The newly relaunched Batman/Superman comic book series grabbed my interest right away. A chance to see the two greatest super heroes meeting each other and working together for the first time was too much to ignore. When the Man of Steel and Dark Knight from Earth 2 showed up, much of my excitement was killed. I really expected more from this newly resurrected book than what I felt was a typical foray into the tedious alternate universe storylines we’ve been getting as of late. It just felt like the easy way was being taken instead of coming up with something fresh and new.
Batman/Superman Annual #1 finds the galactic villain Mongul banished to the Phantom Zone after being captured by Batman and Superman. However, Earth is not safe from his grasp or reign of destruction. Mongul’s son seeks vengeance for his father’s death and he will have it. If the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight refuse to bring their families to battle each other in gladiatorial combat, the alien madman will release the full extent of his catastrophic powers on the Earth. Will the two super clans do as the sinister offspring commands and battle each other to the death? Or will they find a way to escape such a terrible fate and stop the World from being decimated?
Writer Greg Pak takes Batman/Superman Annual #1 in a different direction. Granted, it might be a direction he’s been heading in for a while, since I haven’t kept up with the book on a regular basis. I usually have to wait for the graphic novel collections to catch up on everything. The tale is filled with enough action and intrigue to keep the attention of both avid and new readers.
I feel sorry for anyone who has to follow up artist Jae Lee’s work and the same goes for Batman/Superman Annual #1. Expectations are built up by the incredible cover of the book. The first 16 pages establish the storyline and introduce the main players. It gives Lee a chance to visually bring to life most of the major players and establish himself as the unique voice of the three pencilers featured here. I’m not putting down Kenneth Rocafort or Philip Tan’s work, but I find Lee to be a singular beam of light in the world of comic book art.
I’m not sure where Batman/Superman is heading as a monthly series. I can say that the first annual of the series has gained my interest back. I actually enjoy the Earth 2 books quite a bit and find their approach to the different super heroes and their alternate origins fascinating. I just wasn’t looking for that when I cracked open the second issue of Batman/Superman. Here’s hoping Greg Pak continues to expand the horizons of this book and Jae Lee keeps bringing his beautiful handiwork to the table.
Batman/Superman Annual #1 is available now in print and Kindle editions.
For more articles by Eric Shirey, check out:
“Superman / Batman: Sorcerer Kings” Graphic Novel Review
Grant Morrison’s “Batman and Son” Gets a New Edition
“Man of Steel” Draws Parallels from Biblical Characters and Stories