Author: Chris Clow
Monday, October 30, 2006

So, the series has reached a milestone: BATMAN/SUPERMAN Annual #1. It was bound to happen sooner or later.

What’s my first reaction? It was a little strange, I’m not going to lie. But I still enjoyed it immensely.

I also have to admit, I’m not too familiar with the work of Joe Kelly. I know he’s currently on Supergirl, and he wrote the great piece with Space Ghost as the main character, and had a long run on Superman through Action Comics. But when I looked at his résumé, it was a little devoid of one necessary factor: The Dark Knight himself. So, I approached this issue with some hesitation.

When I read it, there were only a few moments that I actually said in my head “That’s a little out of character for Bruce Wayne or Batman.” So what exactly is Superman/Batman Annual #1?

Overall, it’s a comedy. Not a knock down, drag out comedy, but it was pretty amusing. What this issue does is explain how Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne found out each others’ identities and it’s done pretty good.

We start with Deathstroke being hired by somebody to kill Bruce Wayne. After a battle ensues in an unnamed city, Superman and Batman work together to bring down a couple of villains. A couple of lines are spent showing that both heroes are trying to find out who the other is. Clark and Lois are sent on a Cruise Ship to the Bermuda Triangle for a “puff piece.” Bruce Wayne is also going on the same ship because, well, he wants to keep Bruce’s playboy image vibrant in the mind of the public. Long story short, the guys have a strong dislike of each other from the beginning. And, to make matters worse, through an error on the ship’s computer, they were booked to the same cabin.

There’s the outlet. A strange rift opens up over the cruise ship, and they’re both trying to shoo each other out of the room. Clark wondering if he should lift the ship away from danger, Bruce calculating how many lifeboats and decks the ship has so he can take action. As they’re arguing, Deathstroke shoots a dart at Bruce Wayne, but misses and hits Clark’s neck. Over course, the dart crumples on Clark’s skin and falls to the ground. Through a realization, they both figure out who they’re talking to and suddenly, a man who looks like Deathstroke appears and says he’s going to save Bruce Wayne.

He jumps in front of the porthole window and takes a bunch of bullets in the chest. Here’s a part that was amusing, but I thought to be out of character for both of them. As the man in front of them is falling with bullets in his chest, Clark casually asks Bruce, “Your vacations always like this?” To which Bruce responds, “Pretty much.” Funny, but normally they would both be trying to help instead of just standing there exchanging a quip.

We then find that through the rift have come doppelgangers of Superman, Batman, and Lois Lane. They are Ultraman, Owlman, and Superwoman. All part of the Crime Syndicate. In an unusual sight, but one I laughed out loud about, the doppelganger of Deathstroke ripped his own arm off and started beating Superwoman with it. I love surreal humor, and that was good. Apparently, in the dimension the doppelgangers are from, good is bad, and bad is good.

Deathstroke’s other is trying to save Bruce Wayne, and in another funny moment, the real Deathstroke stabs “himself” in the brain. “You got katana in my medulla oblongata.” He says. “How rude.”

Later, Bruce changes into Batman and helps force the Doppelgangers out of our dimension, and Lois Lane is seriously questioning why Superman and Batman are there when Bruce and Clark are not. Suddenly, Clark’s voice calls at her and when she turns toward it, we see Bruce (in a robe and pink boxers) and Clark standing across from her.

Bruce runs to the rail outside the ship and starts vomiting, and later we learn that Clark used ventriloquism and changed Bruce into those clothes at about mach four. Pretty funny. In the end, we find all this madness was the result of the only villain who could pull it off: Mr. Mxyzptlk.

Who’s talking to what looks like a Bizarro of…Jeph Loeb?

Overall, I enjoyed it, but it got a little weird. You could tell that Joe Kelly is inexperienced when it comes to Batman, but it only really showed in a few places. I’ve always been a big fan of Ed McGuiness and Dexter Vines, so no qualms about the art. This is a good issue to pick up if you’re a collector of the series, but don’t feel like it’s an absolute must-have. It’ll be especially good if you find surreal humor funny. It’s no Aqua Teen or 12 oz. Mouse (which is a good thing since we’re talking about the World’s Finest), but it’s an enjoyable issue that’s worth a look someday.

Chris Clow is a student at Whatcom Community College where he is studying film, and is also an actor/writer for a pilot television series that has yet to be sold to a network. The first movie he ever saw in theaters was Tim Burton's original BATMAN, and he soon branched off into the Animated Series, and later the comics. He has written a critically acclaimed Batman fan script titled "Batman Interlude" which he hopes to create after receiving a film degree.

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