Review: Superman/Batman #72

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While Superman is in space protecting an alien planet from a deadly meteorite shower, Lois is kidnapped by a fanatical cult. This looks like a job for … Batman?! Batman heads to Metropolis to rescue Lois but will he get to her in time?

Superman/Batman #72
Written by Paul Levitz
Art by Jerry Ordway
Letters by Steve Wands
Colors by Pete Pantazis
Cover by Fabrizio Fiorentino
Edited by Eddie Berganza
Published by DC Comics

Previously in Superman/Batman: This issue is the first in a new story arc. The previous tale featured an ancient Kryptonian enemy that was thrown through time during a great battle between their worlds. Using his shape-shifting powers, he disguised himself as Anderson Gaines and hired a hit man named NRG-X to seek out and destroy Superman in an attempt to finally destroy the Kryptonian race. With the help of Batman, Mr. Gaines was discovered before he could exact his revenge. Superman defeated NRG-X and Mr. Gaines and offered a truce between the last Durlan and the last Kryptonian. Gaines refused and took his own life.

I’M NOT USUALLY A PRAYING MAN BUT … SAVE ME SUPERMAN!

Deep in outer space, a meteorite shower threatens to destroy a planet and all that live on it. But never fear … Superman is here! As the meteorites approach, Superman barrels through them and smashes them to tiny nuggets that will burn up in the planets atmosphere. While marveling at the beauty of space and wishing that Lois could be with him to see it, Superman nearly lets a meteorite slip past him. As he moves to destroy it, he carelessly forgets to check it for kryptonite and gets knocked into the planet. Superman climbs out of the rubble of what used to be a building as the alien race clamor around him speaking in a foreign language. Superman attempts to repair the building as best he can before returning to Earth. Just as he flies off, the native people draw the Superman crest in the dirt then take a piece of debris from the building and throw it at the symbol.

Back on Earth, Lois attends the funeral of a recently departed Daily Planet worker. After giving her condolences, Lois finds that Perry sent a car to pick her up and get her back to the office so she can meet her deadline. Not long after the car pulls away, one of her two escorts tries to attack her with chloroform. Lois knocks him out with relative ease but the driver unleashed a knockout gas in the car and Lois has just enough strength to activate the emergency signal in her wedding ring before passing out. While investing a string of attacks on priests in Gotham City, Batman receives the signal and hurries to Lois’ aid. Meanwhile, at Lexcorp, Luthor uses a spy-satellite to witness the newly found hatred that the alien planet has for Superman and smiles. Just as Luthor plans to learn more of this alien culture and offer them a present, one of his aids notify him that Batman has been sighted in the city. Luthor orders that all activities cease and security be increased in all Lexcorp buildings.

Batman arrives in Metropolis by way of the Justice League transporter and quickly traces Lois’ distress signal to a near by office building. He trips an alarm on the roof in an attempt to flush out any potential suspects. He breaks into the building and jumps down a stairwell to the basement just as Lois’ kidnappers get to their car. Batman grapples after them and puts his fist through the front window causing the car to crash into a nearby street light. Batman notices Lois isn’t with them and starts to question the driver on where she is. At the city park, Lois is awoken with a bucket of cold water to the face and realizes that she is tied to a stake and about to be burned alive as if she were a witch. The mob explains to her that she needs to die for being chosen by Superman and having turned him away only to marry the human Clark Kent. The crowd chants the name of Superman as they light the fire.

STICK WITH WHAT WORKS

The first thing you’ll notice when you pick up this issue is probably going to be the art. It’s not exactly what we’ve been used to in title. It’s a lot of neon colors, shiny surfaces and somewhat fuzzy shadows. To put it plainly, I don’t like it. The first few pages of Superman in outer space seem to have an almost blurry effect from the strange lighting. The same goes for the panels with Luthor in it. The other problem I have is with how unattractive everyone seems to be, especially Lois who seems to have persistent bags under her eyes. I don’t think it’s the fault of the inker drawing them this way but rather the colorist’s interpretation. It honestly reminds me of art work from a lesser known indie comic I used to read. The colorist must be trying out a new technique because his past work on this title doesn’t look anything like this and is much better in my opinion. I’d suggest going back to what works.

THERE IS HOPE FOR THIS TITLE YET

Aside from that, I have to admit that I was skeptical when reading this issue. Lately the series has been very hit or miss (lately missing more than hitting). While not impressed at all with the artwork, the story seems to be a whole other story. Paul Levitz shows us how it’s done and looks to finally be able to tell a tale of the Worlds Finest without having to resort to the same patterns that other writers have been falling victim to. This story seems to be one that Superman can’t punch his way out of while Batman sits in the Batcave “with a plan”. While it still has Superman as the focus of the story, it’s nice to see Batman take a more active role. I was impressed with how Paul Levitz got Batman to realize that Superman didn’t hear the distress call and even more impressed at how he explained getting Batman to Metropolis so quickly. I think he does the characters justice in showing us Superman’s inner monologue of the beauty of space, Batman’s ability to clear flush the kidnappers out of the building so quickly and, most importantly, that Lois isn’t some damsel in distress. After all the times she’s been in peril, I’m glad to see that Lois learned to take care of herself. If it weren’t for the gas, I have no doubt that Lois would have kicked the drivers butt too.

NOT REALLY A COMPLAINT, MORE OF A COMMENT

There are just two things that I wanted to mention that aren’t really complaints but I still feel they should be noted. Lately, I’ve noticed more than a few comics that have people speaking foreign languages that have no translations for what’s being said. The new Birds of Prey did this and this story does this. I don’t mind it if they’re going to do a handful of bubbles and then fill you in on what was being said or if they give you a language key in the back of the book like “Superman/Batman: Supergirl” did, but this has three pages totaling seven panels of dialogue that isn’t explained. Why write it if you’re not supposed to read it? The other problem I have is in the end of the book when Lois is awoken with the cold water to the face. I don’t know about you but I find that throwing cold water at a woman only makes her mad and does nothing to make her blouse open up. Somehow on DC’s Earth this isn’t the case. The longer Lois stays wet the more her outfit exposes her until finally you can see why Superman likes to use his X-ray vision so much. I know sex sells but realism wins respect.

WE GIVE THEE THANKS AND PRAISE

I was hoping this issue would be more exciting than it was after coming off of a rather lack luster arc previously. I think this would have scored much better if the art didn’t seem like someone was experimenting and just stuck to what worked. I give this story a 3 out of 5 just for the sake that Paul Levitz seems to be starting off a very well thought out tale that should hopefully remind me of why this is one of my favorite comics.

Rating: ★★★☆☆