Shiny Shelf

Superman / Batman #1

By Eddie Robson on 07 August 2003

It looks like DC has got sick of being accused of having dropped the ball these last couple of years. Sure, the Marvel renaissance has been exciting but a lot of this is because of the novelty value involved in seeing these characters done well. With Grant Morrison moving exclusively to DC, it’s apparent how reliant Marvel is on Brian Michael Bendis: the likes of Straczynski and Milligan can only fit in a couple of titles per month and even journeymen writers like Mark Waid are jumping ship to DC.

Meanwhile, DC has brought back Giffen and DeMattis’ ‘Justice League’, it’s putting Azzarello and Rizzo on ‘Batman’ and Rucka on ‘Wonder Woman’ (admittedly I haven’t read any Rucka since his early ‘Detective Comics’ stuff and apparently he’s lost his way since then, but who knows – maybe the character and writer will fit each other). And here’s as bold a statement as the company can make: the resurrection of ‘Superman/Batman’, once known as ‘World’s Finest’.

This is such a smart idea for a comic book that one wonders why it ever went away. It’s hard to imagine an ongoing title that would be more fun to work on: you’ve got the two most iconic characters in comics who have evolved to counterpoint each other perfectly. It doesn’t demand the balancing act of heroes that ‘JLA’ requires and, existing in an area between each character’s backdrop and supporting cast, it feels slightly freer.

Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuiness have already proved how adept they are at handling these characters and are a natural choice to relaunch the title. I was a tad concerned when the book opened with a parallel retelling of the characters’ origins: I’m sick of superheroes’ origins being harked back to every five minutes and wish they’d just get on with the story. Thankfully, Loeb then gets on with the story, and he also makes good use of having underlined the differences and similarities between the characters so early on.

What initially appears to be a run-of-the-mill battle between the heroes and an old enemy (in this case, Metallo) widens out towards the end and promises a big story for the first few issues of this title. Even if it was just run-of-the-mill it wouldn’t matter too much, since the interaction between Clark and Bruce sustains the book on its own, but even so it looks like Loeb and McGuinness have plenty more in store.

As do DC, in fact. Marvel should watch their backs.

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By Eddie Robson

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