Today, Mikyzptlk and Shelby are discussing Batman/Superman 3, originally released August 28th, 2013.
Mikyzptlk: When I think upon my childhood friends that I am still friends with today, I sometimes wonder how our lives might have differed had we not become friends when we had. I also wonder what would have happened if we had not met until we were much older. I would be much different. They would be much different. Would we even have become friends at all? The third issue of Batman/Superman has me asking those questions as it explores how the World’s Finest heroes of Earth 2 became friends. Word of warning y’all, it’s totes adorbs.
We begin our recap on Earth-2, some years ago. An adolescent Clark Kent is practicing his batting skills with Pete Ross before Clark spots a broken down vehicle down the street. It turns out that the vehicle belongs to Alfred Pennyworth and Bruce Wayne. Clark, normally very shy, sees a sadness in young Bruce. He can’t help but ask the sullen lad out to play a quick game. Alfred and Jonathan spend the next few hours watching two lonely kids become fast friends. This history lesson is juxtaposed with the current, icy relationship of Batman-0 and Superman-0. As we cut back to the present, Kaiyo reveals that Darkseid is preparing to destroy Earth 0, 2, and probably any other Earth he can get his hands on. Their only hope is a newly discovered weapon originally designed to kill Superman-2. This leaves everyone with the following questions to ponder:
Please, allow me a few moments to geek out, because of I absolutely LOVED the flashback sequence with young Clark and Bruce. I loved that the two met when they were children, that they became best friends quickly, and that they both recognized each other’s loneliness and special attributes. The whole thing is just so darned quaint, which is a quality that I think should always be a part of the Earth-2 universe. I think that Greg Pak does an amazing job in recognizing that, at the same time though, he also gives us an origin that is funny, melancholy, and sweet. Yildiray Cinar lends his pencils to these scenes, and he nails it. His character models are a perfect fit for the quaintness that Pak is eliciting. Oh, and just look at the shadow that Bruce’s face is bathed in below.
While I loved, well, everything about the flashback sequence, this is one of the scenes that stood out to me the most. Bruce surprises Clark with a flip, but Clark immediately accepts Bruce’s unexpected skill and, by proxy, Bruce himself. The idea that Clark’s friendship was something that helped Bruce recover from the death of his parents helps to explain why Batman-2 and Superman-2 have such a strong relationship. It might also explain why our Batman and Superman have had a much more antagonistic first meeting. With their personalities already developed to the degree that it is, it’s much more difficult for them to see their similarities. It’s up to the grown-up versions of Batman and Superman to show them the path.
Now that we are three issues into this series, I’m still finding Pak’s interpretation of a Batman and Superman team-up book to be quite surprising. I certainly wasn’t expecting Batman and Superman’s first adventure to be so far-fetched, but then again, this is the DC Universe we are talking about, so an interdimensional adventure should probably be seen as a more commonplace kind of thing. Regardless of that, I find that I’m thoroughly enjoying exploring the relationship of Batman and Superman-0 through the lense of Batman and Superman-2’s relationship.
Of course, our heroes still have very little idea as to why their adult counterparts are such besties. While the audience is learning about the heroes of Earth-2, Batman and Superman-0 have still learned relatively little. The heroes of Earth-0 are going to have a bumpy road ahead unless they start learning how to get along. Of course, I’m assuming that their interactions with the heroes of Earth-2 will help them in that regard. Not to mention the threat of Darkseid. So Shelby, how has the Batman/Superman been treating you so far? Are you enjoying exploring their first adventure as much as I am?
Shelby: I am totally enjoying this first foray into Batman and Superman’s (Batmen and Supermen?) relationships. I love the way young Superman seems to be confusing “hard” with “strong.” Without Jonathan around, he more clearly sees the darkness of the world. Or, more specifically, he is less able to rise above that darkness. He also doesn’t understand that something both soft and strong is more likely to last longer than something hard and breakable. Hopefully the older Superman can teach him something more than the control needed repair cell damage.
As much as I love, love, love Jae Lee’s work (more on that in a second), I’m so happy Cinar subbed in for the flashback pencils. Lee’s work is beautiful and frosty and dark, and it would not have matched the tone of Clark and Bruce’s first meeting in the least. A lot of the sentiment would have been lost. In a small number of pages, Pak was able to easily depict in these boys the men they would become: Bruce using tactics to “defeat” a stronger foe, Clark being completely open and honest with Bruce. I love the relationship they instantly developed, and I also weirdly loved the idea that Jonathan Kent and Alfred Pennyworth maybe hang out every once in a while. The fact that there exists a universe where those two men are friends makes me exceptionally happy.
Speaking of exceptionally happy, let’s talk a little about Jae Lee. His characters are haughty and beautiful, his lines expressive and exquisite, his backgrounds dark and complex. Every time I do a write up, I read through the issue at least twice before I start writing. When Lee is on a title, before I do anything I just flip through the book and look at it. I squealed with excitement last issue when Wonder Woman made an appearance, and after this issue I…well, just see for yourself.
This arc concludes with issue 4, and it looks like Lee isn’t doing pencils for issue 5, which is hugely disappointing to me. Luckily, Pak is crafting an interesting enough world that I’ll stick around to see it grow even without Lee’s stunning art to accompany it.
For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page. Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore. If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to DC’s website and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?