Book Review – Batman Beyond: Batgirl Beyond

  • Title: Batman Beyond: Batgirl Beyond
  • Author: Adam Beechen
  • Artist: Adam Archer
  • Characters: Batman (Terry McGinnis), Bruce Wayne, Barbara Gordon, Dana Tan, Max(ine), Dick Grayson, Ace the Batdog 
  • Publication Date: 2014
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 7/14/2016

**Spoiler Alert** Batman Beyond was an excellent animated television series produced by Bruce Timm and Paul Dini, with voice direction by Andrea Romano. Bruce Wayne has, amazingly, lived to a ripe old age, so much so that he has to give up the cape and cowl due to his physical limitations. But Terry McGinnis ends up as the New Batman in a tech savvy suit – saving Neo Gotham from a new breed of super villains. Although Terry’s father was murdered (by Amanda Waller it later turns out), Terry’s mother and younger brother survive. Terry is also dating Dana Tan, and his best friend Max(ine) is a computer expert who knows Terry is Batman. And Bruce has a dog, Ace.

This is the second Batman Beyond graphic novel I’ve read (the other being Batman Beyond: Hush Beyond) and I really enjoyed this book. I thought that in Batman Beyond: Batgirl Beyond the characterization was excellent. We see the familiar characters from the TV series, even the Bat-dog Ace makes an appearance, and they are all in character. The world of Neo Gotham also seems very familiar and true to the animated series. Even little details that were confusing, such as Barbara Gordon not only being the police commissioner but being able to walk are explained. Dick Grayson, a character completely ignored in the series and the follow-up movie, makes an appearance that begins to explain what happened to him.

The story starts with the aftermath of a disaster, the street gang the Jokerz are blowing themselves up all over Neo Gotham – causing chaos, destruction, and death. But rather than focusing on this disaster – the story starts in a hospital waiting room. Present are Dana Tan, her mother, Terry, and his mother. Dana’s father is in intensive care, Dana’s brother is also in emergency and dying and the one behind the Jokerz bombings, Bruce Wayne is also in the hospital, dying of liver failure. A doctor tells those gathered that Dana’s brother has died. Dana asks Terry to come with her to see Bruce Wayne, as they make there way there, Terry makes up a story about being saved by Batman but being knocked out (he’s beaten-up and has a concussion).

When they see Bruce however, Dana tells them both she’s realized that Terry is the new Batman, and that Bruce was once Batman. Bruce welcomes her to the family and stresses the need for secrecy. Terry tells Dana he loves her. A doctor comes in and tells Bruce they’ve found a compatible liver for him – Bruce realizes it was Dana’s brother’s liver, but allows the transplant to take place.

Meanwhile, Max has gone on a mission on her own to investigate the Undercloud, a secretive hacker group, lead by Rebel. She’s forced to work with some old superhero tech to create a giant robot to destroy the upper levels of Neo Gotham that are home to the rich and powerful. Max struggles to find a way to send a message to Terry secretly.

Max finally sends an SOS, and Terry arrives but not before the robot is released on Neo Gotham. Yet Rebel’s control box doesn’t work. Terry tries to lead the robot away and minimize damage. Max knocks out Rebel and tries to decode the box. Terry shocks the robot as a defense mechanism – and the different metals start to pull apart. Max realizes that the six metals need to be separated and urges Terry to “do it again”. He does – and what emerges is the Metal Men.

Terry and the Metal Men work to prevent further damage in Gotham and to safely bring down Reed Tower in a more controlled fashion, as well as evacuating the restoration crews inside. Max angerly condemns Rebel’s selfish “point” of mass destruction – telling her she could have made her hacker army a force for good.

With the success of Terry and the Metal Men, and Max getting rescued and Rebel turned over to the police – everyone meets up at Wayne Manor. Bruce mentions the hundreds of space junk satellites in Earth orbit, and suggests that the Metal Men take up residence in one as Watchmen for Earth, to respond to any disaster, natural or man-made, immediately and world-wide. He adds Max and Dana to his bat-family (Max already knew about Terry) and Max comes up with the idea to secretly focus the Undercloud into a force for change and for good (moving it away from the destructive model that Rebel had set-up). Finally, Bruce tells Terry he has to decide if he wants to continue to be Batman (Terry has doubts) but that he will support him no matter what.

