BATMAN/SUPERMAN #6
Author: Bobby Barrett
December 11, 2013

SYNOPSIS: Throughout the cosmos, one name commands respect and fear above all others. That name is MONGUL, and the world-conquering despot has his eyes set on Earth! And unless Batman and Superman can take down the mad, monstrous might of Mongul, the whole world will suffer.

This month, BATMAN/SUPERMAN continues its trend of taking the most far out sci-fi premise and running with it as far as they can. The faux-virtual reality video game network dealt out by the Toymaster in last month's issue #5 has proven to actually be a device from the alien warlord Mongul, who intends to use it as a tool for recruiting soldiers out of earthlings who have picked up tactical skills from playing war-themed video games. His plan is to build an army of humans controlling super-powered avatars and (presumably) conquer the universe.

Spores have simultaneously been scattered throughout the Earth, infiltrating its atmosphere and increasing the capacity for anger and aggression in its inhabitants--an influence even Superman finds himself susceptible to. The Man of Steel struggles to maintain self-control and get to the root of this situation while Batman's body has been commandeered by the VR hardware, giving thousands of citizens influence on The Dark Knight's thoughts and actions as more and more gamers are brought online.

This, of course, leads us toward the time honored tradition of seeing the "World's Finest Superheroes" duke it out. Not a horrible idea, but not original by any means (it's been done so many times, I wonder if anyone's ever thought about putting it in a movie…). Likely that battle will be the main focus of this this story's conclusion next month.

Honestly, this book is a mixed bag for me. A hardcore Batman fan first and foremost, I've always had love for Superman as well, and I'm definitely not against seeing the pair working together. However, when writers continue to view writing these characters together as an opportunity to just take Batman completely out of his element time and again, it does start to wear on me.

On the other hand, it's the genuine nature of the storytelling here that can't be denied. Greg Pak is fully invested in what he's doing, and that sincerity makes it easier to just try and go with it. In addition, artist Brett Booth is delivering some "A" material--this guy has quickly become one of the most talked-about pencilers in The New 52, and it's easy to see why when looking at this issue. Would love to see him find a more permanent home somewhere near the Gotham side of things (at the very least, a stint on the upcoming BATMAN: ETERNAL? It could happen…).

So, there you have it - one more issue to go for this arc, then on to yet another new artist and a crossover with WORLD'S FINEST. Not sure how I feel about that yet...but time will tell. - Bobby Barrett

GRADE: C

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