Review: Superman/Batman: Supergirl hardcover collection (DC Comics)

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

I liked Superman/Batman: Supergirl, though I liked Superman/Batman: Public Enemies more. There seems to be a certain style to Jeph Loeb's writing--which I like, overall; I thought his work on Superman was pure genius--where each issue ends with a "how could that happen" cliffhanger, only to discover the next issue that it actually didn't happen, but it was actually a ruse that one, some, or most of the title characters were in on it. Which was pretty cool, really, when Grant Morrison was doing it back in JLA, but in Superman/Batman, it feels more like "fool me once ..."

Superman/Batman: Public Enemies was a story about breaking something down, whereas Superman/Batman: Supergirl was a story about building something up. In that way, I guess they bookend each other well. At the same time, Superman/Batman: Public Enemies was largely a story about renewed cooperation between Superman and Batman, where Superman/Batman: Supergirl was a story about Superman and Batman in conflict--and, for a change, a conflict where Wonder Woman was on Batman's side. I liked this, and I liked this dynamic, and I liked how JL brought to the forefront that both Batman and Wonder Woman had shared tragedy in common--the death of sidekicks Jason Todd and Donna Troy (though, watch this space for my spoiler opinons on that).

What I couldn't get around, however, was how trusting Jeph Loeb had to make Superman to put Superman on the opposite side from Batman. I mean, surely, surely Superman must know that speaking Kryptonese, knowing a couple names, and having a couple powers does not an Supergirl make (did the Cir-El fiasco not teach him anything?). Any villain from Dominus to Zod to Darkseid to Luthor could have faked that. Heck, even the dog wasn't sure about her! But Superman arrives at trust through his heart, while Batman arrives at trust through the facts, and while that came through well, I felt at times that Superman came across as foolish.

I also think I came to this comic with something of a handicap, given that I started reading comics in the late 1980s-early '90s, after Kara Zor-el was already gone and Matrix was the only Supergirl around. Now, if Jeph Loeb wanted to bring back Peter David's Linda Danvers, I might get a bit more excited. But the last page, with Supergirl backlit in uniform with glowing captions all around ... the team seems a bit too excited about a blonde-haired sixteen year old girl for my tastes. But I'm being too harsh; I do understand their excitement.

Great art, by the way, by Michael Turner; I wasn't a big fan of his pointy-chinned Darkseid, but I did think he drew the scariest Doomsday I've ever seen. I am curious to see what Jeph Loeb will do in the Supergirl series; without Matrix, it seems like something of a limited concept in the hands of a lesser writer, doomed to repeat Supergirl's pre-Crisis adventures. But this is Jeph Loeb, and he's promised some Identity Crisis tie-ins; I'm eager to see if he can bring his Long Halloween-type mystery style to Supergirl, and how that will turn out.

Not sure what to read next ... I may go back through Joe Kelly's JLA run, through to reviewing JLA: The Tenth Circle and JLA: Pain of the Gods. Or maybe something else; we'll see. Suggestions?

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1 comment:

  1. Thought this was BY FAR the best of the Superman/Batman stories so far. I'm not as well versed in the Supergirl lore, and maybe that helped, but loved the story and the Darksied climax at the end.

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