Commissioner Barbara Gordon, meanwhile, walks through Crown Point – a less than good neighborhood in Neo Gotham that’s in the middle of a gang war. She’s able to take care of herself, but when the odds are overwhelming she’s rescued by a new Batgirl. This Batgirl tells her the violence isn’t just a co-incidence – there’s literally something in the water. Gordon goes to the ME’s office and is told one of the dead from Crown Point is soaked in chemicals and has very low serotonin levels. Gordon remembers Bane. She also takes her officers and a search warrant and goes after a businessman for his “super steroid”. The businessman attacks in a rage. Gordon’s cops arrest him. Barbara looks up Batgirl and offers her a type of partnership – but insists Batgirl not go to far. At first, Batgirl thinks she can ignore this – but she learns she can’t.

In a story drawn to look very much like the animation style of the Batman Beyond and featuring Ace, Terry’s mom, and Terry’s brother – Bruce and Terry go up against Spellbinder, who puts Bruce in a hallucination using television signals.

Finally, Terry goes up again Inque – a unique character also from the series.

I loved this book – again, it’s very in keeping with the television series and everyone is in character. The only negative comment I have is that for a book entitled, “Batgirl Beyond” – there really wasn’t much of Batgirl. And we didn’t see the new Batgirl meet Terry, or Bruce or anyone in the cast. I liked seeing Commissioner Barbara Gordon being given her own story, and watching Batgirl meet a new Batgirl was fun, but considering the volume title it needed more “oomph”. Maybe other volumes will include more of this new Batgirl.

Highly recommended.

Book Review – Infinite Crisis

  • Title: Infinite Crisis
  • Author: Geoff Johns
  • Artist: Phil Jimenez, George Pérez, Jerry Ordway, Ivan Reis, Andy Lanning
  • Characters: Batman, Superman, Lois Lane, Superboy, Alexander Luthor, Dick Grayson, Power Girl (Kara), Blue Beetle (Ted Kord), Wonder Woman, Justice League, et. al.
  • Publication Date: 2006
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 8/31/2016

Infinite Crisis is a sequel to Crisis on Infinite Earths, however it doesn’t bring back the Monitor or the Anti-Monitor. Rather, remember the characters who were stranded in nowhere? Superman from Earth-2, Lois Lane, Alexander Luthor, and Superboy? They return to cause havoc. It seems Superman (2) and company could watch what is happening on Earth-1 and they do not like it one bit. Having seen the darkness in our heroes – Superman (2) gets a bright idea – he will bring back Earth-2 instead, because Earth-2 is the better Earth. Superman (2) is also motivated by the fact that Lois is dying (of old age). Alexander Luthor encourages Superman in this plan – though he also shows his true colors, as it plays out – Luthor doesn’t care about Lois (he knows she’s doomed to die) or Earth-2, he wants to bring back all the Earths until he finds the perfect Earth. Meanwhile Superboy is pure nuts. His violence disillusions everyone.

The first thing the alternate characters do is bring in Kara, Power Girl, a version of Supergirl that no longer has a home planet, because she’s from Earth-2 but survived on Earth-1 at the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths. Kara although initially under the sway of Superman (2) and Lois – eventually comes around.

Superman (2) visits the Earth-1 Batman and tries to convince him that bringing back Earth-2 is best for everyone. Yet, when he learns that Dick Grayson no longer exists on Earth (2), Batman refuses. He even tries to bring down Superman with his Kryptonite ring, but the ring has no effect on the Earth-2 Superman. Later, in one of the best vignettes in the story, when the Brotherhood of Evil uses Chemo to attack Blüdhaven – destroying the town with toxic waste, Batman rushes to find Nightwing. Nightwing wasn’t in the city, fortunately, but he stands on the outskirts ready to rush in to help. Batman prevents Dick from going in, brings him to the Cave where he fills him in on everything: Superman (2)’s plan, Brother Eye, OMAC, how Batman’s own surveillance plan went horribly awry – Grayson is impressed at Bruce’s openness. Bruce then gives Nightwing a mission, something to keep him occupied. As Dick Grayson heads out to Titans Tower – Bruce asks, “Those early years – were they good for you?” Nightwing answers, “the best”. It’s a wonderful moment, tightly written, not overly sentimental – yet it shows how much Bruce cares for Dick. Probably the best page in the book.

In general, though, Infinite Crisis is a big, showy book, that again features most of the DC characters. There are many full-page or double-page spreads filled with heroes and even villains. But the plot, not including the miscellaneous side plots, is simple – those left behind from Crisis on Infinite Earths want to return to the status quo. If Earth-1 is destroyed in the process, they don’t care – the old way is best. For our heroes on Earth-1, many have been in a crisis of conscience. After Maxwell Lord betrays the Justice League and kills Ted Kord (Blue Beetle), Wonder Woman executes Max. This shakes up the League and leads to distrust of the League by the general public. But the new Crisis brings Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman back together. In the end, this book has a more final ending – if a bit of a predictable one. But our heroes are together and strong as they pull together to face a world-bending, well, crisis.

