By Jeff Lemire, Karl Kerschl, Scott Hepburn, and Gabe Eltaeb
The title of this book may be Batman and Superman, but make no mistake about it, Ray Palmer is the star of this story. Before we dive into that, it must be mentioned that this one-shot, fill in story by Jeff Lemire, along with artists Karl Kerschl and Scott Hepburn, is only published due to scheduling woes by the regular creative team of Greg Pak and Jae Lee. Lucky for us.
This story, delightfully simple yet silly in its premise, is pure Silver Age entertainment. It’s fun, sci-fi, and borderline slapstick. Could this story have been saved for a multi-issue arc? Sure, but that would take away from just how much fun it is. Ray Palmer, suiting up for the first time in the New 52, and Superman must travel through Batman’s blood stream into his brain. Yup, it’s that goofy, which makes it such an enjoyable read.
DC Comics, please write more books like this.
Sorry, had to throw that in there. Supes and the Ato . . . errrr . . . Ray Palmer travel a bit to the unknown where they immediately meet two foes (one for each of them, how convenient) living in Batman’s brain. The names of the villains, somewhat lost in translation, serve as the perfect set up punch lines and one-liners (and did I catch a little poke at Marvel?). Again, highly entraining stuff. Lemire’s dialogue is crisp, poignant, and entertaining. The plot is merely a back drop to show some adept character work. Superman within the DC Universe has been on an upswing as of late (thanks to Charles Soule and Greg Pak), yet this still might have been the best Superman seen in the New 52. That’s has a lot to do with Lemire’s perfect buddy cop partner Ray Palmer, who needs to be placed on a team book ASAP (seriously, he’d be a great fit on Justice League United).
Artistically speaking, Kerschl and Hepburn are similar enough in style that their pages don’t greatly contrast. There’s no jarring shift in the visuals. Personally, this art team, along with colorist Gabe Eltaeb, was perfect for the much lighter subject matter of this book. I’d love to see either of the artists on their own book. The page layouts throughout were solid, and the coloring was spot on. The contrast in appearance between the bleak lab in the Fortress of Solitude and the brightly colored source of the conflict within Batman’s brain are a highlight of Eltaeb’s work (not to mention the ability to have that many blue characters who are so different).
While it’s sad that this is merely a one and done story. It gives DC fans a glimmer of hope for Ray Palmer in the future. The second to last page of the book will put a smile on any reader’s face. Palmer’s last line of dialogue is perfect. But before you think this book will have no implications on the greater DC Universe, the last page quickly snaps this story back into continuity. The cliff hanger at the end could have major implications in future storylines, or perhaps it is one of those threads we never see picked up again. Regardless, this story, whether it has future implications or not, is pure joy.