The Durlan terrorist has set his end game in motion. Superman is tied up fighting NRG-X in the fortress of solitude while Batman attempts to prevent the alien’s attack in space. The last surviving members of two species must now fight to the death for the sake of their planets.

Superman/Batman #71

Written by Joe Casey and Joshua Williamson
Pencils by Jason Fabok
Inks by Prentis Rollins, Rebecca Buchman, Derek Fridolfs, and Walden Wong
Colors by Pete Pantazis
Letters by Rob Leigh
Cover by Ardian Syaf, Vincente Cifuentes, and Ulises Arreola
Edited by Eddie Berganza and Rex Ogle
Published by DC Comics

A LONG TIME AGO, IN A GALAXY FAR AWAY

Previously in Superman/Batman: Thousands of years ago Kryptonians and Durlans waged war against each other. Thrown through time, a single Durlan soldier remains and has come to Earth to kill Superman. Taking on the form of billionaire Anderson Gaines, Batman discovers his true identity and lures him to a crashed Kryptonian battleship on the moon. Meanwhile, at the Fortress of Solitude, Superman deals with a hired assassin named NRG-X who was hired by Gaines to eliminate him.

TWO GO IN. ONE COMES OUT.

Batman walks the halls of the kryptonian ghost ship to meet Anderson Gaines on the bridge for battle. Before we see the first punch thrown, Superman deals with the cybernetic mercenary known as NRG-X in the fortress of solitude by ripping off his head and melting it into sludge. Batman is left alone on the dark side of the moon to fight the squid-like Gaines as the ship sets sail on a kamikaze mission for Metropolis. While temporarily in control of the fight, Batman tries to change course only to find that he can neither steer the ship nor beat Gaines. He does the only thing left to do, call Superman.

Superman bursts through a wall of the Earth bound ship and tries to convince Gaines that they don’t need to carry on a war that was started centuries ago. Gaines plans on finishing what he started and makes peace with death as he attempts to kill Superman. Batman regains slight use of the controls just as Superman freezes Gaines in ice. Superman flies to the exterior of the ship and helps steer it away from Metropolis while narrowly missing the Daily Planet building and landing in the river. Superman informs Gaines that if he tries to shape-shift while frozen he’ll die and offers to take him back to the fortress for medical treatment and a truce. Gaines refuses to surrender and decides to shatter into millions of tiny pieces instead. Both Superman and Batman are left debating whether or not we are able to evolve or if we are products of a set course of action when we see a small fragment of Gaines glowing as it descends into the depths of the river.

CHANGE OF SCENERY

The first thing that confused me was that the kryptonian battleship seems to have gone through an artist redesign since the last issue. That threw me off from page one mostly because I remembered the bridge of the ship to have a rather unique look to it. Perhaps this has something to do with all the different inkers that worked on this final installment. While it’s a bit annoying, I think in the long run it was a better move because the new bridge has a lot more space to hold a final battle. I just wished that they would have thought of this a before they printed the first 3 parts and a prelude issue.

DAVID AND GOLIATH

The fights were fun but definitely one sided. Superman using his x-ray vision to discover that NRG-X was really a cyborg seems like it should have been one of the first things Supes would do. Even with this knowledge, ripping off the man’s head and melting it in his hands still seems a bit brutal for big blue. The fight between Batman and Gaines was choreographed well enough to make it seem that Batman could stand his ground, but after torching Gaines it feels like Batman’s only going to get a stalemate at best. The final battle between Superman and Gaines brings us back to Superman’s brutality issues. After splattering the alien’s face with one punch and punching a hole in his head with another, I figured I should have been desensitized to seeing Gaines explode into tiny little pieces. I wasn’t and it still came off as an overly aggressive tactic for the Boy Scout who seemed to get through two battles without a scratch on him.

A LITTLE DIRECTION PLEASE

There were a few panels that seemed to pull me out of the comic. The first was after Batman torched Gaines and Gaines started to shape-shift back into a human form. On the very next page we see Gaines attacking Batman in his alien form. I don’t understand the point of starting a transformation that has no purpose. On the same page, Batman is looking at a monitor and calling for help from Superman. Next page we see Superman looking at a very similar monitor and I had to take a second look to make sure that somehow Superman didn’t get on board the ship already. The last panel is when Superman is referring to all the people who lost their lives in the war and shows Superman in the middle of a light source while red light is emanating from him with dead bodies all around. It makes you think that Superman used his heat vision on all of them when I think, in reality, he’s standing in front of some sort of red spotlight. Some of the panels are very misleading. I will say, in its favor, I’m glad that every time there was kryptonian text there was also a translation to go with it. I really don’t like it when they make you decipher what’s being said with a legend in the back of the book.

IMPRESSIONS OF AN ARC

“The Big Noise” was supposed to be an aftermath to the “Our Worlds at War” story. Unfortunately, I didn’t read that story so I’ll be judging this as a stand alone tale. I have to give the arc 2 out of 5 stars. The story didn’t need to take 4 issues (3 issues and a prelude) to tell. This should have just been a one shot at best because it doesn’t establish any meaning for the tales of either person and doesn’t really feel like it was necessary. The fights with NRG-X were decent but that was about the only thing worth mentioning.

IMPRESSIONS OF AN ISSUE

As a piece of the whole, this wasn’t as bad as some of the previous issues. I think the only reason for that was because of the story being resolved and Superman’s extreme brutality. I think they wrote Superman the way fans would like to see him and not the way we expect to see him. I’ll give this issue a 2 and a half stars out of 5 just for those reasons.

Rating: ★★½☆☆

The Author

Brian

Brian

Ah, comics! Is there anything they can't do? I've been reading comics since the second grade when my friend lent me a copy of Spider-man where a strange black alien ooze broke Eddie Brock out of the jail cell he shared with Cletus Cassidy. I mostly read Spiderman and the X-men in my youth until a TV show named Batman the Animated Series came along. It took me until the issue of Hush subtitled "Punch Line" to buy a DC comic though. Since then, I've been reading and collecting nonstop.

Favorite comics: Superman/Batman, Batman, Detective Comics, anything by UDON, and Buffy: the Vampire Slayer
Favorite writers: Geoff Johns, Dwayne McDuffy, and Gail Simone
Favorite artists: Ed Benes, Ian Churchill, Alvin Lee, Jim Lee, and Dustin Nyugen
Favorite "can read anytime" book: JUSTICE

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