The Batman/Superman friendship shines in Action Comics 992

by Mark Mitchell

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

One of the many miscalculations of 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was predicating the success of the entire film on the idea that it’s cool to see Batman and Superman fight. To climax an entire movie with the Dark Knight and the Kryptonian beating the crap out of each other shows a fundamental misunderstanding of why people enjoy these characters. What we like is Batman and Superman being best friends. Together, they’re the Sour Patch Kids of DC’s trinity; a little sour, but also sweet.

In the comics, taking that dynamic, with its years of history and built-up trust, and translating it into text on the page in a believable way is a difficult task, but in Action Comics 992, writer Rob Williams (working from a story by Dan Jurgens) pretty well nails it.

Superman is still reeling from the revelation that his father, Jor-El, is Mr. Oz. (Or, at least, is Mr. Oz right now — there’s wonky time manifesting itself in the DC universe right now, which certainly gives future storytellers an out when it’s no longer prudent for Jor-El to be a villain.) Batman shows up at the Fortress of Solitude to check in on his friend, and even though his visit only comprises a few short pages in the issue, it’s the strongest bit by far. There’s a genuine sincerity to Batman’s concern for his friend, and a grounded reality in the way they communicate with each other; even though they’re discussing villainous fathers and time-meddling the conversation feels true-to-life — relatable, even, and relatability is an underrated value in DC works.

It’s also remarkable how truncated and rote Superman’s conversation with Lois a little later in the issue feels by comparison. Lois more often than not merely checks the box of faithful, wise, and long-suffering wife, and she’s not given anything more meaty here. So look, I’m not saying that Batman and Superman should be together — Superman knows he can’t “fix” Batman, and he doesn’t need that kind of dour toxicity in his life 24/7 — but I’m also not saying that it’s an Elseworlds story I’m uninterested in reading.

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 Comixology and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?

One comment on “The Batman/Superman friendship shines in Action Comics 992

  1. I think it is very inaccurate to say that the problem with Batman v Superman is the fact that they fight. That the movie would be stronger if they are friends.

    Batman fighting Superman is a great story idea because they are two likeable characters, and the idea of two likeable characters in conflict with each other is the essence of drama. For proof, Civil War is the perfect comparison. Unlike Batman v Superman, whose climax was the two characters making up, becoming allies and teaming up to fight Doomsday, Civil War’s actual climax had Captain America and Iron Man beat the crap out of each other. There was no forgiveness, just a friendship broken by irreconcilable differences. We may enjoy those characters as best friends, but what made Civil War’s climax work was the uncompromising way it had the characters punch each other.

    Which is to say, Batman v Superman’s problem isn’t that the two characters fought each other instead of being friends. It is that the movie had two terribly written leads that weren’t likeable and were impossible to invest in. If we were actually invested in both of their characters, the fight seen would have been truly spectacular and the movie would have been a success

    And, because it is still true, after issue 990, this book no longer deserves coverage, positive or negative.

    The only thing worth saying about it is that it is an injustice that this creative team is still writing, let alone being possible consideration for Action Comics 1000

    There is nothing else worth saying

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