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From A Library – Superman/Batman: Absolute Power

Superman/Batman: Absolute Power TPB
by Jeph Loeb and Carlos Pacheco

Despite my dislike of a previous Loeb-written story, I wanted to read this trade for two reasons: firstly, the majestically gorgeous art of Carlos Pacheco; secondly, I have a weakness for alternate dimension stories (and I do mean weakness – why else would I have read this?).

There is a nice idea here: Legion of Superheroes’ villains (from the future – keep up) come back in time to change the past. In this case, they take Kal-el and Bruce Wayne and take them under their wings, eradicate the heroes who will become the Justice League of America, and train them to be evil. This allows them to rule the world (and vainly put up statues of themselves instead of the Statue of Liberty), removing all other heroes who rebel. All except Diana of the Amazons, who awakens the Golden Age hero Uncle Sam in order to fight back. They go and pick up the Green Lantern ring for Sam (Cosmic King, Saturn Queen and Lightning Lord couldn’t touch it), and then locate the rest of the Freedom Fighters.

There is a quick interlude with Deadman inhabiting Superman, before Batman gets rid of him using some Zatanna magic, before Diana and the Freedom Fighters turn up to fight. Diana kills Batman, before Superman kills her in return (in a rather horrific full-page spread, strangling her with her own lasso, with a graphic look of death on her face – thanks, DC). Only for the world to end …

We arrive in an alternate dimension, with Luthor president, and Superman and Batman are being attacked by gorillas. It appears to be the world of Kamandi, but Suerpman dies because of kryptonite. This leads to another dimension hop, to a modern city where they are attacked by DC cowboy heroes. Superman dies again (what a loser), and we are in another dimension, where Darkseid rules. However, he gives them boom tube technology to stop the three LSH villains from taking Kal away from the Kents. This causes him to remember ‘reality’, and what is going on. However, when they go to do the same for Batman, Bruce saves his parents from being killed, so Batman is never created …

This change to reality leads to Ra’s Al Ghul taking over the world – Superman is attacked by Sgt Rock, Easy Company, the Haunted Tank and the Blackhawks – so Kal goes to see Bruce at Wayne Manor (where we have enough time for Loeb to self-servingly insert a mention of his own creation, Hush). Kal forces Bruce to remember his parents being killed so that he can be Batman. He then resurrects the JLA with Lazarus Pit, to take on Ra’s, only to find he has help from the three LSH villains. Then we have the big fight – Batman kills Ra’s and they take the villains back to the future to be dealt with the adult LSH, bringing everything back to normal.

This is all rather silly rubbish, not worthy of having such fantastic pencils telling the story. Particularly annoying is the loathsome prose from Loebs throughout the entire story, having Kal-el and Bruce constantly narrating everything that occurs in the story – it got on my nerves within the first few pages, and this is a five-issue collection. The one redeeming factor is the Pacheco artwork – powerful, sleek, dynamic, sexy, vibrant, joyful – which is everything comic book superhero art should be. I might have got more out of this if I had a PhD in DC history – I can recognise the various aspects of this dimensional jaunt, but that makes it more like showing off rather than organic story-telling. I must get a handle on my weakness for alternate dimensions …

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