Book of the Week: Superman/Batman #75

By | August 26th, 2010
Posted in Reviews | % Comments

You’re invited to a spectacular anniversary celebration as Paul Levitz unites the World’s Finest with the super-team he’s best known for — the Legion of Super-Heroes! Lex Luthor has finally unleashed a threat powerful enough to gain the Legion’s attention in the far future, but to take Luthor down, they’ll have to journey into the past and ask for help from both Batman and Superboy!

Plus, Joe Kelly and various writers and artists chronicle the history of The Man of Steel and The Dark Knight in adventures that span from yesterday into the far beyond! Adam Hughes writes and draws a tale starring Supergirl and Batgirl, J.T. Krul and Francis Manipul deliver a tale of Superboy and Red Robin seeking advice from their mentors, Ace and Krypto get leashed by Duncan Rouleau, David Finch writes and illustrates a story for the first time, and Joe Kelly, Steven T. Seagle, Billy Tucci and many more surprises help commemorate this anniversary extravaganza!

What did we at Multiversity think of this epic anniversary issue? Find out after the jump.

Matt’s Thoughts: 75 issues. Damn. And I’ve probably read a handful of this book’s issues total! Maybe a trade as well. It’s been a pretty impressive run of talent on the book though, and 75 marks the end of the editorial reign of Eddie Berganza. So how do they celebrate? By throwing a huge bash and getting an all star line up of creative talent to do the book.

The main story is by Paul Levitz with art by Jerry Ordway. The story revolves around the Cult of Luthor in the future returning to the past to attempt to take Superman out and pave the way for the reign of Lex. To be honest, this story was one of the drawbacks of the issue to me. Don’t get me wrong, I like Levitz a ton, and am totally digging the Legion on-going. But his work in Adventure Comics has been hit and miss, and this is definitely one of the more miss stories. It just generally feels underdeveloped and doesn’t really go anywhere. We’ve got interactions with Superman and Batman, but it’s not really a Superman/Batman story so much as it is a Legion story featuring Superman, with a cameo by Batman. It kind of defeats the purpose, if you ask me.

Luckily, the rest of the issue acts as a wonderful make-up. The rest of the issue is comprised of two page stories by some of DC’s top creators. We’ve got a beautifully illustrated sequence by Francis Manapul featuring a great use of blues and reds, we’ve got some gorgeous watercolors by Jill Thompson, and a heart breaking sequence by Adam Hughes. This is some absolutely dynamite work here, people. While some of it falls a tad short (like Steven Seagle’s, which I expected more from, and David Finch’s seemed to contradict continuity quite a tad), by the time you get to Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo’s, the issue becomes 100% worth the purchase. That’s all I’ll say about that, but trust me – it’s awesome.

As far as anniversary issues go, I generally found this to be rather entertaining. To be honest, I think it would have even been better without the main story. Just get a ton of these two page short stories. They work out fantastically, and the freedom that creators have to really have fun with their stories is immense. It’s kind of like Wednesday Comics in a fashion, just very condensed, and ultimately worth your dollar, even if you haven’t bought Superman/Batman regularly. And on the plus side, the Legion story does act somewhat as a prelude to Levitz’s current Legion title.

David’s Thoughts: I originally wasn’t going to purchase this book even though I loved a lot of the creators involved (namely Francis Manapul and Rafael Albuquerque). Then I got to my store and flipped through the book and decided it was worth a purchase and I found myself mostly not regretting that decision.

For me, it genuinely seemed like some creators really got what makes the Batman and Superman dynamic so special, and others really missed entirely. From the top, we’ve got Paul Levitz and Jerry Ordway combining for a Legion centric story that seems to both hit and miss simultaneously. I dig the concept – a Kryptonite Luthor jumping through time to kill Superman (aided by the Legion and Batman) – but the actual execution seems to fall victim to the same reasons why I found Levitz’s Legion title to be so mediocre. His Silver Age style writing distracts me with its overly expository narrative style, and having creators announce things that should come natural to the story is something that comes with the style. Ordway’s art was a throwback as well, yet it worked better than Levitz’s script.

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The rest of the book was up and down as well. However, there were some genuine gems. First off, the Calvin & Hobbes inspired story of Lex Luthor and The Joker hanging out by Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo? Wonderful. Just wonderful. Bermejo does an uncanny Bill Watterson impersonation, and Azzarello’s script is just zany and childish enough to fit the innocent vibe while still having a demented turn. The throwback section to an earlier Superman/Batman arc with Rafael Albuqueruque in tow was also very enjoyable, as was J.T. Krul and Francis Manapul’s bit that featured Connor and Tim talking to Supes and Dick respectively about Tim kissing Cassie previously. Krul’s script was surprisingly charming, while Manapul was his standard A+ self, especially in his usage of colored inks to indicate Batman or Superman centric sections. Adam Hughes two page splash was beautiful and well conceived, and it was nice to get the women of Superman/Batman a shout out.

The best one though? Peter Tomasi and Gene Ha’s contribution called “We Can Be Heroes.” This effort did a brilliant job of not only giving us a look at the relationship between Batman and Superman in a fresh way, but it also gave us a beautiful look at the effect these characters have had on readers. This little tale about a father and his son who have carved out a niche in their lives together in which the former is Batman and the latter is Superman is both touching, funny and remarkably perfect for the book.

However, there were some negative parts. I found David Finch’s section to be unnecessarily dark for this collection, but a kind of cool shout out to a potential future. Even though I’m typically a big fan of Man of Action, I found Steven Seagle’s contribution uninteresting and Duncan Rouleau’s perhaps too fluffy. Billy Tucci’s art…I just can’t stand.

Given that this book has been a bit up and down since its inception, it only makes sense that this anniversary issue was as well. However, there’s a lot of good in here to be found, albeit at perhaps too high of a price to pay for some really quality two page stories.

Gil’s Thoughts: And it ends. It’s a little surprising that this book, once my favorite series on the market (during the Loeb run anyway) fell off the radar until it finally met it’s ultimate fate. It’s kind of sad, but when this was no longer the driving force in DC’s continuity, it just lost all relevance.

But enough complaining; the book itself was a fitting sendoff for the book. It, much like the rest of the series, had its ups and downs. The main story, while a great concept, doesn’t QUITE follow through. It’s so close, but it’s just shy of being good. The art is serviceable, but a little bland. Jerry Ordway’s art looks good, but at the same time, is virtually indistinguishable from other artists. Oh well.

The backups also ran the gamut. There was a story by Peter Tomasi about a father and son which was really touching heartfelt. JT Krul and Francis Manapul’s short is absolutely stunning to look at, and a pleasure to read. The great thing is, most of them were great.

There was one I took issue with. There was an epilogue of sorts to the Li’l Leaguers arc from a couple years back, and I feel it took all emotional resonance out of the original story. Don’t get me wrong, Albuquerque’s art was fantastic, and the story does FIT with the theme of the arc on which it was following up, but was it really necessary? The original ending had such a strong impact that it was one of my favorites, almost as good as Loeb’s run, but now it feels just a little less. Disappointing.

Matthew Meylikhov

Once upon a time, Matthew Meylikhov became the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Multiversity Comics, where he was known for his beard and fondness for cats. Then he became only one of those things. Now, if you listen really carefully at night, you may still hear from whispers on the wind a faint voice saying, "X-Men Origins: Wolverine is not as bad as everyone says it issss."