Sunday, June 27, 2010

Batman/Superman #73 - Awesome Worthy of Worship

Here we go again. DC has once again sunk their greedy claws into me by dangling the metaphorical carrot of awesome in front of me. They've hit a string of grand slams with Blackest Night and Brightest day and because of it, I'm adding more and more DC comics to my pull list. It's like quitting smoking, but then taking a casual drag from a friend on a whim and the next thing I know I'm knocking over 7/11s at two in the morning for a fresh pack. It's been a while since I picked up Batman/Superman, but after the radiant awesome of Superman #700 and the engaging stories of Brightest day I just couldn't resist taking a peak. I haven't been into Batman/Superman since the Jeph Loeb era and for good reason. A lot of the stories after it have been about as promising as Tiger Woods's wedding vows. Now I've taken another look and I'm glad I did because the sheer awesome that Superman has been towing lately cannot be understated.

The issue starts off in a way similar to that of Superman #700, but not too similar. Lois Lane is in trouble again. Yeah, I know. That's about as new as the invention of the wheel. But it's a different kind of trouble this time. She's not just caught up in some supervillain's agenda. She's been kidnapped by a crazy cult who for reasons that are perfectly rational to any major religion, wants to sacrifice her to Superman. I don't get it either, but the sad thing is that's probably not the craziest thing a cult has done.

It's an interesting premise. Superman has been such an inspiration over the years, you're left wondering why some freaky religious cult didn't develop sooner. Take anything that extreme and somebody is bound to make a religion of it. As is often the case, the religion drinks heavily from the well of the irrational and human sacrifice is about as reasonable as burning incense to appease the volcano gods. Unfortunately for these guys, Lois Lane isn't a helpless damsel. She's married to Superman for a reason and as such she's not to be fucked with.

She puts up a good fight and the freaky cult leaders are left with wounded spirits, hurt pride, and a few critical injuries that are sure to earn favor with the sadomasochistic mercy gods. But she still needs saving and usually this is where Superman would swoop in and begin mass castrations for those who tried to burn his wife at the stake. But oddly enough, it isn't the Man of Steel that saves her. It's the Dark Knight. This is Batman/Superman after all so why shouldn't Batman get some screen time to kick a little ass?

He ends up doing more than that though. His next task is to interrogate one of the cult members to get some information. And anybody who knows anything about Batman's interrogation methods knows that the unfortunate victim is usually willing to suck Satan's greasy cock after just a few minutes of having a little chat with the Dark Knight.

While this poor soul is getting the fear of God shoved into his ass, Lex Luthor is at it again. Anytime someone is being worshiped as a god that isn't him, he's going to get involved. It stands to reason that if Luthor ever met the almighty himself, he would challenge him to a dick measuring contest and stretch his cock to the ends of the universe in order to win. So naturally he's going to try and one-up Superman by becoming a god in his own right. To do this he's working on a gateway to a planet that he's trying to psychologically manipulate. He wants the inhabitants to worship him as a god. When it comes to ego, Lex Luthor never does anything half-assed.

While Luthor is stroking his rock hard boner of an ego, Batman continues to interrogate the unlucky soul he subdued. Then Superman enters the picture and helps move things along, interrogating the man as anyone would for someone who just tried to kill their wife. It goes without saying that the man sang like Celine Dion. Apparently, these devout religious folk got their cues from something called the Visionary. As a means of showing devotion, it instructed the cult to sacrifice Lois Lane. I don't get it either, but it makes about as much sense as 90 percent of the bible so it's still perfectly rational in that sense. How sad is that?

With this information, Batman and Superman begin their investigation. It's like a good old fashioned mystery novel, only with more men in tights and aliens who look human. But their investigation is pretty standard. Both heroes look for answers as anyone would expect, which is admittedly pretty bland. But remarkably enough, they fall behind the one key player who doesn't have superpowers or three billion dollars of crime fighting gear. Yep, I'm talking about Lois freakin' Lane and for once she does more than just get captured and rescued.

