Written by Greg Pak
Art by Jae Lee (pg 1-18), Ben Oliver (19-25)
Published by DC Comics
It’s finally here! The team-up everyone has been waiting for since the reboot two years ago, and even if you weren’t really waiting for it…who doesn’t love Bats and Supes working together?
A little different this time, I have to start by talking about the art. Jae Lee and Ben Oliver do absolutely brilliant. And I understand that Jae Lee’s stuff might be a bit of an acquired taste, especially in some of the facial features and body movements. The panels of the children fighting in Gotham City and a few panels of the victim and his daughter were strange but at the same time, it just seemed to fit. In those same scenes, the way Bruce and Clark are made is nothing short of breathtaking. One panel/page that really stands out to me is when Bruce is introduced. Even though it was really supposed to just be background, the bench and statue made me absolutely speechless. Combined with the bottom panel close-up of Bruce looking the slightest bit evil, with the bright eyes and half in shadow, it really gave this book a dark and slightly gothic-feeling. A major thanks to the colorist of this section, June Chung.
Even panels with Clark gave off this feeling that I don’t normally get when reading about our beloved alien. The full page of Clark busting in on Batman and Catwoman gave off this dream-like/nightmare-ish feel. And the top panel immediately following kind of reminded me of a strange sort of Renaissance/Baroque art. I literally got goose bumps and shivered while reading this issue.
One of the most successful pages of the whole issue was the double-truck of Bruce and Clark’s lives, with Clark on one half and Bruce on the other. The contrast between their upbringings, but the equal love they had for their parents is beautiful in every sense. And Clark hanging upside down by his suspenders will never not make me smile.
The transition between Lee and Ben Oliver was more or less flawless in my eyes. I didn’t realize the change until a few pages into it. But even so, Oliver’s stuff was just as gorgeous as Lee’s. I think my favorite page had to be when Clark was getting poisoned by the kryptonite, from the little smirk Batman has when he asks, “What’s with the jeans?” to Clark’s face as the kryptonite infects his system. And not to take anything away from Oliver, but I think a lot of the effectiveness of his pages comes from the colors of Daniel Brown. A completely different weight from the city-pages of Lee/Chung, it actually feels like you’re on the farm.
Greg Pak’s writing was just as amazing. You can tell right from the get-go that this is our favorite costumed lads when they were much younger, before they had everything figured out. I know too much inner monologue is a bit touch-and-go with a lot of comic book readers, but I think it really fit the format of this issue. It shows their mindsets before the Justice League, before they had allies. Bruce was really intriguing, as it’s pretty blaringly obvious that this is before any of the birdboys or Batgirl, so he seems to still be full of that hate and anger we seem glimpses of in current Batbooks. Even Clark doesn’t seem to be the Superman as I think of him now. He seems much more naïve and quick to use excessive force, much less trustworthy or accepting.
But the mixture of monologues and dialogue was ridiculously well done, with neither character getting preference over the other, something as a fan of both characters I was a bit nervous about. And like the page of their childhoods, I enjoyed how the writing compared and contrasted how these two characters work and think, and how they will one day fit together. Even though this is only the first issue of a hopefully long run, Pak expertly caught what makes the Supes and Bats bromance amazing, even if they aren’t actually working together yet.
The climax of the story caught me a bit my surprise, and I actually had to read it a few times before I vaguely understood what had happened. I suspect that the Batman in Smallville is not the one who had been in the entirety of the book thus far, and that next issue we’ll find out where he was transported. Are they on Earth 2 perhaps?
While I knew this book was coming, it kind of snuck up on me. Even so, after reading it, I wondered how we’ve survived the two years in the New52 without it. Not everything was explained in this issue – like who possessed Selina Kyle or why were Clark and Bruce teleported – but it was a promising setup for what is looking to be a fantastic story arc and DC title.
5 out of 5 nerds