Superman/Batman #78 review

This issue opens with shocking scenes as Superman and Batman are seen engaging in brutal conflict. The narration doesn’t shy from letting us know things aren’t as they seem, and we’re soon shown that the fights are the imaginings of two boys engaging in a game of ‘Who would win’? 

And that’s basically it for Joe Kelly’s story, written with son Jack. But that’s enough, as the tale features the blend of intense drama and sharp humour that makes Kelly one of the best mainstream writers around. However much Kelly Jr contributed, well done, young sir. And artist Ed Benes brings his A-game, illustrating with a straight face that makes the daft moments even funnier (click on image to enlarge).

The fine letters and colours are the work of Messrs Steve Wands and Pete Pantazis respectively.

I suspect that this joyous bagatelle was commissioned for Superman/Batman #75 (click for review) but was set aside either because that book features a charming Billy Tucci short with a similar set-up, or because the Kellys’ story deserved the spotlight only its own issue could assure. That would explain it not being book-length.

The rest of this issue is filled with a fable that couldn’t be more different. It fits the Kryptonian/Gothamite model, being a teaming of Power Girl and Huntress, but Lord, it’s depressing. 

Power Girl wants to help Huntress rescue folk after a Gotham earthquake. Huntress tells her: ‘We don’t need your help’ (any people trapped beneath the rubble might disagree).

Apparently Huntress doesn’t like being around interdimensional transplant Power Girl because the pain on the latter’s face when she looks at her, Huntress Helena Bertinelli, and remembers her fallen friend, Huntress Helena Wayne, makes HHB oh-so-sad, reminding her of her own sorrows.

The wallowing is interrupted when a lost alien child crawls out of the rocket that caused the quake and lashes out telepathically, linking the three’s common misery. Huntress wants to bash the child’s face in, Power Girl assures him they’ll get him him home, the story tells us, nah, it’ll never happen.

This slice of misery was written by Amanda McMurray, presumably as some kind of therapy – pass the pain on and all that. Cheers, Amanda.

Brett Booth illustrates and looking at the monumental thighs he gives Power Girl, I think we’ve finally found a male comic artist who isn’t a boobs guy. The characters are intense, perfectly in keeping with the dripping angst of McMurray’s script – quite an achievement given Booth was likely trying not to slash his wrists as he drew.

On the one hand, good on DC for giving us such variety in one comic book. On the other, please don’t do it again.

7 thoughts on “Superman/Batman #78 review

  1. The last line of the PG/Huntress short stopped me dead as well, but I believe it doesn't mean “They're going to fail at getting the kid home.” I think there should have been an lettering emphasis on “they,” like “You'll get home again.” “Even though they never will,” meaning Peej and Helena.

    Which is…also very depressing, mind you. Really weird choice, sticking those two stories together. I definitely agree with the last line of your assessment. 😛


  2. Ah, Jennifer, you're brilliant – why didn't I see that? That has to be what was meant … a wee note of optimism to end on. Thank you so much!

    But yes, the story's still a headscratcher – Power Girl made peace with her dual world angst awhile back, while Helena B was never Helena W, as I understand it.

    Oh, I do wish the Crisis on Infinite Earths hadn't tried to integrate Earths one and two – separate but equal would have been fine.


  3. The backup was very odd as I kind of recall Power Girl befriending Huntress back in the JSA Classified series and I think they worked together in Birds of Prey and elsewhere. The modern Huntress has never been a favorite of mine at the best of times and yet this story isn't all that out of character for her I suppose, just very exaggerated.

    Overall it was An Okay issue, more of a filler really. That's becoming a bit of a worry for Superman/Batman and I do feel it's in a bit of a rut, it needs a bit more momentum instead of feeling like it's marking time.
    Nontheless it remains a favorite as these two characters a unique combination and it really does feel like the old Worlds Finest book I still reread occasionally! You can get some terrific stories out of this combination and Joe Kelly here makes me extremely sad that he isn't asked back to the Superman titles for a second run – If anyone could rescue Superman right now he'd be the one.


  4. Sorry you didn't enjoy either story here, MaGnUs … maybe next issue? Not that I know what's in there – I really must check Previews.

    Dave, I wonder if that back-up has been lying around in an inventory draw for ages. That might explain why the attitudes of the characters are so off. Well, a little, at least.

    I wish DC would just change the name of this book to World's Finest – I can't stand the title-free covers. And then we can have some fun stories with our heroes turning into cavemen, fighting El Monstro and arguing with the Super Sons. Memories …


  5. I'm a massive Joe Kelly fan and just wish DC or Marvel would give the guy a bit of room to swing. Sadly I just don't think Superman/Batman is that place.


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