Superman/Batman #63: A Very Short Review

It’s difficult to write any long work, but serials are very difficult.  In comics or in novels, the author(s) must keep track of an increasingly long backstory.  Who were Luke’s parents?  Does Dumarest ever get back to Terra?  Which of the many Barrayaran chicks is going to drag Ivan to the altar?   How did Han Solo acquire the Millennium Falcon?  Keeping all the data and characters consistent is hard work.  I know of writers who keep an index of all characters, so that Joe, messily slain in vol. 1 as an ancillary casualty in a big battle scene, does not appear at a concert in vol. 4, alive and completely recovered from that fatal ray-gun blast.

S-B

When the effort to not step on your own tail becomes too much, the temptation is to just throw it all aside and take off into the wild blue yonder.  By and large novelists don’t do this overtly.  If they don’t start new novels in a new unvierse, they ditch the main story line and slide over to one side to riff on another planet, like Bujold in Falling Free.   In the comics, the creators have a number of standardized conventions when they want to run bare: What If, or Elseworlds, or Imaginary Stories.   These are consistently popular, to the point where DC ran an entire series of Elseworlds issues some years ago.

And then there is Superman/Batman.  Famed for over-the-top abbondanza  imaginative verve, the stories in S/B usually try to make some sense — for very loose definitions of sense.  Magic is frequently resorted to, or the meddling of time travelers.  This issue is the first one where they’ve had to resort to a full Bobby Ewing — it was all a dream, or in this case a computer simulation.  Annoying!

But throwing the entire backstory to the winds is always so attractive, one must forgive anything they do to get us there.  This issue is deliciously horrifying and challenging for Batman, the last free man left after Gorilla Grodd amps up his telepathy to the point where he can take over the entire human race. Gritty and grim art pairs up with this doomsday scenario nicely.  All the classic buttons are pushed, Batman fighting a hopeless battle until Superman can zoom in and save the day.

I believe this is a one-shot — where else could it go?  And so anyone with a tolerance for What Ifs or Elseworlds should enjoy this issue thoroughly.

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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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