Had Batman/Superman #1 come out this year, many would assume it was cheap cash in to what is currently hip in the DC universe. After all, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice comes out next month and CW’s The Flash can’t stop bringing up Eart 2 in its storylines.
Even with all of these, and a Loki-esque villain whose sole purpose is to start the plot, there’s a lot to enjoy with Crossworld, the first volume in the Batman/Superman series. It’s not a perfect graphic novel by any means, but it is a fun one with good writing and some very impressive art.
Planet Hulk scribe Greg Pak handles the writing duties and he does a very good job. Pak knows how to handle Clark and Bruce, so it’s clear that he’s not biased towards a particular character. His version of the New 52 Clark Kent is still kind hearted, but easy to anger, while his Bruce Wayne is more arrogant, but still a genius.
Interactions between the two characters are a delight to read, whether they’re in costume or civilian clothes, Earth 2 or New 52, Pak really gets these characters. One scene that stands out is the flashback featuring the Earth 2 versions of Bruce and Clark when they were younger.
Speaking of Earth 2, adding alternate versions of Batman and Superman in his first story arc was a risky move. This could have easily muddled the storyline, but Pak pretty much uses the alternate dimension to provide meta-commentary about how the New 52 versions of Clark and Bruce are a little too dark or violent, but have potential to be great.
When the New 52 lineup started, it was decided that both sets of Superman’s parents would die. While the death of his Kryptonian family was a given, killing off Martha and Jonathan Kent proved to be controversial. This was done so that Clark would be a bit edgier than his pre-Flashpoint counterpart, who many deemed too nice.
After a minor tussle in the second issue of the collection, New 52 Clark meets the Earth 2 version of his mother and father. The moment Martha suggests that Clark lost his parents; he starts sobbing, showing that this edgier version of Superman is still a kind but hurting soul, which is actually pretty compelling.
Admittedly the Earth 2 meta-commentary can be a bit on the nose and start to drag a bit, with constant comments about how they need to get along, but for the most part it’s fun. Seeing the New 52 versions try to one up their Earth 2 counterparts also makes for some fun banter.
Things start to fall apart near the end, when a doomsday machine is brought up and the Loki-esque villain starts pulling a Deus Ex Machina to bring things back to the status quo. It’s a bit of a copout to be honest and makes for a bit of a frustrating read, though the Villain’s Month issue focused on Darkseid is a nice bonus.
The art by Jae Lee is pretty great. The opening page with the gothic looking Gotham is very beautiful. It’s a shame he couldn’t draw the whole arc, but the fill-in artists like Ben Oliver do a great job as well, even if it makes the artwork in the collection a bit inconsistent.
Overall, Batman/Superman Vol. 1: Crossworld is a good read for those who can’t wait for the upcoming film and for older fans that miss the pre-Flashpoint DCU. It’s not exactly new reader friendly, with all the Earth 2 hijinks that can be a bit confusing, but Pak’s writing saves it.
Extras: The script of the first issue, sketchbook gallery by Jae Lee and variant cover.