Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Batman/Superman: Siege (comics)

Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Ardian Syaf
Collects: Batman/Superman #16-20, Batman/Superman Annual #2, Batman/Superman: Futures End #1

So, now we're at volume four of Batman/Superman. Sadly, we lost Jae Lee along the way. The big Earth Two plotline that dipped in and out of the first three volumes has been scuttled off stage as well, without anything that really feels like a resolution. For better or worse, Siege is something different, holding us over in the time between the prior mission statement and the point where the book has to reflect radical status quo changes for the title characters, born from their solo titles.

Thankfully, it's pretty good. I'd go so far as to argue that it holds together better than anything since Cross World. It's amazing what having one artist draw an entire story or arc can do for you. The past couple of volumes felt patchwork at best, given that it swapped artists like you might change your underwear, sometimes in the middle of an issue. Ardian Syaf brings a stability to the visuals, one that was sorely needed. He has all of the same strengths he did in the third volume of Superman: Earth One, including the expressiveness of the characters.

The story itself is fine. I admit I cringed when I read the synopsis of Superman ending up with his own "Joker". I'm not sure what I expected, but in my head, I envisioned some bad attempt at conjuring an on the nose, Joker style character for Superman to be his new arch nemesis, even if the idea they'd try that seems almost silly. What it ends up referring to is the methodology; a sociopath who is simply out to hurt anyone connected to the hero, just because they can, possibly due to a strange fixation. That's fine, even if the idea of this character being Supermans Joker is directly expressed in dialogue a little too often to illicit anything more than an eyeroll.

Regardless, the danger is real, as this villain hits Superman where it hurts, several times, using what we learn is something directly connected to the Superman corner of the DCU to do it. Despite being heavily tied to the Superman half of the equation, Greg Pak does a fine job of keeping Batman in the mix, rather than letting him fade to the background a bit too much. In fact, at one point late in the volume, Superman impulsively activates his Solar Flare, leaving him powerless for twenty four hours just as a cadre of villains come looking to kill him. Batman has to keep Clark alive from that point on.

Also included is a Futures End tie-in issue. I'll admit I'm interested in the weekly and kind of looking forward to reading it. I also like the idea of an extra issue exploring the alternate world presented to us, much like DC One Million did in the late 90's. Unfortunately, this one is a bit of a wash. It's really just a Batman centric issue, with him dealing with a Superman villain and lamenting the breakdown of their friendship at some point in the history of this alternate future. The issue was kind of left between a rock and a hard place - from what I do know of Futures End, Superman is missing for the first half of it, possibly in a Kingdom Come-esque self exile - but it's still unfortunate. I don't feel like I really got anything out of it, aside from knowing why the Futures End Batmans back is quite possibly wrecked for good.

There's not a lot to say about Siege, otherwise. It's fine meat and potatoes team-up comics. I'd say it's an improvement over the past couple of volumes as well. It's unconnected to anything else, so you could just pick it up and read it if you felt like it. Siege is worth a shot if you're in the mood or don't have anything else to read, I'd say.

My Opinion: Try It


  1. I've seen the cover for Vol. 5, which appears to feature the Jim Gordon Batman mech from Snyder's run...making Vol. 4 the last book in this series that can stand fairly on its own, by the looks of it. Too bad.

    Do you know if the pre-New 52 Batman/Superman series (the one originally written by Jeph Loeb, I mean) petered out similarly, by grasping at the coattails of more "important" creative runs in the characters' main series?

  2. Superman/Batman went out in a better way. That series was doing things like DC One Million stories, alternate future with sorcery stuff, all kinda of crazy stories. Honestly, while there's another two volumes left of Batman/Superman, I feel pretty safe in saying Superman/Batman was a superior book. The quality was more consistent over the books life; more good work than bad, I'd say.

    Yeah, volume five rushes headlong into the Truth and Superheavy eras of the title characters. I'm not really against that, because that's interesting; radically different status quo, with Superman having to deal with a new Batman. I'm going to read it at some point. But obviously going from Bruce to Jim Gordon is a hell of a change. We'll see how its addressed in story. If they're just kind of like, "something happened to Bruce, so Jim Gordon is doing this now", that's fine, it could probably still stand alone. It's an explanation. I mean, I don't find stuff like that too hard to grasp; believe it or not, my first Batman comic was #500, when Jean Paul Valley took over. I picked up on things pretty quick.