Sunday, May 01, 2005

SUPERMAN/BATMAN #19

I knew better than to start this. When Supes is on the cover giving me a vaguely apologetic smirk that says "It's crap and I know you're going to read it anyway"... Actually, it wasn't Big Blue who was the giveaway. It was Supergirl. At least in terms of this title, she's my kryptonite -- she shows up and my attention span completely evaporates. Needless to say, I won't be picking up Supergirl when it starts up this summer.

Attention span aside, I needn't have worried. As has been increasingly the case with the DC books, this wasn't an actual story. It was instead a 22-page advertisement for other books -- passive crossovers that the completists will have to buy and the rest of us will feel vaguely duped for reading.

Jeph Loeb, aided by Ian Churchill's best Michael Turner impressions, manages to shill and pander all in one neat package. We got the Dini/Timm subtext-what-subtext of Harley and Ivy in a story lifted fairly intact from the animated episode with Kara and Babs taking on the bad gals. We got Loeb doing his Clayface-as-someone-who-shouldn't-be-there routine -- although considering the last two people Loeb had Clayface impersonate were Tommy Elliot (Hush) and Jason Todd (Red Hood), maybe this is a sekrit message that Babs Gordon will be walking again soon. And we got it all wrapped up with a bundle of harbingers of Path to Infinite Crisis. (hrmm... I like PtIC as an acronym. Consider yourselves warned.) Coming out of the Absolute Power arc, there is no possible other reason to have Calculator and Lex Luthor taking Supergirl for a test drive. And in case we didn't get it, we have both Clark and Bruce reinforcing the point in their color-coded thought bubbles.

The real trouble with this book is that it's not bad enough to drop out of annoyance. It's never throw-across-the-room awful, even if I did come close during that arc that had Power Girl, Major Force, and Green Lantern teaming up to take the boys down. It's also never awesome, no matter how many fanboy references Loeb crammed into Absolute Power. It's a book that is consistently wacky in both good and really-not-good ways -- Lex planting a big, wet one on Amanda Waller, anyone? -- and that finds a way to import that wacky into mainstream canon. Which makes it hard to ignore.

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