By: Kryptonian Detective
In the first story arch of this ongoing series, President Lex Luthor discovers that a large Kryptonian asteroid is on a collision course with Earth. Meanwhile Superman and Batman are united while chasing after the human/robot with a Kryptonite heart, Metallo.
After escaping a near death encounter with Metallo, the two heroes retreat to the bat-cave. While there they are visited by Superman from the future, who warns the pair not to make a mistake that will cause the end of the world, and above all to be weary of Lex Luthor. Speaking of the president, he uses the asteroid to further his personal vendetta against Superman. President Luthor asserts that the asteroid is on its way here because of Superman, and offers a one billion-dollar reward to whoever turns him into the authorities where he will face charges of crimes against humanity. The two heroes decide that the best way to handle this problem is to confront Luthor about his claims on national TV while being interviewed by Lois Lane, thereby exposing him as a liar and leading to a possible impeachment. Their plan is interrupted by a bevy of super-villains eager to collect the one billion-dollar reward. After engaging in a massive battle royal and defeating the onslaught, Superman and Batman are intercepted by a coalition of heroes working for the president who have orders to take them in. These heroes include Captain Atom, Green Lantern, Major Force, Starfire, Power Girl, Black Lightening and Katana.
Refusing Captain Atom’s last request to surrender, the worlds finest engage in a battle against the group. After separating Power Girl and Katana from the group, it is revealed that they were acting as double agents inside Luthor’s administration. The foursome teleports to Japan, only to be followed by the coalition. However, cooler heads prevail as Superman and Batman are able to convince Captain Atom and his troops that President Luthor is the real threat. Back at the White House, in an underground bunker the president is informed that Superman and Batman are still at large and decides to take matters into his own hands, and injects himself with a liquefied shot of Kryptonite. JSA reinforcements Hawkman and Captain Atom blind side Superman and Batman leading to their capture. Two teams comprised of the allies of Superman and Batman descend upon the White House to free their mentors. Superman’s allies include. Superboy, Matrix Supergirl and Krypto, Superman’s Kryptonian dog. Batman’s allies include Nightwing, Robin, and Huntress.
The two teams split up. One is headed to the oval office, while the others search for Bruce and Clark. However both groups run into problems. Nightwing, Huntress and Robin are badly beaten and knocked unconscious by President Luthor who is under the influence of Kryptonite injections. Meanwhile, Superboy and Matrix Supergirl have been trapped in a containment area by a few armed guards. Elsewhere, Captain Atom has boom tubed to the future. There he encounters the future Superman, who tells him that they are in Kansas, which has become a wasteland since the asteroid hit. Back in the present, Hawkman swoops in on the containment area and rescues Superboy and Matrix Supergirl, revealing himself to be Batman in disguise. Apparently, Batman and Superman allowed themselves to be captured by Hawkman and Captain Marvel, so it would be easier to gain access to Luthor. Back in the oval office, Superman disguised as Captain Atom grabs Lex by the throat, hoists him in the air and considers ending his threat permanently.
However, Superman regains his composure and throws Lex aside, and he and Batman head for Japan. Feeling utterly embarrassed and enraged, President Luthor prepares for battle with Superman by injecting himself with Kryptonite and putting on battle armor. Superman and Batman are back in Japan meeting with a young thirteen-year-old, named Hiro Okamura. Hiro is a technological genius who has built a rocket ship made from the metal that was used to create Metallo. It is the only metal that can withstand the levels of radiation that can withstand the asteroid’s radiation.
The three men are joined by Captain Atom who informs them that in order for events not to unfold as the future Superman predicted, he must pilot the rocket. Back in Metropolis, Luthor and Superman face off in the sky. As the two men exchange blows, Lex reveals that he has been working with Darkseid all along.
The alien warlord of Apokolips has provided Luthor with alien technology and intel as to the origin of the asteroid. Superman punches through the suit’s defenses sending Lex plummeting into Lexcorp Tower. When he lands, Batman engages him. The two begin fighting and Lex stabs the Dark Knight. As the two tussle, Lex’s slips and hangs perilously outside a window. Before Batman can rescue him, a boom tube explodes, damaging the structural integrity of the building; thus it begins to fall. The heroes can’t deduce whether Luthor teleported when the boom tube erupted. As Batman and Superman contemplate this, Captain Atom pilots the rocket into the asteroid, absorbing its radiation, which leads to Kryptonite rainstorms throughout the world. As the book ends, Pete Ross is named President of the United States, and Luthor is crawling through the rubble of Lexcorp proclaiming that there will be a reckoning and a crisis coming.
Imagine Michael Bay and Jerry Bruckheimer producing a Superman/Batman movie. That’s what Jeph Loeb essentially does in the first story arch of this book. For Superman and Batman to team up, it must be a grand scale threat. Well, it doesn’t get much more grand scale then a Kryptonian asteroid and the fall of President Luthor. This story is action packed. It starts off right from the beginning with the fight between Superman/Batman vs. Metallo, and continues right to the last fight with a Kryptonite injected Lex.
Not only is the action great, but the character beats are superb. Loeb simply “gets” Superman and Batman. I love the contrast he sets up between the two characters in issue one, all of which stem from their viewpoints on their origins. Superman views his as a dream, while Batman, sees him as a nightmare. Loeb cleverly asserts the two heroes’ relationship through their inner thoughts. There is great respect and admiration for each other. These two know each other as if they were brothers. They consider each other as friends, but would never admit it. Loeb’s references to other stories, such as Hush, and Kingdom Come make reading this book a pure delight. Just as watching Pamela Anderson running down the beach with her breasts bouncing mesmerize a thirteen year old boy to keep watching Baywatch, this book’s story line entices readers to keep reading this title long after this story ends.
Writing Grade: 5/5
Ed McGuinness is not a bad artist. His work is just not my cup of espresso. When compared to the likes of Jim Lee, Michael Turner, George Perez, and John Byrne, his work seems more akin to instant coffee. His work is too cartoonish, and heavily influenced by anime. It seems better suited for the Johnny DC line of books, then the mainstream line. One major problem for me is that when featured on the same page, Superman and Captain Marvel, and Superman and Captain Atom look like identical twins. Also, every character in this book has that over exaggerated “Jay Leno” looking superhero chin. It drives me insane.
However, McGuinness did have some shinning moments. He can definitely draw one hell of a fight. Standouts include the fights involving Metallo, the Kingdom Come Superman, and Lex Luthor. McGuinness’ best work comes in issue two, when Kingdom Come Superman picks up the 1966 Batmobile and readies to throw it on top of Batman. That looked spectacular.
Art Grade: 3/5