In a complete reverse of the situation outlined in Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, Loeb uses this third volume in the series to put the super-duo into something of an alternate reality, where Batman and Superman are the rulers of the world. A group of super-villains from the future have travelled back in time to change history, avenging the death of Batman’s parents on the spot and plucking the baby Superman straight from Jonathan and Martha Kent’s clutches before they can pull him out of the space craft. As a result, Batman and Superman are brought up with very different values – Batman is no longer a whirlwind of vengeance and Superman misses out on an childhood instilled with honest farm-boy values. Instead, their new ‘parents’ bring them up to respect, enjoy and make the most of the power they hold over the world.
Loeb takes us on a journey through a range of time warps, flexing his imaginative muscles as he goes: here’s Uncle Sam taking on the mantle of the Green Lantern; there’s Batman, travelling through time to arrive at the scene of his parents death to avenge them himself. An interesting enough set of dramatic dioramas, but not so stunning that they’re enough to create a good story in themselves.
The artwork is bold and colourful, but a little more traditional and unexciting than previous volumes. It’s solid enough but, much like the plot, leaves us shrugging our shoulders and wondering what the point is.
Loeb’s work is derivative but immaculately researched and planned, pulling on influences from across the DC Comics universe. And while it’s far from essential reading, fans will doubtless thrill at the alternative natures of the main characters when put through this string of alternate historical contexts. We just can’t help thinking that if you really want to see characters that are so very different, why not just create some new ones? Who knows, someone might even come up with the next Superman or Batman, rather than continually flogging these well-worn horses without actually taking them anywhere.
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