Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Review: Batman/Superman #12

Batman/Superman #12 came out last week, a sort of coda to the First Contact storyline that ran through this book and Worlds' Finest a couple of months ago. Writer Greg Pak continues to delve deeper into the crossover with Earth 2 that happened in this book's first arc. The differences between the younger, brasher Earth 1 heroes and the veteran, seasoned Earth 2 versions is great grist for the storytelling mill so I am glad to see Pak going back and exploring these things.

This time we see the Earth 1 heroes brought back to the pre-Darkseid invasion of Earth 2 and given a sort of Monkey's Paw wish. Will Superman and Batman do something rash, on a personal level, and regret the outcome? Or will they act more like their older versions?

The cover might be by Jae Lee but the internal art is by Ken Lashley and Tom Raney. The art is fine. But Lee's book is a big reason why I like this book. With the incredible delays that subsequent issues are suffering, I wonder if Lee can keep up.

Meeting Huntress and Power Girl has jogged the memories of Superman and Batman enough that they remember their jaunt to Earth 2 and more importantly remember Kaiyo, the chaos-bringer. You may recall that at the end of that adventure, Kaiyo was 'impressed' with the darker and riskier behavior by the Earth 1 versions of Superman and Batman. If anyone would have a chance to ultimately defeat Darkseid, it would have to be heroes willing to cross a line.

That recollection brings Kaiyo to Earth 1 where she gives our heroes the opportunity to change history. She brings the Earth 2 at the time of the Darkseid invasion and says they each can intercede once. Where and when is their choice.

It is the age-old question, would you go back in time and change something/change someone never knowing if things could be worse as a result.

I have really loved Greg Pak on Action Comics as I think he has a fantastic grasp of Superman. His Clark really acts the way I want the character to act. And we see some of that here.

Look at the longing in his face in the second panel as he sees his parents alive. He aches as they have small talk. If there is one part of the Superman mythos that has been underplayed, underrepresented in the New 52 Superman, it has been the impact the Kents had on him.

Pak finally is showing us more and more of it. The attitude, the outlook ... it is classic. So I appreciated this scene.

Parademons swarm the farm and just as the E1 Superman is about to use his 'wish' to save them, the E2 Superman shows up and does it instead. That's right, the E2 Superman had deep love for his family and rushed to save them.

And then we see some of that Kent wisdom ... being given by Ma!

'Superman' is too big to be worrying about two old folks. Superman needs to save the world, not just his parents. It is a simple but hard lesson. The good of the many ...

But it also speaks about who Clark learned to be. Your own wants sometimes need to be suppressed so you can help others. The right decisions are sometimes the tough decisions. It isn't easy to do the right things sometimes.

This is modern comics. There needs to be a little pathos, a little darkness, a little fallibility in our heroes.

While Superman was saving his parents, Parademons invaded Metropolis. In that fight, Lois (while hoping Superman would show up) was killed.

I don't know if I want this layer of guilt to be slathered on the E2 Superman but there is no doubt it is powerful. It also shows how a simple decision can have drastic and far-reaching ramifications.

Will these scenes resonate with our E1 Superman. Will he wonder again if he was meant to be with Lois?

Meanwhile, and much more interestingly, Batman actually uses his 'wish' to save Alfred. Hmmm ... Batman making an emotional choice? That is fascinating!

It comes down to the final assault as we saw in Earth 2#1. The E1 Superman shadows the Earth 2 Batman knowing his viral download is what stops the Apokiliptian invasion. And Superman holds back from saving Diana ... from saving his doppelganger.

I would have liked a little more about his watching Diana die given the current Superman/Wonder Woman romance in the DCU. What is it like to see the woman you love die? But it is glossed over.

I suppose for someone like me ... who doesn't quite understand the romance to begin with ... it is a double edged sword. I am trying to understand their relationship and some emotion at seeing this Diana die might have helped cement it a little more. But since I don't agree with the romance, I am also glad to see it glossed over.

And then we see who Superman saves. Helena was about to die in a fiery crash when our Superman does what he knows Bruce would want him to do. He saves her, sending her through the boom tube to Earth 1.

I think this choice speaks volumes about who Superman is. This is great.

Despite Kaiyo's promises, despite their intercessions, the outcome in this world is exactly the same. And Batman thinks that is the best outcome. As a reader of many time travel stories, I agree.

This isn't what Kaiyo was hoping for.

So we get a 'clean slate' next month ... whatever that means.

What does it mean, in general, that Kaiyo ... a chaos demon ... thinks our heroes are poised to cross some sort of line? It sort of sums up my issues with the New 52.

Anyways, I like that Pak has them act like heroes, even being sentimental a bit. I thought this was a decent issue. I certainly liked the Superman scenes with the Kents and saving Helena. That is who I want my Superman to be. But it didn't seem to have the same weight as past issues, especially the Jae Lee ones.

Overall grade: B


Anonymous said...

Honestly, I was already annoyed that Diana invaded a story about the one place where Clark and Lois were husband and wife. Her inclusion already felt clunky and forced to me. Like an editor told Pak, "oh yeah and you have to remind people of the romance." It just didn't fit. The Lois/Superman romance deserved the time on earth 2.

To that end, I really hated the way she died as if retconned the original explanation that Robinson gave when he initially decided to fridge her. He promised fans that she died a hero and alluded that it was on assignment as a journalist. So Pak's choice here felt super underwhelming to me bc he basically took that agency away from her that we were promised years ago. Instead, it's basically just a fridging which is exactly what Robinson swore to fans it wouldn't be. --- Shades

Jay said...

The Lois/Superman romance would have gotten time if the story was told from Earth 2 Superman's POV. It was not, it was told from Prime Earth Superman's POV (partially). That Superman is with Diana, so a little nod to it was by no means inappropriate nor shoehorned.

Martin Gray said...

I read it, Anj, that at the end Kaiyo was disappointed because our regular heroes had lost the willingness to cross the line - doesn't she think something to that effect?

Anj said...

I think she does Mart. She wanted them to do something brash - save one of their doppelgangers for example, dramatically changing E2's history.

I think she says they fall for a sentimental trap or something like that.

Anonymous said...

Well that's your opinion. Some of us view it differently. Since I don't buy the relationship for a second on Earth Prime, I certainly don't buy it here. I laughed out loud.--Shades

Jay said...

Its really a matter of opinion. Just a fact of what the relationships currently are and a writer acknowledging it appropriately. If one doesn't like Superman with Diana that's certainly understanable, but he is all the same so that Superman being touched by a doppleganger's death makes all the sense in the world, and its a huge stretch to assume editorial interference on something so basic.

There will be every opportunity, when Worlds' Finest changes format to early adventures of E2 Superman and Batman, to write the romance there, as it actually exists with that character.

Jay said...

"Its really not a matter of opinion", is what I meant to say.