Tag Archives: Zatanna

Best of Batman & Superman: “Super/Bat”

***Batman and Superman are friends. It’s an unlikely friendship, and one that can put them at odds. But ultimately, it’s a friendship based on mutual respect and trust. With Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice on the horizon, we’re going to hear a lot about these two fighting. “Best of Batman & Superman” will show us the opposite end of the spectrum. These are the moments that showed us why Superman and Batman are better friends than enemies.***

Superman/Batman #55, 2008TITLE: Superman/Batman #53#56 (“Super/Bat”)
AUTHORS: Michael Green, Mike Johnson
PENCILLERS: Rags Morales
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
ORIGINAL PRICE: $2.99 per issue
RELEASED: October 2008 – March 2009

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Batman with Superman’s powers. It’s a pretty simple concept. It’s not as though we haven’t seen stories where Batman gets super powers. And of course, Superman has lost his powers before. But while “Super/Bat” isn’t perfect, there’s some great character work on display here. Ultimately, that’s been the key to this story’s resiliency over the years. Granted, Rags Morales’ art doesn’t hurt.

After an encounter with Silver Banshee, Superman’s powers have mysteriously been transferred to Batman. But Bruce Wayne is a very different Superman than Clark Kent. Opting to forgo eating and sleeping, Batman devotes his existence to fighting injustice. On the other hand, Clark Kent can now be the average joe he’s always pretended to be. While positives do arise from this predicament, things are going to get ugly…

Superman/Batman #53, Rags Morales, Clark Kent, Bruce WayneGreen and Johnson kick off the story much like Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness started the series at large. We get a splash page split down the middle, with inner monologue from both Superman and Batman, essentially shining a light on their philosophical differences. From there we jump to a museum gathering, as Bruce Wayne is loaning antique armor and weapons to the collection. Rags Morales starts this scene a little too cartoony for my taste, particularly in the above image of Bruce Wayne. Still, Morales is charmingly old school in the way he draws certain characters, particularly Clark Kent. He’s got the classic suit and hat, as if he’s straight out of the ’40s. If you’re a fan of Morales and Brad Meltzer’s Identity Crisis, there’s an aura of familiarity about this story that’s very welcoming. My only major complaint outside of this initial one is that he Morales gives Superman the “S” spit curl. I HATE the spit curl. There’s a difference between art being cartoony, and making Superman actually look like a cartoon character. The spit curl does the latter.

In issue #54, Zatanna is brought in as Clark is teaching Bruce how to use his powers. Later, Alfred and Robin (Tim Drake) find Bruce handing upside down next to some of the bats in the Batcave, meditating to focus his newly sharpened senses.

Superman/Batman #55, Rags Morales, Suoerman shotFrom there we go to a scene where Clark and Lois Lane ponder his next move. Lois eventually opens Clark’s shirt to find that even without powers, he’s still wearing his Superman uniform. Maybe that’s hokey, but I love it. There’s a pathetic quality about it that’s very fitting of a powerless Superman. But to her credit, Lois sticks by him. Even when Clark gets shot trying to stop a mugging in an alley, much like the one that resulted in the death of Bruce Wayne’s parents…

We also get a sequence where Batman brings down Bane by punching a hole through his stomach. A teary-eyed Dark Knight then floats over Earth teary-eyed over the fact that he can now save everyone. Batman is now a god, at least in his own mind.

And an increasingly violent god, at that. After the Justice League pulls Clark up to their satellite base and heal him with some magic courtesy of Zatanna, they wonder if Bruce’s new powers have effected his mind. Batman, who just happens to be waiting in the wing, then lays into Clark with a rant that hits home for both the characters and the readers.

“You don’t get it. For me it’s not hard at all. You’re always talking about not being human. About how your gifts are a curse. … Your powers aren’t a curse. They’re what I’ve always wanted. To never have to stop. To be everywhere, anytime. To save everyone. I never realized it until now. The responsibility you have. And all you want to be is normal?”

Superman/Batman #55, 2008, Rags Morales, rantThis idea that Superman should always be busy has been floated before. In a world full of so many hazards and dangers, why should an all-powerful superhero ever take a break? Personally, I don’t subscribe to that theory. I think this story refutes it as well as any ever has. One can’t always be so single-minded, even when saving lives. It leads to bad things down the road. Case in point, the very next sequence where Batman has become so detached from reason and humanity that he injures Catwoman, and severely debilitates Nightwing.

Knowing Batman has to be stopped, Alfred give Clark a modified Batsuit with the “S” symbol on it, While the Justice League take on Batman, Superman and Zatanna find Silver Banshee and learn the powers were switched by way of a magic brooch. It grants a person their heart’s desire, but does so at the expense of someone else. When exposed to the brooch, Batman was unknowingly given what he’s always wanted: The power to save everyone.

