Let’s face it, I haven’t been a huge fan of The New 52. I was pretty upset that Oracle was wiped from the DCU and Stephanie Brown never donned the Batgirl mantle. Whether or not I have problems with DC’s new direction I can’t ignore a good comic.
This absolutely rocked.
I bought issue one when it came out and it just didn’t click for me, so I passed on the rest. That was an error in judgement. Yes the stars of this series are the 20-something Batman and Superman that run around the New 52 world but in this series we get to see what I like to consider the real deals as well. Bringing the Earth2 Batman and Superman (as well as some of their supporting characters) into this book was a brilliant story idea. The clash between the styles and personalities was just what I needed to come out on the other side appreciating both (all four?) all the more.
The visual style of this book is amazing. Part Tim Burton’s Batman, part Metropolis (the film), the Gothic spires of Gotham hold any number of dark uncomfortable things, and Clark Kent is anything but comfortable there. The Kent farm? Idyllic and Rockwellian (I coined a word! Maybe) with a darkness that hints at this world’s true heart.
Greg Pak uses squaring off the Batmans and Supermans from two worlds as an opportunity to showcase the flaws in both the New52 and the Earth 2 (though in my opinion he prefers the Earth 2). Bruce sees Clark as sanctimonious immediately upon seeing him interact with people. And Pak shows just how smart even the New 52 Batman is by how completely Clark is taken in by Bruce, never suspecting him as Batman, some ace reporter huh? Bruce on the other hand is shown as totally obsessed with loss of his father and mother. And a very astute investigator, who none the less doesn’t peg Clark as Supes either.
The plot is fairly straight-forward at first, executives from Wayne Industries are dying (hence Clark’s trip to Gotham in issue opening). And Bruce is investigating from both ends. When Batman tries to apprehend a surprisingly aggressive Catwoman he’s interrupted by Superman who begins to beat him to a pulp. Batman uses every trick in the book and is more than holding his own when the game abruptly changes.
The being that’s been manipulating Catwoman (The Chaos Bringer), and the overall situation (and yes this is the first we see of it) decides to up the ante, causing the two to jump worlds. Or maybe just Superman, or well honestly I got a little confused here for a bit, but I got back into the story immediately.
The New52 Superman winds up in Smallville and is thrown completely for a loop by what he finds, and this time the Batman he meets has a much better handle on the situation and on Superman.
Meanwhile New52 Batman winds up on Earth 2, and has some revelations of his own. But true to form both Batmans begin to figure out what’s going on and The Chaos Bringer has to mess with everything again by pitting the heroes against their own counterparts.
Things seem like they could go on like this forever until Pak, in a moment of infinite wisdom, brings the Earth 2 Wonder Woman into the mix. Every page is beautiful, but the introduction of Wonder Woman is breathtaking.
Then just when everything seems to be shaping up The Chaos Bringer tricks them again and this time we see her real agenda, Darkseid is coming. Which world’s heroes will do what’s necessary to stop him?
As I said in the beginning this was a great mini-series, one I shouldn’t have overlooked the first time. If you didn’t read it then (and even if you did) don’t miss it now.
5 out of 5.
Batman/Superman Vol. 1: Cross World (The New 52)
Written by Greg Pak
Illustrated by Jae Lee, Ben Oliver
$22.99 USD / $26.99 CAD
On Sale Date: May 6, 2014