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Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Tales From the Trade! - Superman/Batman: Finest Worlds - "Super/Bat"

Next up is probably the last Superman/Batman story I’ll look at for now. In 2003, DC started a new series called Superman/Batman and it featured the two heroes teaming up for adventures. Jeph Loeb and was the primary writer on the book until about its mid-20s. After he left the series, it kind of became a place for different writers to come and do their thing for a few issues. The book pretty much had rotating artists from its inception. Today’s trade, Finest Worlds, has Superman/Batman #50-56, but I’m only looking at their main arc, “Super/Bat.”

Today’s story arc comes from Superman/Batman #53-56. I might talk about the other issues at a later date. The writers are Mike Johnson and Michael Green. I know Michael Green was best known for writing on the TV show, Heroes, at the time. The two writers also worked on the rebooted Supergirl for a while when the New 52 started. The penciller for this arc is Rags Morales, the artist for Identity Crisis. He even had a stint on Action Comics during Grant Morrison’s stay there. The inker is John Dell.

Superman/Batman #53-56
Writers: Michael Green and Mike Johnson
Pencils: Rags Morales
Inks: John Dell
Colors: Nei Ruffino
Letters: Rob Leigh
Editors: Eddie Berganza and Adam Schlagman

“Super/Bat”
Bruce Wayne visits Metropolis to loan an ancient weapon collection at a museum. Clark Kent is also there trying to interview folk. Bruce then notices something strange about one attractive woman there: the tattoo on the back of her neck. It's revealed that Silver Banshee has possessed someone. She reveals herself and tries to steal an artifact (a broach) at the museum. Clark suits up as Superman and tries to apprehend her but a spell of hers knocks him down hard. Bruce also suits up as Batman but he too gets taken down hard by Silver Banshee’s use of the broach.

After she leaves, Superman gets Batman to the Batcave so Alfred can patch him up. Superman begins to notice that his powers are failing on him one by one. Meanwhile, Batman’s completely healed from the injuries he got in the battle. Batman and Robin (Tim Drake) head out on patrol while Superman heads back to Metropolis. As he gets to his apartment, Clark’s flying fails and he crashes into it. In Gotham, Batman is beginning to realize he’s gained Superman’s powers. He then flies to Metropolis to inform Clark on the news.

I bet Clark is now realizing how creepy his red eyes of anger (copyright Michael Bailey) look.

Superman takes Batman to the Fortress of Solitude so Batman can get used to the powers. Zatanna shows up and tells the two about the broach that Silver Banshee stole. It turns out it had magic properties and it caused their powers to switch. Batman leaves to use these powers Clark heads to Metropolis and spends some time with Lois. He has a little trouble adjusting to be powerless (again… it’s happened before) but Lois helps him out with that. Meanwhile, Batman is being weirder than ever and uses his powers to take care of crime in Gotham. When he hears that the drug, Venom, is being supplied on the streets, he heads to Santa Prisca to take care of the supplier, Bane.

Hmm… we have red eyes and a creepy smirk. Bruce has unofficially gone to the Douche-side of the Force.

A fight breaks out on the island between Batman and Bane and Batman almost kills Bane. He begins to relish in the power and starts to take care of crime all around the world. Meanwhile, Clark and Lois are out in the town when a mugging happens. Clark tries to stop it but gets shot. He’s taken to the hospital and then to the JLA Watchtower to heal. Batman shows up and the JLA is worried about his actions. He tells the League to stay off his back and leaves. He heads back to Gotham where he finds Catwoman stealing some stuff from a drug dealer. He attacks her brutally and almost kills her when Nightwing shows up. Those two fight and Batman seriously injures Nightwing. Bats still has enough sense to drop Dick off at Wayne Manor though.
Uh... huh. 

Later, Clark and Zatanna come to the Batcave. Dick’s injuries were life-threatening but he’ll be okay. Clark knows that Bruce isn’t himself, so he decides to help Zatanna with the search of Silver Banshee. Alfred even gives Clark a modified suit that he made just in case Clark needed it. They eventually find Silver Banshee and her host in Oblivion Bar, a bar for the supernatural. They get the broach and find out that it gives one their greatest desire with a terrible cost. For Superman, it’s a normal life but without the safety of his powers. For Batman, it’s the powers of Superman but with no control of his mind.

Oh snap... this is a lesson for people who mess with Dick Grayson.

The League (along with Supergirl) find Batman and try to calm him down. He tries to take them down but he starts to hear his parents and heads toward Crime Alley. It’s revealed to be a trick set up by Clark and Zatanna. Zatanna uses the broach to set things right. In the end, Batman and Superman talk about the whole experience while doing some clean up on the moon.

……………………………………………………………………..

I thought this was a nice story. It’s not one of the best out there, but it gets the job done with what it’s trying to tell. It takes the old trope of Superman’s powers getting transferred to someone else and goes with it. It’s something that has been done before but it works here. We see how this effects both superheroes. It’s obvious that Batman got the worst of it. It was nuts seeing Batman act so out of character here. It’s like his douche-side got kicked up to 100 or something. I also liked the “battle” between Batman and Superman.  It was also cool seeing the JLA and Supergirl involved here.

There isn’t a lot I don’t like about the story. I did feel its place in continuity works to its detriment. At this time, Clark had lost his powers for a year (the maxi-series 52), so his glumness about his power loss seemed a little weird. I do get why he’d be down-beat about it but his powerless period doesn’t even come up. It also ends with little to no consequences. While he was under a magical influence, Batman did some mean stuff here, so you’d think his actions would leave a mark. It’s like an“issue-of-the-week” episode from Star Trek or something. I guess this is how the Superman/Batman series worked at this time.

The artwork was good for the most part. I’m not the biggest fan of Morales’ work, but I like it here. The action scenes were pretty cool. The smaller scenes and emotional scenes were good too. There were some points where the artwork looked wonky though. Some of the faces looked a little weird at times. Other than that and some other wonkiness, I liked the art.
Hey, Clark! Christian Bale called and he wants that cool suit you’re wearing!

Overall, it was good. I did like the story and the art was good even though it’s not the best story out there. The other stories in the trade range from good to a bit weird. Just check out the “Lil’ Leaguers” story and you’ll see what I mean. Well, I’m outta here. I might get one more Superman/Batman story before the movie, but this may be it for now. Peace, God Bless, and watch out for what you search for on Google. Apparently, there’s a lot of slash fan-fiction of these two out there… People are weird.

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