The jury is still out as far as Verheiden’s job as writer on Superman/Batman. I love Van Sciver’s artwork so my only concern was whether the writing would be on par with the artwork. I liked the last issue and I have a feeling that Superman/Batman #29 should be a pretty entertaining read. Let’s hit the review and find out.
Writer: Mark Verheiden
Artist: Ethan Van Sciver
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: This issue starts with Batman blasting Martian Manhunter with a fame thrower. Martian Manhunter swats away the flame thrower and grabs Batman by the neck and demands to know why he is trying to burn him. Batman responds that he had to make sure it was actually J’onn.
We then shift to Batman filling in Martian Manhunter about the events of last issue where a shape shifter took J’onn’s form and attacked him. Batman asks Martian Manhunter if he knows anything about this. J’onn responds that Batman’s shoot first and ask questions later attitude speaks volumes for Bruce’s character. J’onn says that even if he knew something why would he trust the information with a human like Batman. And with a swish of the cape J’onn leaves.
We cut to S.T.A.R. Labs where John Stewart is examining his ring. He has a gut feeling that there is something wrong with his power ring. Sure enough, the tests results show that there is a subtle change in the refraction pattern and color in the central jewel. Suddenly, a giant emerald fist smashes through the roof and grabs John’s power ring. John falls the ground unconscious from the blow of the green energy fist.
We then shift to an old school 1950’s style Lois Lane approaches Clark in the Daily Planet. Lois goes off on Clark about how his flesh is just a construct. That he knows that is the case and for him to look deep into his soul. Suddenly, the real Lois Lane shows up and punches out the 1950’s Lois Lane. The 1950’s Lois Lane transforms into a Kryptonian powered cave man and locks horns with Superman. Superman takes the fight outside of the building where Hal Jordan shows up and quickly contains the super powered cave man.
Hal tells Superman that there is a government alien containment facility where they can contain this super powered cave man. (The transition between these scenes is a little confusing.) Superman then meets with Batman at the government facility. Batman asks Superman why he is late. That Hal told him that Superman wanted to meet him here at 4 pm. Superman is confused. Superman says that he never asked for a meeting. That Hal gave him a hand containing the shape shifter. Suddenly, a massive green energy blast hits Superman. Batman yells that Jordan set them up. Due to the massive energy blast, Batman falls into a lower level of the government base where he comes face to face with a giant pink alien who took on Green Lantern years ago. The creature who could not die.
At this point, Hal Jordan comes blazing in and starts fighting with Superman. Hal tells Superman that he is not alone. That there are others. Hal tells Jordan to either join them or die. Meanwhile, we see Batman taking down the giant pink alien with some split power cables.
Superman and Hal Jordan fly back to Batman. Batman bum rushes Hal demanding to know Hal Jordan’s explanation. Hal said it wasn’t him. That it was the power ring. Evidently, the creature used Hal to free all of the aliens from the government base. Evidently there is a power capable of corrupting a power ring and controlling the mind of the person who wields the power ring.
Suddenly, a massive green energy blast takes out our three heroes. We then Kilowog standing over Superman. Kilowog says that “When you defy the ring, you defy me!” End of issue.
The Good: Superman/Batman #29 was a pretty good read. It wasn’t a fantastic issue, but it was entertaining enough. The opening scene was cool. Typical Batman. Why ask Martian Manhunter if it is him when you can blast him with a flame thrower to find out. J’onn’s contempt for Batman is no surprise. J’onn, as we have seen in his mini-series, is over mankind. And he certainly is over humans like Batman. It is pretty clear that this New Earth’s Batman is still pretty unlikable by other super heroes. And I’m ok with that. I like my Batman to be a little unlikable. His distrust and aggressive attitude is what allows him to hand with heroes who are vastly more powerful.
The scene with the shape shifter brawling with Superman and Green Lantern was nicely done. It was pretty funny seeing a 1950’s style Lois Lane. Verheiden lays the foundation for the plotline involving Superman being targeted by this alien creature as a potential ally.
The ending was pretty cool. A pissed off Kilowog being controlled by whatever alien force is controlling his power ring is certainly a very scary adversary. This was a good ending that made me interested in getting the next issue. You know we should be in store for some quality action next issue.
I think that Verheiden has a nice feel for both Superman and Batman. I like how he writes both heroes and constantly contrasts their personality differences. I like the nasty edge that Verheiden gives Batman without him being a total dickhead. I also like Verheiden’s Superman. He is strong and confident and truly is a good person who wants nothing more than to do the right thing. These two men make for an excellent contrast with each other. Plus they make a formidable team because of their differences. Verheiden makes a point of showing that Superman’s weakness is not just Kryptonite. He has an emotional weakness and attachment to people around him like Lois. That makes him emotionally vulnerable. Batman is not emotionally vulnerable and is naturally distrusting so he makes up for Superman’s weaknesses in those areas. On the other hand, Superman makes up for Batman’s lack of physical firepower. I am really enjoying how Verheiden is handling the teamwork and interaction between these two characters.
Verheiden serves up some solid dialogue. I think Verheiden definitely know how to write some very interesting dialogue for Batman. Verheiden does a nice job making sure that each character has their own unique voice. Even in Martian Manhunter’s cameo appearance in the beginning of the issue, Verheiden was able to give the reader a nice feel for J’onn’s character and mesh it in with J’onn’s attitude over in his mini-series. That was a nice little touch.
Nobody draws Green Lanterns better than Van Sciver. Just incredible. I will admit up front that Van Sciver is one of my top 5 favorite artists, so it is no surprise that loved his artwork in this issue. Van Sciver draws a wonderfully detailed comic book that is a joy to look at. Plus, Van Sciver actually draws a hot Lois Lane. Maybe the guys drawing Action and Superman could learn something from Van Sciver’s Lois.
The Bad: The pacing in this issue was too hurried and the transitions between the scenes were slightly clumsy and a little confusing. Especially during the transition from Hal helping Superman to Superman meeting with Batman and then getting attacked by Hal. This issue just didn’t have a particularly well crafted flow or rhythm to it.
The scene with Hal Jordan attacking Superman and Batman fighting with the large alien provided for some nice action. However, I’m getting a bit sick and tired of seeing Hal Jordan controlled by something and forced to do evil. It is officially old. I’m also tired of Batman constantly thinking that Hal Jordan is a traitor. I understand the issues they had when Hal initially returned. That was justifiable and interesting. However, this plotline should have been put to rest after Infinite Crisis when Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman realized they had to change in order to be better heroes and role models.
Now, we get treated to more of the same distrusting Batman constantly accusing Hal of being a traitor and being unable to trust him or treat him like a fellow hero. It is just getting old with me and is losing its impact with each time it is re-hashed. I’m not saying they have to be all friendly with each other, but constantly having Batman view Hal as one step away from being a villain has gone on long enough. Plus, it is time that Hal was finally treated as a hero and stop having to keep dealing with the Parallax issue constantly.
I think that the plotline with the shape shifter, the aliens who were freed from the government facility and the force controlling the power rings isn’t very well structured and seems a but confusing and muddled. Maybe after another issue or two Verheiden will be able to better focus and tighten up this story.
Overall: Superman/Batman #29 was a good issue. It wasn’t anything amazing, but it certainly was a good read. The art is incredible and the writing is solid. I think that Verheiden will continue to improve with each issue. This is a comic that is stronger in the art category than in the writing category. However, it is still a quality comic book that is worth checking out.