By Koppy McFad
January 26, 2009 - 02:37
It also marks the first major DC Comics story by writer Len Wein in years. Wein, who co-created Swamp Thing and the New X-Men and who had successful stints in JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA, INCREDIBLE HULK, DEFENDERS, BATMAN and many other titles, had dropped out of the industry a while back and except for a Edgar Allan Poe-themed miniseries in 2003, he hasn't done much work for the big two companies.
Yet in recent months, he has done a CRISIS crossover, a special issue of JUSTICE LEAGUE and now, this annual. The old-timers among us will remember the Composite Superman who not only looked weird but had the combined powers of the Legion of Superheroes.
Wein does not attempt to bring the Silver-Age back in this self-contained story. If anything, he appears to be feeling out the new DC universe and the modern story-telling techniques. The new versions of Firefly, Mr. Freeze, Atomic Skull and Metallo are used and neither thought balloons or narrative captions are present. Batman and Superman are still friends, willing to exchange personal information but there is also a tension between them, not to mention, an effort by each one to upstage the other.
Without giving up too much, lets just say the new Composite Superman isn't just a demented criminal but is now something scarier-- and sadder. The story does feel rather overcrowded as numerous characters were shoehorned in even as the writer experimented with a less compressed style of storytelling. However the excitement and drama of the tale still comes through.
The art is sharp and highly detailed, especially when it comes to the more mechanical characters like Metallo and Atomic Skull But it also looks a bit too stiffly-posed. This detracts from the sense of mystery and tragedy that the story is suppose to have.
Some other old names like Cary Bates, have recently returned to mainstream comics-- some of them not so smoothly . Not sure if this issue marks a resurgence for Wein but judging from this issue, he could eventually find a place in today's comics.
Rating: 7 /10