This issue marks the debut of the new creative team of writer Michael Green (of Heroes fame) and artist Shane Davis (with inker Matt Banning). After one issue, so far, so good.
I think Jeph Loeb actually did throw in a good comic here or there during his run on Superman/Batman (I recall the Carlos Pacheco arc having a good issue or two mixed in there – maybe the bit where Uncle Sam gets a Green Lantern ring and he becomes super-powerful because he is powering the ring with the willpower of the American people – that was a great idea by Loeb), and Alan Burnett’s run on the book had some decent issues mixed in there, but basically, this is probably the best issue of Superman/Batman yet.
Green opens up the issue with a parody of superhero films, as Batman and Superman are eavesdropping on a film version of their lives, and, of course, the film is making a mockery out of their characters (actually, one joke in particular fell WAY flat for me – the idea that the movie Batman got his inspiration from a baseball bat – it might be funny if you were saying that no one has ever seen Batman before – the ol’ urban legend thing- in which case his costume could be made to look like a baseball bat-themed costume, but it is not – it is the regular Batman outfit, complete with bat-themed regalia, so it just does not make any sense that even a dumb screenwriter would give him a baseball bat inspired origin). It is definitely a cute scene, and what I was most impressed by was how Green added humor to the issue without having Batman and Superman suddenly making wisecracks. That would be out of character – but thrusting them INTO a comical situation is much different.
A villain shows up, using a very amusing scheme (kidnapping someone and ransoming him to, well, himself), and ends up hurting Superman when some Kryptonite on set explodes, sending jagged pieces of Kryptonite into Superman’s face.
This leads to a great Justice League cameo, and gets to the main idea of this storyline – Batman and Superman decide that they are going to collect all the world’s kryptonite and get rid of it.
Nice hook for an arc, no?
Green’s previous comic work, his reworking of Joker’s origin in Batman Confidential, was marked by a very dualistic tone – at times, he did some ridiculous work with future characters (his whole new origin for Joker was really quite disappointing – and the bit where Harley Quinn and Joker meet before he becomes Joker was a painful dialogue exchange), but the basic framework of the arc was quite strong – that the main villain was the Joker was unfortunate, but had it NOT been the Joker, it would have made for an interesting story – sadly, it was billed AS a Joker story, making it more of a Two-Face thing – one half good/on half ugly.
He most avoids this problem in this issue – I know some folks may take some issue with the Batman and Superman dialogue (while they’re not acting like Booster Gold and Blue Beetle, they do make some jokes), I think it was fairly naturalistic, and just two guys reacting to absurd situations – if Superman showed up with an eye-patch, I don’t think it’s unreasonable for Batman to make a pirate joke, no?
Anyhow, Shane Davis and Matt Banning are clearly going for a Jim Lee style of art, and sometimes, it is dynamic and effective (particularly the action scenes), but other times, it comes off a bit haphazard and sketchy (then again, I guess that would describe Lee’s work sometimes, too, no?). In the end, though, it’s basically a solid job. It may not be adding a ton to the comic, but nor is it taking away from the comic – it lets Green’s story stand on its own merits, basically, which is good, as Green’s story is a good one.
Hopefully Green can keep it up. But if not, at least for this one issue…
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