Book Review – Batman/Superman vol. 2: Game Over

  • Title: Batman/Superman vol. 2: Game Over
  • Author: Greg Pak
  • Artists: Jae Lee, Brett Booth
  • Line: New 52
  • Characters: Batman (Bruce Wayne), Superman (Clark Kent), Wonder Woman, Hiro (Toyman aka Toymaster), Mongul, Warworld, Jochi, Supergirl, Steel (John Henry Irons), Red Hood (Jason Todd), Batgirl (Barbara Gordon), Power Girl (Earth-2, Karen/Kara), Huntress (Earth-2, Helena Wayne)
  • Publication Date: 2014
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 7/10/2016

Batman Superman Vol. 2 – Game Over is the second volume in the New 52 graphic novel collections of Batman/Superman stories. Though this series is not as good as the Superman/Batman graphic novel series from a few years ago, because: New 52, it’s still a pretty good series and one I plan on continuing to buy. This volume consists of two stories.

In the first story, Hiro, the new Toyman (or Toymaster) has come up with the “ultimate videogame”, having hired a woman to help with the computer programming. He brings in three game testers – but as they play the game, Hiro realizes it’s real and that Batman and Superman have been really dragged into the “game”. The entire story is presented in landscape format – meaning one has to turn the graphic novel to read it. I found this approach annoying. I could see that the horizontal layout was meant to mimic a widescreen video game – but with the graphic novel being bound, now on the top, even turning the pages was annoying. Nice idea but stick with vertical, OK?

The second story, which is linked to the first one has Mongul and Warworld showing up. Batman and Superman are able to defeat Mongul (perhaps a bit too easily) but then are dragged into a conflict with his son, Jochi. Batman and Superman must then each bring two allies in essentially a no-holds-barred cage fight to determine the new ruler of Warworld. Superman brings Supergirl and Steel (John Henry Irons) as his seconds, though Wonder Woman had offered – he told her to stay on Earth and defend it. Batman brings Jason Todd, aka Red Hood of the Outlaws, and Batgirl (Barbara Gordon who is no longer the paralyzed Oracle). During the fight, of course Superman and Batman are forced to fight each other. Batgirl messes with Warworld’s computers, Jochi is defeated, and when the entire planet is about to crash into the Arctic (which would be an extinction-level event – though no one notices this in the story) Superman transfers the entire planet into the Phantom Zone.

The third story has Kara (or Karen) – Power Girl and Huntress – daughter of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle from a parallel Earth show up on the New 52 Earth. Kara’s powers are out of control and Batman and Superman must help her. The encounter with alternate versions of the characters they know stirs Batman’s and Superman’s surppessed memories of travelling to an alternate Earth – and learning of the threat of Darkseid. This story had a bit more characterization, and was less of a slug-fest than the other two.

Similar to the classic Superman/Batman series – this series includes thought bubbles for both Superman and Batman, so the readers can see how these characters think. However, Batman is extremely distrustful of Superman. Bruce and Clark are not friends, and certainly not best friends, which is a pity. One of the best aspects of the classic series was seeing the friendship of Clark and Bruce. They had their own ways of doing things – but they were still friends. In this series, as in all of New 52 – no one trusts anybody, which is just a stone’s throw from everyone hating everyone else – and that’s a problem. If I wanted to read about distrustful, hateful, “superheroes” who don’t get along I’d read Marvel. This is DC. DC Heroes work together, they cooperate with each other, they trust each other, and they are friends. This doesn’t mean “they are singing kumbaya” or that the stories are unrealistic or not relevant. By showing how a diverse group can work together – the DC Heroes can inspire readers. This is a major problem with New 52 – and it’s why I’m so happy that Rebirth is bringing back the old, traditional approach to DC – making comics fun, and showing the reader a group of people working together for a common goal of bettering and protecting the planet.

Anyway, I do plan on buying the next volume of the Batman/Superman series. And this story had some unique story points to it. I like seeing Hiro as more of a hero – or at least someone that works with the heroes to supply their gadgets. I really enjoyed seeing Helena, Huntress, and Power Girl – a couple of favorites that were killed off when New 52 started. The trope of Batman and Superman commenting on each other gives the reader new insight into these well-known characters. Also, the art is fantastic – and I liked the mirroring between Batman and Superman a lot. But the New 52 “attitude” is really, really annoying.

Book Review – Doctor Who: Heroes and Monsters Collection

  • Title: Heroes and Monsters Collection
  • Series: BBC Books – Special Themed Short Story Collection
  • Author: Various
  • Characters: War Doctor, Ninth Doctor, Tenth Doctor, Eleventh Doctor, Twelfth Doctor, with companions
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 01/07/2017

Doctor Who Heroes and Monsters is a collection of short stories featuring the Doctors from New Who. There’s a single War Doctor story, several stories each with the Ninth Doctor, Tenth Doctor, Eleventh Doctor, and Twelfth Doctor. There’s a pair of stories taking place at the same time and place – one of which is from Amy’s point of view on her solitary adventure and one from Rory’s on his only solitary adventure.

The problem is that though some of the stories are good – many are only so-so; and, nearly all of them read like they were written for children – not even young adults, but children. And it’s the type of children’s literature that, unfortunately, looks down on the child’s abilities to read, comprehend, and follow a good story – so the stories are overly simplistic instead.

The Amy-Rory pair of stories is one of the better sets. The Doctor lands the TARDIS on a giant shopping mall planet. Amy goes off on her own, and through kindness to a young boy, stops an invasion. However, the young boy is in his position due to a strange man, whom we suspect to be Rory. The next story in the collection shows us events from Rory’s point of view. I enjoyed that device for the pair of stories, however, it is a fairly simple story nonetheless.

The last story in the collection is a solo Twelfth Doctor story, which, while fun, and a bit less child-oriented, still has a predictable bent to it.

Overall, I was disappointed. Yes, it’s a quick read, but I’d rather have a bit more depth to my Doctor Who tie-in stories.