New 52 – Batman/Superman #8 review

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Jae Lee returns as artist and the Worlds’ Finest teams of two different universes meet for the first time in “First Contact” Part I, which is released the same day as Part II. Having read both, I’ll give you my thoughts on Batman/Superman #8, an idea as to what you should expect from Worlds’ Finest #20 (and whether or not I think this whole crossover is worth your time!

As you can see by the cover, this is the story of Superman and Power Girl and how much they hate. This. Car. Just kidding, in all seriousness the story does hinge upon Power Girl a great deal. Her powers are out of control and she’s somehow become a ticking time bomb ready to explode. In desperate need of help, her partner Huntress decides to seek out the Batman. It’s a special meeting too, because Huntress and Power Girl were originally the Robin and Super Girl of the Earth 2 universe. Huntress’ own dad was the Batman of that world so in a way it’s like she’s reuniting with her long lost father.

I must say that it did feel like being dropped into the deep end of the pool in these opening pages. It’s evident that Worlds’ Finest is definitely the driving force behind this crossover event and not Batman/Superman and I think that going back and reading Worlds’ Finest #19 might be necessary to truly appreciate and understand what’s going on. After reading both parts I & II I have to say that I just don’t care about the threat that our heroes are facing. The overall story often struggles to find any sense of urgency or emotional weight. Part I (this comic right here) was fairly entertaining but I found myself muttering “That’s it?” when I finished Part II. It could be that my disinterest comes from not reading the prelude from earlier Worlds’ Finest comics, but on its own Parts I & II of “First Contact” are disappointment for me. Batman/Superman #8 is a far better comic than what follows, but I would be very wary about investing time and money into the entire crossover.

The great strength of Batman/Superman #8 is its potential for adventure. While we don’t spend enough time on the emotional drama, it is exciting to see everyone scramble to explain themselves in time to stop a developing disaster. Why is Huntress confined to a prison in the Batcave? Why is Power Girl radiating fire and can Superman stop her before she destroys everything? Who is the villain responsible for all of this? It’s a page-turner, but it does waver too often between a serious and lighthearted tone. It can be amusing to see how disappointed Power Girl and Huntress are in our world’s Batman & Superman and despite all of the superheroics on display, my favorite moments came when things were at their quietest. There’s a nice heart-to-heart between Superman and Power Girl in the middle of the ocean and Bat-father and daughter go on a brief espionage mission that made for a refreshing change of pace.

On the negative end, I did find the portrayal of Huntress and Power Girl to be too lackadaisical. There’s no sense of wonder to the meeting of a girl coming face to face with the spitting image of her father who died. Paul Levitz did a better job handling the more emotional aspects of this story in Worlds’ Finest #20 (it was only a panel or two so don’t get your hopes up), but even there we don’t get any mention of Damian, which seems like something that would come up in Bruce’s inner monologue at the very least. Something else odd about Batman and Huntress’ first meeting was that Bruce estimated her to be about 17 years old, which doesn’t sound right at all. Shouldn’t she and Power Girl be older than that? Specifically like 5 years older– didn’t they arrive on our Earth around the time that the Justice League formed? It is just Bruce’s estimation, but his estimation should be more spot-on than that… he’s Batman.

The meeting of two worlds should be more earth-shattering than this, no? Everyone’s reaction is so nonplussed that it’s a non-event. To make matters seem even less momentous, the story builds and builds to the reveal of a villain who doesn’t in any way seem worthy of a union of 4 superheroes. Many readers will be unfamiliar with him as well (I know I had never heard of him) since he was originally a Wildstorm Comics creation. I initially gave the baddie the benefit of the doubt, but after reading Part 2, I’m really not that enthusiastic about what he has to offer.

The artwork by Jae Lee will undoubtedly please a lot of fans and I know that I’m in the minority about him so I took that into account with my score. Personally, I think he’s great for comic covers but not for sequential storytelling and I gave a long explanation as to why (flat, static, no backgrounds, Superman looks too feminine, faces lack expression) I think that in previous reviews. The good thing about Jae Lee is that his style is definitely unique and his work totally sets any book he works on apart from everything else at the comic shop and I think that’s a positive thing.

Recommended If…

  • Jae Lee is an artist you adore
  • Worlds’ Finest is in your pull-list or you’ve been at all curious about the title and all things “Earth 2”
  • You like a more cynical, paranoid, and all-around dickish Batman
  • The first Greg Pak and Jae Lee Batman/Superman story “Cross World” is something you hold in high regard

Overall

It’s fun but fleeting. We have all these heroes pulling together to fight a bad guy who is completely forgettable and I wish that the interactions between Huntress and Batman were more meaningful. Some of the more humorous exchanges and Jae Lee’s stylistic artwork should be enough to satisfy many fans– and I suspect many of you will be buying this for Jae Lee’s art alone– but after reading Part II in Worlds’ Finest #20 I would advise caution before getting too excited about this crossover event. Batman/Superman #8 is a decent comic, but I just don’t get the sense that “First Contact” is leading anywhere special.

SCORE: 7/10

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