Superman and Batman are easily two of the greatest comic book characters ever to be created. Alone, they are legendary. Together, they are the World’s Finest. This comic is dedicated to telling various tales of the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight’s friendship, adventures together, and comparisons on their often contrary lives.
Written by Joe Casey
Pencils by Ardian Syaf and Jay Fabok
Inks by Vicente Cifuentes, Norm Rapmund, and Marlo Alquiza
Colors by Ulises Arreola
Letters by Rob Leigh
Cover by Ardian Syaf, Vicente Cifuentes and Ulises Arreola
Previously in Superman/Batman, the duo discover an old destroyed Kryptonian battleship floating in space left over from a war in Krypton’s distant past. Upon searching the ship they discover that the dead aren’t just Kryptonian but another race of shape shifters as well and that an escape pod is missing. The pod crashed to Earth in the mountains with an alien terrorist on board who takes the form of S.T.A.R. Labs’ Secret Backer, Anderson Gaines. After shaking hands with Clark Kent, Gaines realizes his true origin and hires a hit man named NRG-X to kill him. The attempt fails. Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne is at a charity ball when a rather peculiar Mr. Gaines sparks his interest. Bruce shakes hands with Gaines and later does a DNA analysis on his hand to determine that Gaines is indeed the alien terrorist they are looking for.
This issue begins with Batman fighting a villain named the Hooded Hangman while seemingly more concerned with planning a strategy to use against Mr. Gaines than focusing on the fight. Afterwards, Batman secretly sends the location of the crashed Kryptonian space ship to Gaines to put his newly created strategy into effect. Gaines takes the bait. He then makes a call to NRG-X and sets him loose on the Fortress of Solitude for his rematch with the Man of Steel as Gaines sets off for the crashed ship.
NRG-X arrives at the Fortress and is greeted by a Superman robot which he destroys just before Superman arrives to protect his home. The two of them fight it out for a few pages as Batman sets a course in his rocket to intercept Gaines at the crashed ship. Gaines, having arrived on board already, activates one of the ships weapons to use against Superman. Gaines stands on the bridge saying “even my own life is forfeit … in the face of ultimate victory” as the ships computers alert him to Batman’s incoming ship.
After reading this issue, the first impression I’m left with is “Did anything actually happen?” Most of the issue is spent telling us about how Batman has a plan for how to deal with the alien terrorist but doesn’t get into showing us any hints as to what that plan might be. If it weren’t for the fact that the end of the book begins what I would assume is the final fight between Superman and NRG-X, I’d say that it hadn’t actually done anything relevant to progress the story. We did learn that Mr. Gaines plans to use the Kryptonian ship to destroy Superman but we never learn how he plans to do that either. Is it an attack on the Fortress of Solitude? An attack on the whole planet? Or does he want to try to shoot Superman out of the sky as he flies across the world? Everyone has a plan but no one wants to tell us what that is. I think that the writer, Joe Casey, realized that this issue had very little story to tell and that’s why he included a rather irrelevant story about Batman fighting off the Hooded Hangman to fill out page space.
While the story is lacking, the art seems to have gone up a notch. I’ve noticed that a majority of this issue takes place in dark environments. The rainy rooftops of Gotham, the Batcave, outer space, and even the fortress of Solitude is apparently behind on its electric bill. The dark atmosphere seems to work well for this art team. Not to say that their work in the previous issues wasn’t good but (I’m sure many of you are like me when I say this) sometimes you just don’t care for how Superman or Batman is drawn in a particular environment. In this case, sunlight. This dark atmosphere casts a lot of shadows on the characters which smooth out the sometimes awkward facial features and add a more dramatic element to the scene.
I’m both excited and bored with this story. I find the alien terrorist Mr. Gaines to be quite dull while his hired muscle to be rather interesting. I have a feeling that the final battle is going to be somewhat disappointing but hope that this story launches NRG-X into more of a regular rotation of villains. All in all, I have to give this issue a low mark because I feel that the entirety of this comic could have been told in about 5 or 6 pages. I did enjoy the art however, so I’m giving it a star higher than I otherwise would have. I give this issue 2 and a half stars.