Written by Michael Green and Mike Johnson
Art by Rafael Albuquerque
Color by David Baron
Lettering by Rob Leigh
Published by DC Comics
Review by David Pepose
One of my favorite tropes in comic books has to be the dystopic future. I remember one of the very first comics I read that really stuck with me -- an old Elseworlds annual of Superman: The Man of Steel from 1994 -- where a grizzled old Batman wages guerilla warfare against an entrenched Kryptonian empire. With these sorts of stories, anything can happen -- and the desperation and tension leads our heroes to take some wildly unexpected measures.
Well, I have to say that Superman/Batman #63 takes that tradition and runs with it, giving a really sharp done-in-one romp through Grodd-occupied Earth. Writers Michael Green and Mike Johnson play off each other really well, as they depict Batman as the lone warrior fighting a world of brainwashed troops. "Grodd hears these blasphemous thoughts," he says to himself. "He hears everything. And he punishes the unbelievers." Batman's iron will is his own superpower here, as Green and Johnson give an explanation of exactly how he can hide against a telepathic superbeing.
But the action is the real draw of this book, and Green, Johnson, and artist Rafael Albuquerque are really firing on all cylinders with this book. Albuquerque gives a sort of jagged look to the familiar Bat-silhouette that has a great energy to it -- Bruce Wayne may be tattered, but he is far from broken. Sequences like Batman escaping in his tank-like Batpod are also really fun to look at -- you can really feel the speed and the fury of Gorilla Grodd's troops in action. While the character comes a little late in the story, his Superman is also particularly solid, with two really iconic-looking shots of the Man of Steel.
That said, there are a few things that could have been tweaked. Perhaps the biggest handicap of this book is the fact that Green and Johnson had to pack it all in into 23 pages -- this is a story that could definitely have made one fantastic annual, but within these constraints, a couple of sequences feel a little cramped. Furthermore, part of me wishes that Green and Johnson could have gone further with how this war has affected Batman and Superman -- but then again, this could be my nostalgia talking. The one thing that might irk some readers is the last page of the issue, which feels like a fairly forced framing sequence. Of course, the 22 preceding pages make it only a brief aftertaste in an otherwise strong book.
Now, is this out-of-continuity book really going to shake up the foundations of the DC universe? Absolutely not. But is it one of the most fun issues of either character I've read in a while? You better believe it. With some kinetic art and a fast-moving plot, Superman/Batman #63 spins a story about a dark world that is 110% entertainment.