Not what you’d expect… And that’s a great thing!
Synopsis: The Dark Knight and the Man of Steel meet for the very first time–but this adventure takes them to a place far beyond the world they know to places they never thought existed.
Something about Jae Lee’s cover art for BATMAN/SUPERMAN Issue #1 didn’t do it for me. While I loved his flowing symmetry in BEFORE WATCHMEN: OZYMANDIAS last year, I didn’t quite believe his style would be a good match for the Dark Knight and Last Son of Krypton.
Because of this, I almost didn’t pick up the issue. After all, how many stories have we seen over the last few years featuring the World’s Finest? If the art didn’t do justice to these two icons how good could the writing really be, right?
But I decided to give it a chance and when I opened the issue and began to read it, I found myself pleasantly surprised by just how good it is.
In just the first few pages, writer Greg Pak (ASTONISHING X-MEN) absolutely NAILS the characters of Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent. I loved his contrast of these heroes through exploration of how their respective world views stem from their relationships with their fathers. I also enjoyed his examining how those views inform their methods and seeing these two debate amongst themselves in the form of a fight between some bullies and a young boy.
While these character aspects aren’t a revelation for fans of Batman or Superman, the manner in which Pak writes them feels very human, which is always necessary for us to invest in any super human (or super human-like, in the case of Batman) as they progress through their individual tales.
Jae Lee’s art only serves to enhance the story in a way I didn’t expect at all, and expresses the spirit of Pak’s writing in a kind of psychological fluidity that beautifully matches the narrative and pulls you into the world of these Batman and Superman. Their focus is the focus of the art, with no unnecessary distractions so that your consciousness almost becomes one with theirs as your eyes concentrate on only the things that truly matter.
The whole experience becomes a surreal dichotomy of two men so completely different and yet so much alike. A personal story grounded in the hearts and heads of these two characters. As such, the draw becomes not the fact that they’re featured in yet another story, but that the story they’re in explores them particularly well. For this reason alone, it’s well worth reading (and adding to your pull list).
The issue does hit a minor speed bump on page 19 as Jae Lee’s art transitions to that of Ben Oliver (BATWING). While the gimmick makes sense in the context of the story (a space/time jump), it felt rather jarring considering how well Greg Pak’s writing married with Jae Lee’s art.
Nevertheless, the art of Ben Oliver does a fine job carrying the rest of the issue, and the warm tones of Dan Brown (GHOST RIDER) and June Chung’s (BIRDS OF PREY) coloring perfectly complement the Smallville setting for these pages.
The excellent characterization of BATMAN/SUPERMAN #1 makes this comic worthy of your attention and the strength of it proves Greg Pak knows these beloved characters and can write them well. I’m looking forward to reading more of this soon.