By Brad Dade
November 8, 2006 - 09:25
Back in the early 1990’s DC put out a 3 issue prestige format mini series starring Batman and Superman. Remember, back then Bats and Superman didn’t appear in several books together every month, therefore this was a special occasion. The plot has both Batman and Superman becoming involved with an orphanage the lies between Gotham City and Metropolis. The same orphanage gets the attention of two other infamous DC patrons, namely Lex Luthor and The Joker. Several “swaps” occur wherein Joker goes to Metropolis on vacation while Luthor travels to Gotham as part of an attempt to buy his way into taking over that city. Also, Superman travels to Gotham and, of course, Batman goes to Metropolis to illustrate the differences between both cities and their hometown heroes.
WHAT’S SO GOOD ABOUT IT?
First, a word about the artwork. Steve Rude is at the top of his game here. You could remove all the dialogue here and still get your money’s worth just looking at the pictures. If fact, there are a lot of scenes that are wordless and allow the art to carry the story. What makes the art so great is Rude’s ability to convey a timeless feel to the story. While set in a contemporary setting, it could easily fit in any decade of comics history. The art is a mix of 1950’s Superman cartoon along with a tip to the 1990’s Batman the animated series without being too “kiddie”. Besides Bat and Supes, Rude does beautiful renditions of both heroes supporting cast. I was surprised that both cast fit into the story without feeling crowded. Special attention must be given to colorist Steve Oliff and inker Karl Kesel. While most of the time inkers and colorists are the forgotten part of the “creative team” these two help make the book stand out. Kesel’s dark inks make all the characters look elegant. Oliff’s coloring really brighten the pages and make even unimportant background characters stand out. Oliff would go on to win several Eisner awards for his work(most notably on the early Spawn issues).
Dave Gibbons story does a nice job of juggling several settings and plotlines, often on the same page. Each character has their own voice here without it feeling forced. Whether it’s Lois telling Alfred he doesn’t have to serve drinks, or the Joker negotiating building prices with Luthor, each character is given their own moment. The plot is fun but by no means a deep thinking piece of literature. The plot is merely a tool to move the various characters out of their familiar settings.
ANYTHING BAD HERE?
Some might be a little confused by the depiction of the Joker in this story. This is not the “Hannibal Lector” Joker that has dominated for the last 15 or so years. While a criminal and clearly insane, he is free on a technicality that is never explained, and even owns property in Gotham city. In some ways, especially when first meeting with Luthor, the Joker almost is more like a crime boss than super villain. There is a more 1950’ feel to the Joker here. While I liked it, some might not appreciate it.
WORTH ANOTHER LOOK?
Looking back at this series I’m surprised it never got more attention from fans. The fun story along with fantastic artwork really deserve it. If you want a brake from grim and gritty comics, crisis’s and civil wars, with is a great diversion.
Last Updated: September 6, 2021 - 08:15