TITLE: Superman/Batman: Night and Day
AUTHOR: Michael Green, Mike Johnson, Peter Johnson, Matt Cherniss, Scott Kolins.
ARTISTS: Francis Manapul, Rafael Albuquerque, Scott Kolins.
COLLECTS: Superman/Batman #60-63, 65-67
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
RELEASED: August 31
By Justin Polak
Co-founder, Ambassador to the Mushroom Kingdom
I’ve never been that big into comics. I have absolutely nothing against them and I grew up around them, as my father is a man who sinks hundreds of dollars a month at times into comic related merchandise. That being said, one of the reasons I don’t get into them is because the big two companies, DC and Marvel, feel the need to have every superhero be in one universe. I know that there are alternate universes or similar alternatives to that notion, but I just don’t have the patience to read multiple titles just to keep track of multiple story lines. That doesn’t mean I think they are bad stories, but it’s all just a bit too much for me.
I’ve always liked Batman, though. What draws me to him is what I imagine a lot of readers are drawn toward him for. He is scary, smart, dangerous, fun to watch, prepared for literally anything and accomplishes great tasks with no super powers. Superman? Well, I respect the guy, but I’m in the camp that thinks is character is boring unless he is put in unusual circumstances … and most of those stories are non-canon.
Despite my mixed feeling on more traditional comic books, I gave the graphic novel compilation of Superman/Batman Night and Day a read. Instead of going through my overall feelings of the collection, I’ve decided to summarize my thoughts on each story presented.
Mash-Up: I’m not sure if it was a good or bad thing that I ended up laughing at this. Though there is a plausible explanation for this set up, Mash-Up tells a story where Batman and Superman are suddenly in a combined universe where certain allies and certain foes are combined into one person. The city where this madness takes place? Gothamopolis. Our heroes run into the Justice Titans and help them fend off The Brotherhood of Injustice. Reading this story would be like if you dumped a bunch of broken action figures in front of a child and let him put them together and run with it. Some parts are entertaining and creative while others make you roll your eyes. I’ll just leave you with this thought: Lex Joker.
Sidekicked: Robin (Tim Drake) and Supergirl decide to meet up at a diner and recall the first time they were forced to work together. The very first thing that came to mind while flipping through this one was that it would have made a great filler episode in one of the DC animated series, minus the more graphic parts of course. While Superman and Batman are away, a riot at Arkham Asylum breaks out. Robin and Supergirl answer the call and clean up the mess. The only memorable part about this one is the shock Supergirl was put through when she saw firsthand what the Joker is capable of. At that point in her life, she was still learning about humanity and couldn’t comprehend how a person like the Joker acts the way he does.
Night Day: Batman is the last superhero remaining, as well as the last human that isn’t under Gorilla Grodd’s mental control. Where’s Superman? Forcibly exiled, as Grodd managed to put Kryptonite in the Earth’s atmosphere. By far this was the most interesting story for me. I’m a person that likes to see how far the good guys can be pushed. The closer to the point of defeat, the better. With a superhero like Batman who improvises as much as he does, it was fun watching him work in such dire circumstances.
Sweet Dreams: What happens when Scarecrow gets sick of Superman, Batman, Lex Luthor and The Joker grabbing all the headlines? It’s simple, put all four of them in a perpetual nightmare. I couldn’t get into this story too much because, well, I don’t really buy Scarecrow taking out four powerful and resourceful characters for any reason. Plus, Superman and Lex Luthor’s nightmares were easy to see coming from a mile away. Batman’s was obvious as well, but the climax to his nightmare was very intense. The Joker’s nightmare was the most well written, and what haunts him the most is appropriately very funny.
Night of the Cure: Man-Bat is looking for a cure for his condition and Bizarro just wants to make a friend. All this comes together as an excuse for a plot for Black Lantern Solomon Grundy to come out and create chaos everywhere he goes. Although I never read the Blackest Night series, I am familiar with the overall plot. I’m sure there are those of you out there who love the concept of Solomon Grundy getting a Black Lantern ring, but I just can’t get behind it. I think Grundy is a boring, useless character that served nothing other than to annoy me. The dude just mopes around in the sewer saying that damn rhyme over and over again while attacking heroes just because he can. He always came off to me as an annoying random encounter in a RPG that slows down the next real plot point.
The only other aspect I wish to address is the art. Although I liked the Night Day story itself with Grodd, I thought Batman looked a little funny. His costume made sense for the scenario presented, and it did a great job conveying that he was working with extremely limited resources, but there were a couple of panels where I swear that Wolverine was donning the cowl.
Also, some of the art featured in Sweet Dreams didn’t thrill me. The Superman drawn during his nightmare sequence looked like a bad combination between modern and 80?s artwork, and the end result is a foreign, awkward looking face. It looked like something out of a rough storyboard, to be frank. I also didn’t like Batman’s design towards the end of the story. My main problem was the way his eyes looked in his costume, as it looked like his mask didn’t fit right on his face, much like Adam West’s costume in the classic TV show. I know these artists have drawn wonderfully in the past, and that’s why I ended up scratching my head at several panels throughout the book.
Like any collection of this nature, Superman/Batman: Night and Day has it’s ups and downs. While I wasn’t impressed with this book overall, I’m sure it is better appreciated among fans who closely follow this series.