Overall, I liked this book better than Crisis on Infinite Earths, though I enjoyed both. And the art is very spectacular. For the DC fan, this book isn’t to be missed and deserves a place on the shelf.

Book Review – Crisis on Infinite Earths

  • Title: Crisis on Infinite Earths
  • Author: Marv Wolfman
  • Artist: George Pérez
  • Characters: Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Justice League, et. al.
  • Publication Date: 2001 (this edition), first published 1985
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 8/12/2016

Crisis on Infinite Earths is big, really big, you might think it’s a long walk down to the chemist’s but… No wait, that’s The Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but nevertheless this graphic novel is huge. It is really big – in every sense. It’s 364 pages – not including the introduction or the final analysis/review and the sketchbook at the end. Not only is it a lot of pages, but the art style and layout of Crisis on Infinite Earths include many small panels almost crammed onto the individual pages – rather than four or two or a single splash page there are often 9, 11, 14, small panels per page – the effect isn’t that the art is crowded or hard to follow – it’s that there’s so much going on simultaneously that multiple panels are needed to even give a glimpse of the story. This novel is a breathless read.

The story is also huge in every way that a good superhero comics story can be. It features just about every DC superhero – from all the various alternate Earths in the pre-Crisis universe. Earth 1, Earth 2, Earth 3, Earth X, Earth S – those and more are all here – as are their heroes. Every hero from the known (Superman (two of them), Wonder Woman (two of her too), Batman, Aquaman, etc.) to the obscure (Bwana Beast, The Question, Rip Hunter, various magic-users, etc.) is here – at least briefly. And the teams are here too – from the World War 2 Era Freedom Fighters to Doom Patrol, the Justice Society to the Justice League of America, The Green Lantern Corps to the Legion of Super-Heroes. Amazingly, this doesn’t get confusing or overwhelming – the book is skillfully-written to give you at least a name or affiliation for each character, as well as usually defining their powers.

The actual story had a very pragmatic purpose – the DC Universe had gotten very confusing. When you’ve been around since 1932 – that’s bound to happen. And the creative folks at DC were feeling a bit confined by trying to keep everything in continuity or declare a story an “Elseworlds” or “Imaginary Story” (DC’s parlance for alternate universe stories and stories outside the main continuity.) The creatives at DC felt their universe was also intimidating to new readers. Crisis on Infinite Earths was DC’s plan to simplify. Not to quite go back to a clean slate or change everything – but to create a new starting point. Yet for something that had a practical purpose, it’s just an amazing roller coaster ride of a story. It moves. It has sad bits. It has humor. It has moments that will make you gasp. And it the end, it does what was promised: some will live, some will die, the DC Universe will never be the same.

I started with reading DC Comics immediately after Crisis on Infinite Earths – so I didn’t read it in softcover. And it took a long time for this story to be published as a graphic novel. This was my second reading (the first was when I bought it whenever that was) and I was even more impressed. Crisis on Infinite Earths is a “wow” graphic novel. It’s amazing. And it’s something any comics and graphics novel fan needs to read. This novel didn’t just change things at DC – it changed the comics industry forever by showing that a long, complicated, cross-over story that actually changed things could be done and could be both successful and popular. Not to be missed.

Book Review – World of Flashpoint featuring Batman

  • Title: World of Flashpoint Featuring Batman
  • Author: Brian Azzarello, J.T. Krul
  • Artists: Jimmy Palmiotti, Peter Milligan, Eduardo Risso, Mikel Janin, George Pérez, Fernando Blanco, Scott Koblish, John Dell, Joe Bennett
  • Line: Stand Alone Graphic Novel
  • Characters: The Flash (Barry Allen), Batman (Thomas Wayne), Dick Grayson, Deadman, Helmet of Fate, Deathstroke
  • Publication Date: 2011
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 6/18/2016

**Spoiler Alert** This book takes place in DC Comics alternate Flashpoint Universe – in Flashpoint Barry Allen has gotten fed up and travels back in time to prevent the murder of his mother. Or so the Reverse Flash claims (see Flashpoint or the animated DC film Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox). This has had a cascading Butterfly Effect – changing everything to the point where the world will be destroyed in a war between Aquaman and the Atlanteans and Wonder Woman and her Amazon Sisters. The World of Flashpoint series goes into details about the main characters we meet in The Flash: FlashpointFlashpoint featuring Batman consists of four stories of three parts each. These are: “Knight of Vengeance”, “Deadman and the Flying Graysons”, “Deathstroke and the Curse of the Ravager”, and “Secret Seven”.