A short time later, Zatanna creates an illusion of Bruce’s parents that lures him in allows she and Superman to switch the powers back. In the final scene, Batman admits that the powers ultimately cost him his mind, and he credits Superman with thinking tactically the way he normally would. In the end, Clark admits part of him has always wanted a normal life, and Bruce admits he secretly misses the power…

Superman/Batman #56, Rags Morales, Batman, Clark KentI like to think Bruce’s mind wasn’t compromised when he had Clark’s powers. At least not to the point where he had no control over his decisions. It makes a certain amount of sense for Bruce to react the way he did, given all the awful things that have happened to him. His mission is for no one to go through what he did. So why wouldn’t he try to save everyone? That doesn’t make him a bad guy. It just makes him a guy who lost control.

“Super/Bat” is also a great illustration of why Superman is the role Clark Kent was born to play. We see here that while Batman is largely isolated, Superman is a likable guy who cares about his friends, and his friends reciprocate. Even Commissioner Gordon seems rather fond of him. He cares about people. He’s grounded, which ironically makes him deserving of the power of flight.

“Super/Bat” isn’t nearly as well known, or renowned, as The Search For Kryptonite or a lot of the others stuff to come out of that Superman/Batman title. But for my money, it’s one of the better stories starring this duo to come out in the last 10 years. From a character perspective, it’s certainly better than anything we’ve seen since the New 52 reboot.

For more “Best of Batman & Superman,” check out Gotham Knights #27, Superman #165, Man of Steel #3, and Action Comics #654

Image 1 from comic vine.com. Image 2 from batmanytb.com. Images 3 and 4 from comicnewbies.com. 

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A Justice League of America: Team History Review – Will the Real JLA Please Stand Up?

Justice League of America: Team HistoryTITLE: Justice League of America: Team History
AUTHOR: James Robinson
PENCILLER: Mark Bagley
COLLECTS: Justice League of America #38-43
FORMAT: Hardcover
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $19.99
RELEASE DATE: September 8, 2010

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Some of the creative decisions surrounding Justice League of America in the past year or so have really left me scratching my head. Certain characters have been in the League for a little while, then left, only to be replaced by other characters, who then leave, and are replaced again. The cast/team line up has been in a constant state of flux.

James Robinson’s would-be epic, Justice League: Cry For Justice, is partially to blame for that. First they were going to make that book into it’s own series, then they decided to just make it a miniseries, and that seems to have screwed things up. Robinson was put on the main Justice League book, and proceeded to give us an almost entirely different team.

Still, he and Mark Bagley put on a decent show with Team History.

Justice League #38 (2010)The book begins in the aftermath of Cry For Justice, with Vixen, Plastic Man, Dr. Light and Red Tornado contemplating whether the Justice League should even exist in its current incarnation. Soon, the events of Blackest Night kick in, and Zatanna must confront her zombified father. Meanwhile, Vixen and Gypsy face their old teammates from the Detroit Justice League, and Dr. Light deals with her villainous counterpart of the same name.

Then we jump post-Blackest Night, and everyone but Dr. Light and a bodyless Red Tornado remain on the team. So Robinson throws Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Batman (Dick Grayson), Donna Troy, Cyborg, Starfire, Mon-El, The Guardian, and The Atom together. Plus, we get Congorilla and Starman, who were featured in Cry For Justice. They take on, among other threats, a trio of villains who gain access to the Justice League Watchtower.

For my money, the first part of this book overshadows the second. Robinson does a really nice job with the confrontation between the good Dr. Light, and the sadistic rapist Dr. Light. He taps into some of that Identity Crisis magic really well. The fight with the Detroit League is fun too. I was pleasantly surprised.

Justice League of America: Team History, group shotThe book gets convoluted during its second half. The assemblage of the team is done well enough, but the bad guys are introduced via a series of flashbacks that left me scratching my head. I knew who/what the threat was, I just wasn’t sure how they got to be a threat or why.

What frustrated me the most about this book, is that the new team seems to start imploding before their first adventure is even over. The events of The Fall of Green Arrow/The Rise of Arsenal start to take over, and there’s a big question mark left hanging over the entire team. Plus, based on events that have taken place since Justice League #43 was published, it’s looking like at least a couple of these heroes won’t be sticking around for the long haul.

Team History is a decent book on its own, but it left me frustrated at the lack of consistency in the Justice League’s roster. Heck, even the characters themselves seem to be getting frustrated. In retrospect, I shouldn’t have even complained about the Teen Titans, and saved my frustration for the League.

Seriously…will the real Justice League please stand up?

RATING: 6/10

Image 1 from craveonline.com. Image 2 from dreamwidth.org.

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