like the icons they are, and Iím hopeful that Reis can keep up the good work on the Supertitle heíll be drawing soon. Guedes is a name thatís new to me and I found his work had a rushed feeling to it. The characters didnít look healthy, and thatís a problem when dealing with the man of steel.

The pin ups look good even though Iím not a fan of McDanielís work on Superman. Supermanís pages are appropriately light and airy, but Batmanís are overly draped in shadows. I have to ask, whose idea was it to use black text on a dark blue background? I had to squint and hold the page up to my nose like an old man to read the text on Batmanís pages, and thatís just annoying.

In all I feel like I misspent my $5 on a book thatís as forgettable as it is expensive. You donít need this book to follow the plot of the ongoing series, so if you havenít bought it yet donít bother.



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