The Boy Wonder and Girl of Steel team up for a night to remember at Arkham Asylum.
How is it that the girl who is faster than a speeding bullet is late for a lunch date with Tim Drake? That remains a mystery as issue 62 of Superman/Batman opens with Kara rushing to Gotham City and switching to her secret identity before meeting a sleeping Tim (who is apparently dreaming of penguins with missiles) at a Diner for lunch. The pair discusses what itâ€™s like working for their â€œbossesâ€ and reminisce about the very first time they worked together.
In the flashback, Superman brings his younger cousin to the Batcave where Batman tells the sidekicks that he and the Man of Steel have business to attend to on the JLA Watchtower. Bruce asks that Tim show Kara the ropes to prepare her for fighting crime and solving cases in Gotham. Not long after they leave does an alarm go off from the Gotham City Police Department summoning Batman and Robin for help. Robin, wanting to handle the situation alone and not wanting to deal with an amateur, tells Supergirl to stay at the cave while he proceeds to Arkham Asylum. Refusing to be left behind, Supergirl insists on joining him and the two meet up with Commission Gordon and the police force outside the gates of the institution.
After making introductions, Kara ignores Robinâ€™s warning and flies into the Asylum alone. She is unprepared for the horrific scene lying just beyond the other side of the door. A trail of bloody footprints lead to the one and only Joker who is holding a blood stained Saw in one hand and a severed leg in the other. The remains of his victim lie motionless on a hospital bed, a white sheet covering the body. Supergirl races into the room where she proceeds to beat the psychotic clown and becomes even more enraged when he doesnâ€™t stop laughing. Robin steps in and stops her before she beats him to death, something she confesses he â€œdeservesâ€. He reminds her that killing their enemies is a line that they as heroes do not cross and she lets him go and delivers him to the Commissioner.
The partners proceed to the next room to find an Arkham style tea party given by the Mad Hatter himself. The guests include Scarecrow, Two Face, Clayface and several Arkham employees who are bound and gagged. Scarecrow foolishly gases Supergirl with a fear toxin before she lights him on fire (via heat vision) and defeats Clayface while Robin disables Harvey. Using the persuasion of his fist, Robin gains the information he needs on the whereabouts of the other hostages from the Mad Hatter.
Their next stop is the Arboretum which is now flooded and has been turned into a swamp. Itâ€™s pretty easy to guess who is waiting for our heroes here; the seductive Poison Ivy andÂ Â savage Killer Croc. Supergirl gives Croc a one way ticket out of the Arboretum but Robin isnâ€™t so lucky and finds himself tied to the ground by Ivyâ€™s roots. Supergirl saves the day by using her ice breath to freeze Ivy and releases Robin. After dropping the latest round of captured villains to Gordon and the police, they investigate one final room.
If you thought the scene with the Joker was disturbing, you may want to shut your eyes for this one.. Serial killer Victor Zsasz is attempting to slice the throat of a young woman among a pile of dead bodies. Kara, stunned by the graphic scene, finds herself unable to move and Zsasz challenges her to stop him before he kills his latest victim. Robin crashes through the ceiling and beats the serial killer so hard that Zsaszâ€™s blood splatters all over his face and gloves. He finds himself in the exact position Supergirl was in earlier; loosing control and wanting to kill his enemy. Kara gently places a hand on Robin and asks him to stop. In the end, he finally calms down but confesses he wished they could have done more to save the people.
Jumping back to present day, the pair expresses their gratitude and appreciation on having each other to work with that fateful night. Tim receives word that a robbery is taking place and Kara races out of the Diner, prompting him not to be late.
I really enjoyed this book; having an issue of the Superman/Batman title focus solely on the sidekicks is something I didnâ€™t expect (but now seems obvious). It was interesting to see Robin and Supergirl work as partners and having their first assignment take place at Arkham Asylum was a great idea. Itâ€™s a very different setting for a character like Supergirl and her reaction to the horrors she faced much mirrored my own, which made her very relatable.
It was nice to see Tim and Kara as â€œnormalâ€ people meeting for a bite to eat and talking about everyday hero things. Although very dark, the book also had a few funny moments to lighten the mood (mostly in the beginning of the story).. My favorite parts of the book were when Supergirl and Robin were overcome with emotion and wanted to kill their enemies. I feel that was very realistic and as a comic book fan, often ask myself how can these heroes NOT have the urge to kill once in a while. How can they fight evil every single day of their lives and not want to kill? Wouldnâ€™t the world be a better place, wouldnâ€™t their jobs be easier if they rid us of all the murderers, kidnappers, terrorist and rapists? If I were in their position, could I be as noble or would I start taking lives?
Artist Rafael Albuquerque is getting a lot of attention for this issue and it is well deserved. He really captures the tone of each panel weither its Tim and Kara sharing a pleasant conversation or a psychotic killer in a bloody room full of bodies. Oddly enough I do not like his work for the cover; the way Robin and Supergirl are position and their facial expression smacks of Scooby-Doo.
I give this issue four and a half stars; it was a really entertaining read.