In “Knight of Vengeance”, Thomas Wayne is Batman – following the murder of his son Bruce; and his wife, Martha who became the insane Joker. He also runs Wayne Casino and literally owns Gotham’s private security force (which has replaced the police). The Security Force’s top man is James Gordon. Joker has kidnapped Harvey Dent’s two children. She arranges things so that Gordon accidentally shoots and kills the young boy – and then kills Gordon. Batman goes after Joker, but having already met with Barry – he knows there’s a better world. He tells Martha there’s a world where their son survived, and they need to sacrifice themselves for that world to exist. Martha runs from Thomas falls off a cliff onto a stalagmite and dies. The Batman story was very good, but tragic.

In “Deadman and the Flying Graysons”, Dick Grayson is an acrobat and flyer in Haley’s Circus, with his parents, John and Mary. Also in the circus is Deadman – an aerialist who flies without a catcher, using wires, and also the mysterious Helmet of Fate. They are trapped in Europe by the war – and hunted by the Amazons who want their helmet back. The circus is constantly on the move, but they are tracked down. Mary Grayson is shot as she takes her bows at the end of a show. As the circus tries to escape, John is shot down as well. With his dying breath, he gets Deadman to promise to watch over Dick. When Deadman is later killed – his ghost watches over Dick.

This was my favorite story of the four – I loved the idea that Dick’s parents, at least, survived. Though it turns out to be “not for long”. Bringing in Deadman was an interesting touch. And, although I would have liked to see more with Doctor Fate, I found it fascinating that the Helmet would end-up in the care of someone who had no idea how to use it.

“Curse of Ravenger” was my least favorite story of the bunch. Deathstroke is a pirate, searching the seas for his kidnapped daughter. I’ve never liked Deathstroke, and making him a pirate just makes him less likable, even with his “noble” cause of trying to find his daughter. Note that one of Deathstroke’s new metas on his crew is a girl, Jenny Blitz, with Firestorm-like powers.

The last story is definitely the weirdest. “Secret Seven” features the more magical/mystical heroes of this universe. But six of them are dead, and when The Changing Man (looks like Firestorm – different powers), tries to gather a new group of seven, he’s kidnapped by Sagan Maximus of Neta Hightable to be “rationalized” – this process is interrupted. Yet again, the seven are nearly all killed, except for Abrakadabra who calls a press conference to reveal the names of the Seven, and a traitor who is working for the Amazons.

Overall, the graphic novel is worth getting, especially if you want more background on the various alternate-characters in Flashpoint.

Book Review – Batman/Superman vol. 3: Second Chance

  • Title: Batman/Superman vol. 3: Second Chance
  • Author: Greg Pak
  • Artists: Jae Lee
  • Line: New 52
  • Characters: Batman (Bruce Wayne), Superman (Clark Kent), Dr. Ray Palmer (The Atom), Kaiyo the Chaos Demon, Catwoman (Selina Kyle), Alfred Pennyworth
  • Publication Date: 2015
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 9/30/2016

DC Comics New 52 book Batman/Superman has proved to be such a disappointment that I’ve decided not to continue to purchase this series, or to look-up the rest of it that’s already available. This book had two stories both with intriguing plots – and I can’t fault the series on plotting. It’s the characterization that just isn’t quite there.

I did like the first story, Batman and Superman return from wherever, and Batman collapses. Superman scans Batman with his X-ray vision and discovers a microscopic society and city in his brain. He immediately calls in Dr. Ray Palmer (in this story just becoming The Atom), who gives Superman a “shrink belt”, acknowledging himself that it needs a better name, and they, “The Incredible Journey”-style go inside Bats to safely remove the city and it’s people – and to save Batman as the city is pressing on his brain causing a coma. Inside Batman, they meet a alien woman who’s fleeing another alien dictator. They rescue her and toss the villain out, then remove the city. The story had a light touch, and with Ray there, even some appropriate humor. Superman was reticent and unemotional about Bruce’s condition – one of the problems with New 52’s take on Superman in general. Clark and Bruce are, or should be, great friends – not colleagues who can barely take working together.

The second story has Batman and Superman sent back to Earth-2 by the Chaos Demon Kaiyo, there they are merely ghosts – until they make a single choice to act, then they get the opportunity to try to change something. Naturally, these changes don’t have the effect they want. But, upon returning to regular DC Universe Earth, both Batman and Superman completely lose their respective memories. As total amnesiacs, they also have completely different personalities. Bruce is light and carefree. Alfred tells him, because he asks, what made him become Batman – but to Bruce, it isn’t something he experienced – it’s like hearing a story or watching a movie. For Alfred, he sees Bruce happy and is glad for it. Bruce then takes up the mantle of Batman again – as a duty, almost a job, a career – something he wants to do, but not an obsession – something he’s driven to do.

