Review: Batman/Superman #1 By Greg Pak and Jae Lee

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Batman/Superman #1

Written by Greg Pak

Art by Jae Lee, Ben Oliver, June Chung, and Daniel Brown

 

The short of it:

Years ago a young Clark Kent made his first trip to Gotham City and suffers an immediate culture shock. Drugs and sex offered to him on the street, children teaming up to bully a child, and a grown man sitting there watching it happen. This is what his father warned him about, that Gotham is very much this sort of a city. Meanwhile, on the bench, the man thinks back to his own father promising to always keep him safe, a promise long unfulfilled, and one that has taught the man the value of standing up for himself…something he waits for the bullied child to do for himself. Alas, Clark Kent runs in and chases the bullies off, questioning why the man didn’t help, and being told that the kid doesn’t want it. In agreement, the kid flicks Clark off. So Clark decides to let the man know that he’s aware that his name is Bruce Wayne.

Bruce tries to play it off, quietly pissed that this guy just walked right up to him and knew who he was, while Clark introduces himself as a reporter and notes that Wayne smells like a night in Vegas. Bruce figures he wants a payday, some cash to leave him alone, but Clark is all about integrity and honesty and is just there to ask him about some deaths related to Wayne Enterprises. Kent wants him to understand people are in danger, to do something about it, to save people. Wayne just wants Clark to leave him alone so he can go put on his mask and beat someone senseless.

Catwoman is in Metropolis and going after the lone employee of Wayne Enterprises that Bruce couldn’t convince to leave town. She has him ready for the kill when his daughter comes out, so that’s when the Bat comes in to smash heads and dislocate shoulders…only Catwoman isn’t behaving normally. Like she’s drugged or possessed, but before Batman has time to figure it out his tough guy employee activates security he wasn’t supposed to take from WE. Batman snaps his wrist to get the controller, feeling justified until he sees the crying daughter and immediately feeling guilt. So he activates giant robots to get Catwoman.

And that’s when Superman arrives. Making quick work of the giant robots as Batman notes how ridiculously outmatched he is. Superman, on the other hand, sees Batman and thinks ‘murderer’. As he debates what to do to Batman, Batman simply hopes he can’t fly and launches him out of the building with an explosive. A yellow mist leaves Catwoman and flies between Superman and Batman, creating a giant boom. Superman appears over Smallville, with a differently dressed Batman waiting for him. One who knows who he is, and who has kryptonite on him. Not enough to kill him, but enough to weaken him so that he won’t try and kill Batman. Except for that he does try to kill Batman anyway, only to be stopped by….

Jonathan Kent?

 

What I liked:

  • I’m literally only a few pages into this book at the time of writing this particular bullet point, but holy crap this book looks fantastic. I haven’t even gotten to the Ben Oliver pages, but Jae Lee REALLY outdid himself here.

  • The double page spread for the credits page was great. The similarities and differences between the two are as apparent as they ever have been. Two men who worshipped their fathers, who learned everything from these larger than life figures, and who lost everything on the road to becoming who they are today.

  • Batman hoping that Superman can’t fly as he blows him out of a building was great. As readers we’ve grown so accustomed to seeing him always be three or four steps ahead of everyone, it’s nice to get a reminder that there was a time and a place where his best idea was ‘wing it’. Especially against Superman.

  • Boom tubes? Apokolips looking bad guys? Clearly Earth 2 Batman? Earth 2 Superman on next issues cover? This already being confirmed but me loving it anyway? A whole lot of “YES!”

  • Ben Oliver also did a really great job with the Earth 2 pages, he doesn’t have the same dark and dreary tone that Jae delivers so wonderfully, but the lighter tone fits this seemingly happier world.

  • And how about reporter Clark Kent being able to spot incognito Bruce Wayne? The use of super powers was never clarified, so I’m counting it as good reporter skills.

 

What I didn’t like:

  • With all of his vision powers, Superman shows up and thinks Batman is a murderer. The guy has claw marks over his eye, and Catwoman was JUST there, so he jumps to Batman did it?

  • For as much as I liked the art, there are some weird faces to be found in the issue.

  • Also, half of the the time Jae draws Superman in the t-shirt, it looks painted on. He’s not the first artist I’ve seen do that, but it is my biggest issue with that look. Half of the time it’s not drawn to look like he’s wearing a t-shirt, rather, some spandex top.

 

Final thoughts:

A really strong start for a series promoting DC’s two biggest icons, and a great DC Comics debut for writer Greg Pak. He shows a great understanding of the big two and is able to cut to their cores with little issue as he contrasts them against each other in this issue. Sure, we’ve seen it a million times before, but given that this is a first meeting, he hits all the right beats in establishing how similar these two vastly different heroes truly are.

I like the idea of Batman and Superman having their first true adventure in a world where their alternate selves are already close. It should give them the chance to see the potential of what they can be and provide a true catalyst for the world’s finest team to become just that.

For as cool of a visual as the giant robots were, I’m supposed to believe that this guy has a remote that summons them and Bruce had no idea? I mean, he’s not living in some Wayne owned building, this isn’t Gotham and it’s established that there weren’t a lot of people to relocate, so how did nobody notice him stashing giant robots in his building? It’s baffling.

Bruce Wayne understanding children is a scary, scary thing. Especially given how out of touch Clark was with the same group.

I really enjoyed Batman’s narration as he came face to face with Superman for the first time. Pak did a great job of making it clear just how out classed he knew he was, and you could almost tell he was ready to crap himself, but he never let on. That’s well written Batman, especially in the rookie days.

Given how downplayed Clark’s job has been over the past few years, and the fact that I’ve never had an issue with it, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed his good reporter skills initiating his first meeting with Bruce Wayne.

So I have to wonder how long before Justice League #1 this is, because Superman had his costume by the end of the first real arc on Action Comics, so this has to fit in before that, but how long was he in Metropolis in jeans and a t-shirt before getting the costume? And was he already BFF’s with Batman before Grant’s run began?

Is this a dawn of a new age of Superman goodness? Unchained was good, this was REALLY good, and Pak is confirmed as the new ongoing writer of Action Comics. Oh, and Smallville is still AWESOME. This is turning out to be a great time to be a Superman fan!

Overall: 8.5/10

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