Overview

Superman/Batman #26

Review

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Superman/Batman #26

Credits

  • Words: Sam Loeb (plot), Jeph Loeb, Joss Whedon, et al
  • Art: Tim Sale, Jim Lee, Joe Madureira, et al
  • Inks: Dexter Vines, Jesus Merino, Scott Williams, et al
  • Colors: Dave Stewart, Aspen, Alex Sinclair, et al
  • Story Title: The Boys are Back in Town! (main), Sam?s Story (backup)
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Price: $3.99
  • Release Date: Jun 1, 2006

An all-star cast of comic book creators join forces to produce an oft fun, sometimes heartbreaking tribute to the late Sam Loeb.

There has been a great deal of industry press over this special issue of Superman/Batman. Nearly a year ago, 17-year old Sam Loeb—son of Jeph—passed away following a courageous battle with cancer. At age 15, Sam had contributed a short story to Tales of the Vampires #5 published by Dark Horse, which was illustrated by Tim Sale. Showing the promise of following in his father’s footsteps, Sam plotted an adventure centering around Robin and Superboy teaming up to find the new Toyman at the request of Superman and Batman. Though he never got to see his story fully realized, Sam would likely have been proud of the final outcome of that story as scripted by twelve of the comic industry’s finest scribes with art contributed by over a dozen great artists.

The main story centers on Robin remembering his good friend Superboy at the dedication of a statue in Superboy’s honor. Aside from a somber first and last page (written by Jeph Loeb, drawn by Ed McGuinness) that are touching parallels to the loss of Sam, the main story is twenty pages of straightforward buddy action/comedy stuff with Superboy and Robin trading quips at one another’s expense in a big flashback sequence. The faux hot tub scene written by Joe Kelly and drawn by Art Adams is likely to be the most memorable scene in the flashback, though it is a real treat to see these characters handled so fluently from page to page by so many creators.

There may be no other comic ever produced that has Geoff Johns writing the same pages that Jim Lee (or Joe Madureira—he’s got both here!) draws. We may never again see the Astonishing X-Men team of Joss Whedon and John Cassaday in a DC book together. And honestly, who would have ever thought that Paul Levitz would come out from behind the desk to write a little, let alone have his pages rendered by Carlos Pacheco?

For all the greatness that is produced in the first 22 pages of this issue, the 6-page backup, Sam’s Story is perhaps the most heart-wrenching and thoughtful story I’ve read in some time. Created by the team that gave us the wonderful Superman for All Seasons, Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale revisit Smallville to tell the story of Clark Kent’s good high school friend, Sam, who was afflicted with cancer that spread from his leg to his jaw to his lungs. For Loeb, the story takes on an obviously personal meaning, but it shows the readers that there is only so much that a Superman or a father can do for those they love; as much as we wish them not to be, our powers are ultimately limited.

After recovering from the emotion wallop of the issue, I was finally able to come to this conclusion: this is a one-of-a-kind book that stands as one of 2006’s crowning achievements.

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