SupermanBatman #59: A Very Short Review

Well, it is disappointing, but in a mildly educational way.  Let’s analyze this latest arc of Superman/Batman.

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In #57, we had the promising set-up, in which Superman is shrunk down to nano size.  Batman undertakes to rescue him, adding to the urgency by noting that time passes much more quickly among the extremely small and if something is not done fast Superman will die of old age.  (I surmise that this is a comic book factoid he picked up from the Atom; I sure don’t remember reading anything about it in SciAm or the NYT.)   In #58 it is revealed that the nanoverse is populated by warring factions which conveniently break out into bad guys and good ones; the bad guys tinker with Superman’s metabolism which, again very conveniently, turns him against Batman.  In this issue #58 Batman rapidly cures Superman and they defeat the bad guys and are canonized by the good after their departure for the larger universe.

What is lacking?  The almost Dickensenian role of coincidence has to be ignored as a standard feature of comic books.  But even aside from this, there are major flaws in the plot.   Since the time dilation effect is not noticeable once you are microscopic, it passes right off the radar.  Batman neither worries about it, nor tells Superman about it so he can worry — so there is no cost to the characters.   And since there really is no doubt that the two will prevail in the nanoverse, there is no suspense.   These two factors are essential to any story — if there is no cost then nobody cares; we might as well be reading about the selection of dental floss flavors.

What this story needed was at least one hairpin plot turn, to increase suspense, and for the time dilation card to be played properly, to make the cost clear.  And, to make the leap into greatness, it needs a twist at the end.  What is so annoying about it is that I can see how it should be done.   It would be an interesting exercise to rewrite this, properly.  Had we but world enough, and time!   Unfortunately nobody is likely to shrink me down into a nanoverse so that I can get a lifetime into one day.

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About Brenda Clough

Brenda W. Clough spent much of her childhood overseas, courtesy of the U.S. government. Her first fantasy novel, The Crystal Crown, was published by DAW in 1984. She has also written The Dragon of Mishbil (1985), The Realm Beneath (1986), and The Name of the Sun (1988). Her children’s novel, An Impossumble Summer (1992), is set in her own house in Virginia, where she lives in a cottage at the edge of a forest. Her novel How Like a God, available from BVC, was published by Tor Books in 1997, and a sequel, Doors of Death and Life, was published in May 2000. Her latest novels from Book View Cafe include Revise the World (2009) and Speak to Our Desires. Her novel A Most Dangerous Woman is being serialized by Serial Box. Her novel The River Twice is newly available from BVC.

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SupermanBatman #59: A Very Short Review — 2 Comments

  1. I remember reading similar effects to shrinking in a book I read as a child. Can’t recall the name, but it was about the parents shrinking and the kids taking care of them.

    I liked the fact, that there was more motivation other than that people should not be shrunk, and it gave the book more substance than it would have otherwise had. Shame that these comics seem to have only touched upon story.

  2. Oh, the shrinking thing has been popular for decades. Consider FANTASTIC VOYAGE, book and movie. Adding the prefix ‘nano’ is the only thing different.