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Superman/Batman #43

Posted: Saturday, December 1, 2007
By: Ray Tate



"Darklight"

Writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Artists: Mike McKone (p), Lanning, Jonathan Gladion, Rececca Buchman (i), Jason Wright (colors)

Publisher: DC Comics


I'm not a huge Abnett and Lanning fan. Their Doctor Who comic strip work was okay, but I wasn’t too thrilled with their dark Legion or Nova. Their touch on this issue of Batman and Superman however earns my highest regard. I am a Mike McKone aficionado. His artwork, far too rarely seen, sealed the deal of whether or not I would bring Batman and Superman home. This is a perfect comic book.

The latest reason for the team up of the World’s Finest, and it’s nice to have one, is to better humankind. Bruce Wayne wishes to develop dark matter into a pollution-free energy source. He needs Kryptonian tech to do the job correctly. The core to the plot is wonderfully elegant as is the characterization. Abnett and Lanning characterize Bruce Wayne as sober businessman who uses his wealth for humanitarian causes and comprehends the importance of scientific advancements. To quote Homer J.: "Batman's a scientist."

Dr. Light crashes the party and uses Teen Titan doppelgangers as his weapons. Abnett's and Lanning's Dr. Light is a loser with a fin on his head. They brilliantly make the team on the Wayne Tech/STAR satellite all male and therefore eliminate the potential need of reminding the reader of Meltzer’s crappy new and “improved” persona for the character. They simply reduce the plot to Dr. Light vs. the World’s Finest and as a result make the book actually kid-friendly, however old that kid may be.

Superman is on board the orbiter due to a clever use of classic World’s Finest trickery. He makes short work of Light’s holographic weapons, and it’s refreshing to see Superman act so rationally and efficiently. McKone’s one of the few artists that can actually give the big guy an intelligent look to the face. He in addition builds Superman without making him appear muscularly deformed. The realism in his art helps Superman reach his visual potential throughout the panels.

“The Teen Titans” look as they did years ago, but Light miscalculates. Superman never had a super-powered sidekick in the Titans. As a result, the psychological advantage Light aimed for against the League doesn’t faze Superman at all. Superman confidently shuts down the Titan effigies and adds with panache:

“The real Titans would be very embarrassed by you!”

While this space battle occurs, Light’s next steps unfurl. McKone makes Light look beautifully evil but without abandoning his old school charm. You can almost forget about Meltzer’s degradation.

Light’s scheme makes sense. It profiles him as an opportunistic villain with no small modicum of brainpower. What he cannot predict is Batman. McKone's Batman is a sight to behold, and the multiple inkers mesh well. So they take none of the intent from McKone's pencils. Batman with longer, sharper ears swoops out of the dark, scares the snot out of Light and acrobatically avoids Light's attacks. He reaches into his belt for some kibosh and delivers a coup-de-grace that's simply genius.

Abnett, Lanning and McKone do in one issue what most hacks can't do in six issues. They skillfully display all of Batman's and Superman's facets. The epilogue indicates that this issue was meant to be the precursor to Dwayne McDuffie's and McKone's Justice League Wedding Special. For once, the publishing hiccup doesn't affect the story one whit. The story feels complete, and if you have read the League book, you know that Light's in for more punishment.



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