I’m not a regular “Superman/Batman” reader, but when I heard that Cullen Bunn and ChrisCross were working on a storyline together, I instantly decided it was worth checking out. And with one issue to go, I’m glad that I did, but I can’t help but still feel a tiny bit disappointed.
After reading Bunn’s excellent scripts on comics like “The Sixth Gun” and “The Damned,” him tackling a supernatural storyline in “Superman/Batman” felt like a no-brainer. So far, though, “Sorcerer Kings” has proven to merely be good, not great like I’d imagined. I like the idea of a timeline where some of the evil mages of the DC Universe have taken over by replacing the sun with a magically-fueled one, and a rebellion that includes characters like Scream Queen (from “Scare Tactics”), Stanley and His Monster, and Traci 13. Even the little touches like the Hall of Doom being used as the rebellion’s base are fun, and Bunn does a good job of switching between the present day and the altered future, letting us see how the first informs the second.
But after reading Bunn’s other comics, it’s a little surprising to see that there’s a real lack of urgency in “Superman/Batman.” It’s more than simply being the nature of the story that keeps it from feeling exciting; rather, it seems to move along at slightly too sedate a pace. I don’t mind the comic stopping to explain what happened up until this point, but it feels like it does so at the sake of the overall pace. I want this to be full of big crazy ideas and surprising moments, but it’s a little too slow and safe to make as much of an impression as I’d expected.
ChrisCross and Marc Deering turn out some nice looking art here; their figures are clean and attractive, and as silly as it sounds I appreciate that he took the time to create older versions of characters that are simultaneously recognizable and also look just different enough to not be the present day incarnations. Considering we’ve got present and future Batman and Klarion here, we get to see those comparisons first hand. And even something as simple as Superman getting powered by a big glowing sword as he flies through the air works well here; it could have looked somewhat ludicrous, certainly, but there’s a lot of power in the illustration.
All in all, this “Superman/Batman” storyline is by no means bad. It’s amusing and fun in places, and Bunn’s storyline fits in well with the title as a whole. But it is a shame that it’s just good rather than great, because with creators as talented as Bunn, ChrisCross, and Deering, I’d expected so much more. They’ve got one more issue left, though, so here’s to a potentially huge finale that does it all.