Superman/Batman #26 is a special tribute issue to Sam Loeb. Sam was Jeph Loeb’s son who had cancer and died at the age of 17 on June 17th, 2005. Sam had plotted Superman/Batman #26, but sadly passed away before he could script the story and see it published. So, enter the “26.” The “26” are the number of writers and artists who all pitched in to finish Sam’s story. I usually like to be funny and smart assed with my reviews. Not with this one. On to the review.
Plot: Sam Loeb
Script: Jeph Loeb, Geoff Johns, Brian K. Vaughn, Allan Heinberg, Paul Levitz, Mark Verheiden, Richard Stakings, Brad Meltzer, Audrey Loeb, Joe Kelly, Joe Casey and Joss Whedon
Art: Ed McGuiness, Jim Lee, Tim Sale, Pat Lee, Carlos Pacheco, Mike Kunkel, Duncan Rouleau, Ian Churchill, Rob Liefield, Joe Madureira, Art Adams, Joyce Chin, Jeff Matsuda, John Cassaday, Dexter Vines, Scott Williams and Jesus Merino
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10.
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10.
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10.
Synopsis: The issue starts with Robin speaking to the reader telling us how much he misses his good friends Superboy.
We then cut to a flashback tale. Superman and Batman had summoned Robin and Superboy to meet them. Tim and Conner joke that they are in trouble for the party they threw in the Fortress of Solitude and how Batgirl threw up in the bathroom and Conner never cleaned it up. Batman and Superman tell the two young heroes that the new Toyman, Hiro Okumura (a 13 year old Japanese kid) has not been heard from in thirty days and that Batman was supposed to have had a new Batmobile delivered to him weeks ago. (That’s Batman for you. Just concerned with his new set of wheels, that’s all. He is so “me” oriented.)
Robin and Superboy take off for Japan. Hiro’s secret base looks like it was attacked and destroyed by someone. Suddenly, the original Toyman, Schlott, appears and says that he has captured Hiro and if they cannot find Hiro in 30 minutes then he will be dead. Superboy says that the Toyman is ticking and punches the Toyman’s head off and he is in fact just a robot.
At that point Robin and Superboy fall through the floor into a room full of giant deadly toys that attack them. From this point on, the story just has Robin and Superboy go from crazy insane room to another fighting all sorts of outlandish threats like robot version of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, a roomful of ninjas, a hot tub with Raven, Starfire and Wonder Girl fembots and giant frogs from the old videogame “Frogger.”
In the final scene with the giant frogs from “Frogger”, Robin figures out that to escape this room they must get “squished” by the giant frogs. Once they get “squished” they suddenly appear outside the entrance to Hiro’s base. Hiro is standing there clapping his hands and congratulation them on solving the puzzle. Hiro tells them that he did all of this because he was bored and he wanted to have some fun with Superboy and Robin. Robin tells Hiro that if he is feeling lonely then all he has to do is call them and that they will visit and hang out with him. Hiro is psyched to have friends since he spends so much time alone.
We then cut back to present time and Raven, Cyborg, Beast Boy, Wonder Girl and Robin are all standing around the Superboy statue outside Titans Tower. They are all crying. Robin says “They say that people live on…that you don’t forget them if you talk about them. Tell stories about them. Okay. I get it now…” End of story.
This issue has a 6 page backup story written by Jeph Loeb and art by Tim Sale. It is titled “Sam’s Story.” It is narrated by Jonathon Kent. Pa Kent talks about a boy names Sam who was friends with Clark. That Sam had the gift of being able to make Clark laugh. That Sam would make fun of how odd life was. That when Clark laughed, Jonathon and Martha Kent would forget how he was different from other boys. Jonathon says that to this day he wishes Clark would laugh more. One day, Sam was in school on crutches and told Clark that it was a soccer injury. Clark’s x-ray vision saw something else. Clark saw a cancer spot on Sam’s leg bone.
Later, Sam came by Clark’s house. Sam was bald and told Clark “It’s my ‘Lex Luthor’ look. C’mon, I’m dead sexy.” Sam then tells Clark that he has cancer. Clark asks what he can do. Sam responds that Clark can keep doing what he always does. Laugh at his stupid jokes and be his pal. Sam says that “Clark. I’ve got the best friends, the best doctors, the best outlook. Don’t worry.” Sam’s cancer was spreading from his leg to his jaw and was now in his lungs. Clark worried about Sam from that day on.
Three days later, while Clark was at school, his teacher told the class that Sam had died. Clark ran from school and ran all the way into the night. Jonathon found Clark on their front porch at 3 am. Clark was distraught. Jonathon told Clark that only two things are life are definite: birth and death and that you don’t have any say over either of them. Jonathon continues to say that all that matters is what you do in between. That is how you live your life. Clark says life is unfair as he curls up into his father’s arms. All Jonathon can do is agree and hold his son.
The story ends with Superman standing at Sam’s grave. Jonathan narrates that Clark later went to Sam’s house and found a note that had fallen under Sam’s bed. The note had been written 4 months proper to his death. The note read “Your destiny does not lie in a hospital bed. Far greater achievements are to come. Own your destiny. Best friends, best doctors, best outlook, no worries. –Sam 2/17” End of issue.
The Good: This is a one shot issue with a collaborative effort with the writing chores and art duties. Therefore, I judge it differently than a single issue in a monthly title. For a one shot collaborative issue, this was very well done. All the writers did a great job scripting Sam Loeb’s story. I thought the dialogue was hilarious! This was a very bittersweet issue. The first and last pages were sad, but the storyline of Robin and Superboy was a funny and entertaining read.
I also like the plot of the story. Hiro is a genius who can do incredible things. He is so far above everyone else that he has a hard time relating to people. Plus, he lives separate from society. But, Hiro is still just a 13 year old boy. And he has the typical wants and desires that a 13 year old boy has. I think it was cool that the entire disappearance was nothing more than Hiro trying to get Robin and Superboy to come see him and have some “fun.” The ending was perfect with Robin and Superboy just telling Hiro to give them a call and they will hang out. No need to build deathtraps!
The backup story by Jeph Loeb about his son Sam was extremely touching. I got choked up reading it. Maybe when I was a teen-ager I wouldn’t really be able to relate with the loss that Jeph Loeb as suffered. But, now that I have a two year old son, I simply cannot imagine burying my boy. I cannot imagine the overwhelming pain and suffering that must have caused Jeph. The sorrow that chokes your throat and presses on your chest making it hard to breathe. I cannot begin to comprehend such an tragic loss.
No matter what happens, Jeph will never be the same. No matter how hard he tries or what life brings him, he will never be able to get over the loss of his son. The backup story must have been so hard to write and at the same time very cathartic.
This issue was very well done. It mourned the loss of both Superboys. Conner and Sam.
The Bad: No complaints.