This must be the Madden video game curse for comic books. Apparently, if an athlete is featured on the cover of a new Madden video game, that player will suffer significant injuries during the following season. Admittedly, I don’t watch/care for much football, but I can safely say this: if an artist’s name is “Lee” and is associated with a monthly comic, you can just about guarantee that comic will suffer from significant delays. Call it the “Lee” curse. Regardless, we finally get the next issue of Batman/Superman this week and it’s still to be seen if all the wait has been for naught.
We begin the issue with this series’ favorite demon: Kaiyo. For those of you who don’t know her, her full name will describe her sufficiently: Kaiyo Chaosbringer of Apokolips. There you go. She runs into Lord Satanus, the ruler of Earth’s dark realm…ahem, hell?…and she quickly offers up Batman and Superman who’ve had their memories as ransom erased so she can be set free. A couple problems at this point. First, I don’t know why Satanus will want a memory vacant Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent, but we’re promised more in the next issue about this. Finger crossed, though I’ll accept it. The second problem is the memory thing. Our group editor, Eddie Berganza, reminds us that back in issue #12 Kaiyo erased their memories. Indeed, they seem to not remember a thing in this issue. But step back one issue to #11 (a “Doomed” tie-in to be fair) and they are able to recount an absurd amount of things* (*See my review –Jesse). I’m aware that #13 is happening in the past and “Doomed” is happening currently, but it reads really strange, so just be aware: this issue is in the past. Good.
We are shown the very first moments that Earth-1 Batman and Superman return home. Superman is obviously naked(?), and Batman is fully clothed. They know absolutely nothing about themselves or their surroundings and must act instinctually to the threats with which they are presented. Greg Pak, who likes these head games, puts us in the internal monologues of Bruce and Clark, and they are entertaining. As I read Bruce’s, I couldn’t help but think of Frank Miller’s All-Star Batman & Robin: The Boy Wonder because Bruce is genuinely thrilled to be doing what he’s doing. The car, the reflexes, the cave: he is excited. There is no past to weigh him down which would give us the serious and brooding Batman we’ve known. I particularly enjoyed that section even though I felt odd about the whole amnesia thing in general.
Superman’s discovery of self is quite shorter than Batman’s, but is still good to read. Superman seems to be more cautious yet gullibly calculating, if there is such a thing. He is naked, and even flipping back through issue #12 that Eddie pointed us toward, I’m not sure why. He appears with Catwoman who is being attacked by robots presumably from Ralph Mangubat back in issue #1.
Lois Lane is featured as a prominent character as well. She is riding a train on her way to interview Mangubat who has escaped from jail, killing three cops in the process. His robots attack the train, knocking it off course and try to use Lois as protection so Superman won’t kill him. Why would Superman kill him? We don’t know, but that is Mangubat’s fear. Clark doesn’t know who Superman is, but he eventually finds some pants with a big “S” as a belt-buckle by the end of the issue. He shows up in time to save only Lois Lane from falling to her death, unlike the dozens of other passengers aboard the train that Mangubat’s robot snapped in half. Too bad for them.
I’m at a crossroads with this series. I feel like it could drop off and I would care nothing at all about what happens if this next issue (in October, not the Futures End special next month) sucks. Though, if the next issue proves itself (i.e. Satanus doesn’t seem stupid) I’ll be exquisitely stoked. I didn’t hate what I read here, but some of my curiosity deflated with this issue. I loved the opening arc of the series, but it’s been so long ago and so interrupted that my focus is way off. I hope that this new Satanus stuff pays off, but I have to admit that my shoulders dropped when finished the issue. I, but. I, but. Positive, negative. Positive, negative. See? I’m conflicted. Greg Pak, I trust your knowledge of my favorite heroes. I know you have their voices down pat. I am rooting for you and have faith. I believe, but help my unbelief!
One final note about the artwork. There have been a variety of complaints about Jae Lee’s style. The weird angular faces, the foggy, lackluster backgrounds. Well, the faces are still squinty and different, but Lee’s backgrounds are definitely more present in this issue compared to #1. I enjoyed the foggy stuff from the first arc, but I really enjoyed the rooted and sketchy nuances of the backgrounds in this issue. You can still find a few panels with that watercolor emptiness, however, I don’t see it as a problem. It still definitely looks like a Jae Lee drawn comic (and he did the whole issue!) which I find enjoyable.
- You liked that first run and wanted to know what the heck happened when Bruce and Clark came back to Earth.
- You like to get in the heads of the characters on the page.
- You’re a fan of Jae Lee’s artwork.
Batman/Superman picks up where it left off many months ago. For some, it may be a bit of a problem understanding all that’s happened if previous issues aren’t consulted. For others who loved the first arc, it will be a happy continuation in the study of what makes Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent “tick”. I’m mostly on board with this issue and am nervously curious with what will come next month, quarter, or year… whenever #14 comes out.