Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Batman/Superman: Second Chances (comics)

Writer: Greg Pak, Jeff Lemire
Artists: Diogenes Neves, Karl Kerschl, Jae Lee, Marc Deering, Cliff Richards and like ten others
Collects: Batman/Superman #10-15

Don't let that Jae Lee cover and top artist billing on it fool you, his work is barely in this trade.

At this point I feel like this book is starting to fall apart on a bunch of different levels and none of them are the fault of any one person. It started out strong, with a punchy, well written and dynamically drawn opening arc involving the first meeting of the titular heroes and an encounter with their Earth 2 counterparts, but since then the regular artist has not exactly been what you'd consider a regular, the art has suffered and it's beginning to bring down what are otherwise fine comics.

On the upside, we've finally returned to the stuff the book began with, mainly that initial Earth 2 encounter, Kaiyo the Chaosbringer and the suppressed memories of the entire thing. Aside from some lip service during the First Contact arc of the prior volume, it's been mostly absent for about five issues - plus two of Worlds Finest - and an annual. Kaiyo's back and screwing with the duo, giving them a chance to change the events of Earth 2, then afterwards stripping them of their memories and tossing them in the world to figure it out from there, for kicks.

It's too bad it doesn't really go anywhere, doesn't wrap up and isn't likely to be continued. I don't know if it's because DC just gave up on Jae Lee penciling for the series, but the series takes a hard left into different territory from here on. The next arc is, from what I've read online, entirely about Superman ending up with his own "Joker". By the time that's done, the Jim Gordan and Truth eras of Batman and Superman, respectively, are in full swing, meaning this book has to fall right in line. Aside from the fact that the two remember the first arc now, nothing is really accomplished. It might have been better if the book never called back to it and left it at that.

There's also a fill-in issue where Superman teams up with the Atom to save Batman from something inside his brain. It's a pretty decent one off adventure and I've always enjoyed Jeff Lemires writing, but there isn't a lot to say about it.

Anyway, the issues with the story are kind of outside of its control, due to real world circumstances and pertaining more to the future of the book, so it's a bit easier to give it a pass. After all, the book is otherwise a fun enough read. Unfortunately, we get to the real problem, which is the art.

As mentioned before, Jae Lee is done after this. It was inevitable, really, and I suspected as much back when I reviewed the first volume. It's not exactly ideal, but something had to be done, because the art situation is completely out of control. I only listed five artists up top, but that's only because I didn't want that to run on much further than it did. No joke, we literally have twelve to fourteen pencillers contributing pages across six issues. Every issue but one - Jae Lees - has at least two artists. The issue closing out the volume has four.

Diogenes Neves does a passable Jae Lee impression - and if I'm being honest, I'm down to see more of their work elsewhere - but no one else comes close. Worse still, there isn't even any consistency in the issues themselves, for obvious reasons. A lot of them do their best chameleon job - and none of the transitions are as jarring as the annual in the prior volume - but if you look you can see the seams.

We'll see what the next volume brings, but as it is, there's not much reason to read this.

My Opinion: Skip It


  1. I still remember DC trumpeting Batman/Superman as almost a prestige book for Jae Lee. What a shame it became this weird Frankenstein's Monster of a series so quickly.

    The Jeff Lemire story you mentioned sounds like one in Mark Waid's Daredevil where Ant-Man fought microscopic robots inside DD's brain. Have you read that issue? (I think it was in DD by Mark Waid Vol. 3 or Vol. 4.) The robots were impeding DD's powers and had made him comatose or something. Anyway, interesting that such similarly premised comics would be published in such close proximity to one another.

  2. Yeah, it just kind of fell off a cliff. Who knows what the circumstances are, but DC clearly felt they had to keep the book on some kind of schedule after the first arc took forever and a day to wrap. The problem is, Jae Lee couldn't keep up and the series just sort of shambled onward. Frankly, they should have just Superman/Batman'd it and not worried so much about what else was going on, let the book do what it was doing and give Jae Lee the time he needed. But who knows, maybe the long gaps were really hurting sales.

    I haven't read that issue, no. I haven't read any of Mark Waids Daredevil in a while. Not because I don't like it, of course. I just haven't come across the second hardcover in the library.