Superman is less successful in adapting to his new amnesiac status. He takes up with Catwoman (out of serendipity – she’s being attacked and he rescues her when he first arrives). Superman has no memory of Lois. And he has no family. (Sidenote: What happened to the Kents? This series keeps referring to Clark as a complete orphan and the Kents being killed in a car crash, presumably when Clark was still quite young. This makes no sense.) Superman also doesn’t hold back in the use of his powers. Eventually both Bruce and Superman get their memories back – Alfred is sad to see the Batman/Bruce he has known for so long head into the Cave.

I did like the full-page panels, one for Batman and one for Superman, of several images visually representing the two getting their memories back – it’s both a wonderful static image and yet something that represents each person experiencing a rush of memories. Well done. The rest of the art in the book is also good, though the characters have a less photo-realistic or even painted look than other series in the DC line.

Again, I’ve decided to not continue buying this series. I’m loving DC Rebirth , and there are collection series reprints from the 1990s (Chuck Dixon’s Nightwing and Birds of Prey) as well as a couple of New 52 series (Birds of Prey, Justice League Dark) that I enjoy much more. I loved the Superman/Batman series from the 1990s, it was well-written, at times brilliant, and I have all or nearly all of it (I might be missing one volume); Batman/Superman is disappointing.

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 – Batman/Superman vol. 1: Cross World

  • Title: Batman/Superman vol. 1: Cross World
  • Author: Greg Pak
  • Artists: Jae Lee, Brett booth, Ben Oliver, Yildray Cinar, Norm Rapmund, Paul Siqueira, Netho Diaz
  • Line: New 52
  • Characters: Batman (Bruce Wayne), Superman (Clark Kent), Wonder Woman, Kaiyo (Darkseid’s Agent of Chaos), Lois Lane, Catwoman (Selina Kyle)
  • Publication Date: 2014
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 6/10/2016

I ended-up reading Batman/Superman, Volume 1 – Cross World twice because although I liked it the first time – I found it very confusing. The second time through, again, I enjoyed it but parts of it were still very confusing. The art in some places was truly inspiring – the double spread showing the parallels between Superman’s origins (including the deaths of Ma & Pa Kent in a car crash???) and Batman’s (the oft-told story of the death of Bruce’s parents – here reduced to 5 stunning panels) was incredible. When Wonder Woman arrives on her Pegasus holding a sword – that was awesome. But I could not, for the life of me, figure out who was who when it came to the two versions of Batman and especially the two versions of Superman. One version of Batman was married to Selina Kyle. The other was not. One was much older, the other younger. For Supes – one was older, much more powerful, and a bit arrogant. The other younger – leaping not even flying, and possibly wearing jeans and a T-shirt with the S-shield. The panels and art tended to be small and close-up, thus we couldn’t see who was who based on the different uniforms. On the other hand – the art was stunning, just stunning.

The story has an agent of Chaos (I thought at first it was Klarion the Witch-boy nemesis of Doctor Fate – it wasn’t. It was Kaiyo an agent of chaos from Apokolips bent on destroying Darkseid.) However, this isn’t really clear until towards the end of the book, and the final chapter tells Kaiyo’s story as well as giving the history of Darkseid. On my second read-through, knowing who Kaiyo was helped. She also had the power to possess people – taking over Catwoman, Lois, even Wonder Woman for brief periods.

Kaiyo – because she can, brings the heroes of two Earths together. Thus we have two Supermen and two Batmen, and a Wonder Woman. And on one Earth, the army has developed a weapon to take out Superman because they think he’s “too strong”. Kaiyo tells the Supermen, the Batmen, Wonder Woman, Lois, and Catwoman about this – after they’ve figured it out. She tells them they must choose – destroy the crystal, or keep it to destroy Darkseid. Needless to say because she’s an agent of choas she’s not super-clear about explaining this – but everyone had figured it out by the time she starts to explain it. When the crystal is destroyed – Kaiyo wipes the minds of everyone involved – thus they won’t be warned of Darkseid’s coming.

So that’s the storyline, but the fun comes in seeing two Supermen and two Batmen not only interacting with Superman and Batman but with the alternate universe versions of themselves. It’s fun – confusing – but fun. This is also a beautifully illustrated book. And the bonus section consisting of a “page to screen” with pages of dialogue and information explaining how it was then translated to the page by the artist were fascinating, and even explained the book a bit better (only certain pages or spreads were commented on – not the entire book). It was a fascinating look at how the process of pulling a graphic novel together works.