Overview

Superman/Batman #18

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Superman/Batman #18

Credits

  • Words: Jeph Loeb
  • Art: Carlos Pacheco
  • Inks: Jesus Merino
  • Colors: Laura Martin
  • Story Title: ?Absolute Power? conclusion ? ?Thy Will Be Done??
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Price: $2.95
  • Release Date: Apr 6, 2005

Someone please correct me if I’m wrong, but I think Jeph Loeb just un-did Kingdom Come.

So this is the conclusion of the "Absolute Power" arc, in which (and try to say this out loud without sounding like a total doofus) the evil twins/alternate reality evil versions of the ADULT Legion of Superheroes have traveled back in time to erase the origins of Batman and Superman and raise Bruce and Clark to become evil fascist versions of themselves, only to be foiled by Clark who uses a boom-tube (negotiated from Darkseid after pressure from his elderly Kingdom Come era future self) to do MORE time-traveling to save Batman, in the process arriving in an alternate reality where Ra’s al Ghul killed the Justice League and made the Statue of Liberty into the Statue of Ra’s.

As you can see, the ride has been breakneck and filled with many twists and turns. Carlos Pacheco and Laura Martin continue to dazzle, creating page after page of beautiful artwork. The battles, the majesty of superheroes in all their glory, the drama of good vs. evil-- all of this is brilliantly executed. Since issue one this book has had top-notch artwork, and the tradition is going strong here. If the very idea of Batman and Superman fighting alongside each other and interacting with a host of other DC favorites is enough to satisfy you on images alone, then this is your book and this arc in particular ought to please you.

But let’s talk about those pesky words that accompany the images. Jeph Loeb’s affinity for pre-Crisis Superman, and even pre-Crisis comics continuity in general, has made itself manifest in the past. Watch the occasional episodes of Smallville Loeb has written. Read just about any of his recent comics writing, especially this title. By and large this fascination with comics of yesteryear is present, but harmless, confining itself to alternate timelines and the like. This in and of itself isn’t so objectionable. But the throwbacks and the assumed knowledge on the part of the reader have been getting excessive on this title.

It’s getting to the point that DC is going to need to publish an annotated version of Superman/Batman in order for its younger readers (who make up a majority of the title’s fan base) to be able to understand just who the heck these people are or what the heck everyone is talking about. Some of this stuff is even in the fuzzy parts of the memories of hardcore comics readers. The Adult Legion’s evil counterparts, for example, haven’t been around since the mid-seventies. This is not good storytelling, especially when there is zero effort made to bring anyone who doesn’t have an alphabetized comic book collection dating pre-1985 up to speed.

The coup de grace, however, is what appears to be the ultimate aim of the entire "Absolute Power" arc. This is giving nothing away, I assure you, but this issue seems to make it abundantly clear that the events of Kingdom Come have just been replaced in the current continuity by, of all things, Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?.

Kingdom Come is a what-might-happen story that predicts the possible end of the current continuity, including the fates of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman in particular. It is a semi-bleak story wherein Lois Lane was murdered long ago and Supes and Diana eventually end up having a kid. Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? is a classic Alan Moore story from the Silver Age that also deals with the ultimate fate of Superman, this version including a happy-ever-after with Lois.

As I said at the beginning, someone correct me if I’m wrong about it, but it does seem to be the case that Kingdom Come, kind of an important morality play for all of DC continuity, has been replaced by Jeph Loeb’s desire to create a happy-ever-after for Superman. What?!! Write your Congressman, people.

DC writers in general have been going all wacky lately, in part I suspect, because they know another Crisis is coming, allowing them to undo whatever nonsense they create for the next year. This is bad juju. The next time Supes and Bats get themselves a boom-tube, here’s hoping they use it to prevent reckless DC writers, not Ra’s al Ghul, from wrecking their own timelines.

-Jesse Vigil

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