She goes old school on the heroes, relying instead on being a kick-ass reporter who happens to have more integrity than 99 percent of the media. In other words, Fox News wouldn't hire her even if she had gold tits that spewed oil. She looks further into the man that was interrogated. Her reasoning is so profound that every religion cowers before such logic. Follow the money. It shows that while Lois Lane may always be a damsel in some ways, she knows how to do her part in the superhero business.

While answers are coming in for Lois, Lex Luthor is still working on his megalomaniac plan to become god to an entire planet. In other words, it's a pretty average Wednesday night for him. He's preparing to demonstrate technology to this planet, using simple machines that to an unenlightened mind would be more mind-blowing than a shot of LSD mixed with tequila. Lex is surprisingly articulate as he orders his minions around, making sure he's miles above them at all times in terms of authority and ballsiness. One has to worry for the planet he's about to seduce because his first divine commandment will probably be "Thoust shalt not have bigger balls than the almighty."

While this blasphemous project is going on, Superman and Lois arrive at a location that she uncovered and meet up with Batman. It turns out good old fashioned reporting does trump superpowers at times because they end up barging in on yet another freaky ritual with the Superman cult. They find out that this Visionary isn't a person that got one too many hugs from his priest as a boy. It's a glowing ball of energy. Again, in terms of cults that's perfectly reasonable. And like any religious visionary, the thing is still spouting nonsense about sacrificing Lois Lane. That's like worshipping God by breaking all his commandments and having butt sex with the devil. Even the Taliban would call that pretty fucked up.

Superman tries to set things right. He does what the movie Ghostbusters specifically teaches men not to do, which is to deny that they are god when one asks them if they are. He stands in front of the cult and says he's not god and that Visionary is just a technological trick. Granted, religion has never been good at keeping pace with science, but it's a harsh reality that they have to accept. Superman is okay with any praise, but the last thing he wants is a cult tolerant of human sacrifice in his name.

He goes onto lecture about how fucked up they are to join a cult as batshit as this. But before his lesson sinks in that Visionary ball gets unstable and by unstable I mean ready to unleash enough explosive force to burn the flesh off the bones of anyone in a two mile radius. Superman does what he does best, trying to grab the Visionary and fly it up into the sky where it won't harm anybody. It takes some doing, but Superman does blow the fire out like a big birthday candle. All the while the cult members are still urging him to save them even after he specifically said he wasn't a god. I suppose that means being a good listener wasn't a lesson taught by this cult. Again, in terms of most ordinary religions it's pretty typical.

Even though the Visionary is snuffed out, there are still plenty of questions left unanswered. The fire blob was just a trick of technology and like all technology it needs someone to operate it. The only question is who and to any reader with three quarters of a brain, the answer is pretty clear. This is where the plot with Lex Luthor ties into the plot with Batman and Superman. It's a perfect merging at the end, revealing that Luthor was behind the cult. It seems like this was just a proving ground, a test for when he takes the next step with the target planet. In terms of plotting, this is pretty damn brilliant and Luthor. He may be a madman, but he knows how to go the extra mile.

It's a solid end to a solid comic, setting things up for another pivotal issue. It lures the reader in like that first hit of crack and it's a great jumping on point for those looking to get back into this series. I certainly enjoyed it. It's not nearly as emotional and profound as Superman #700, but it does everything a reader could want in a Batman/Superman comic. It isn't without it's faults. At times the art is a little inconsistent. The colors are poor so are the details. In addition the action is a little weak at times. It feels as though it could have been drawn out more, but for what it's worth it most certainly got the job done.

This is another awesome comic that is doing even more to rekindle my love for the Man of Steel. It's not the flawless masterpiece that Superman #700 was, but it's still pretty damn awesome. This comic gets a 4.5 out of 5 and a very enthusiastic recommendation for anybody with any level of appreciation for awesome comics. It's official! I'm back on the Batman/Superman bandwagon and eagerly await for my next hit in Batman/Superman #74! Nuff said.

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