Superman/Batman Annual #1 (December, 2006)
“Stop me if you’ve heard this one…”
Joe Kelly – Story
Ed McGuinness, Ryan Ottley, Sean Murphy, Carlo Barberi – Pencils
Dexter Vines, Cliff Rathburn, Sean Murphy, Don Hillsman II, Bob Petrecca, Andy Owens, Rodney Ramos – Inks
Guy Major – Colors
Rob Leigh – Letters
Jeanine Schaeffer – Asst. Editor
Eddie Berganza – Editor
Cover Price: $3.99
“Hey you ever read that issue of Superman/Batman that had Deadpool in it?” said the guy behind the counter at one of my local comics haunts sometime in 2009.
“the hell are you talking ’bout?” was my reply, head wrinkled, eyebrow cocked (though “hell” may be the PG version of what I had actually said).
During the mid-2000’s I found myself with a very serious debilitation, it was one so heinous and extreme that I would find myself violently ill, and cursing the fact that I’d even woke up each day… I had… a mortgage. It was almost a full-blown case of adulthood, for which there is no cure. Well, at least not a socially acceptable one. That having been said, I trimmed much of my perceived “comic book fat” from my weekly hauls… dropping from about $50 a week to about $50 for an entire month. I had to make many difficult decisions in regards to my pull list, and one of the books I found myself dropping was Superman/Batman.
Don’t get me wrong, it was an enjoyable book. Ed McGuinness’ art is never a let-down for me, and contrary to what the current fashionable internet hive-speak is in regard to Jeph Loeb, there’s very little of his work that I don’t like. Superman/Batman started out big and bombastic, it was like reading a summer blockbuster cartoon in comic book form, if that makes any sense. It was just a book that, when push came to shove (and it did) that I could drop without feeling too many pangs of collector-guilt.
I have since revisited the series, finding it a fun romp through the latter part of the post-Crisis/pre-Flashpoint DC Universe, and almost a sanctuary from some of the ultra-violent, ultra-serious books of The New 52!. This issue is a perfect example of such a romp, and it’s got Deadpo… er, Deathstroke the Terminator’s Earth-3 counterpart in it to boot! I figure to commemorate the opening of the Deadpool live-action movie, I figure it would be a good time to revisit some-guy’s lone sorta-kinda DC Universe appearance…
Billed as a Re-Imaginary story, Superman/Batman Annual #1 takes us back to a time where Superman and Batman did not know each other’s secret identities. They work together as partners from time to time, and seemed to view their attempts to discover each other’s secret ID’s as something of a game or contest.
The two, in their civilian form, find themselves aboard the same cruise to the Bermuda Circle, Lois Lane in tow only to find that the ship had accidentally booked Clark and Bruce into the same cabin. The dynamics between Clark and Bruce here is something that absolutely must be read. Bruce is 100% billionaire playboy jerk, and Clark is 100% mild-mannered. They clash upon check-in, and their conflict only intensifies from there.
During dinner, Lois (who at this point does not know the secret ID, and is wildly curious) and Clark are sharing a dance. Clark timidly asks if he can share her cabin, rather than stay with Wayne. Bruce then cuts in, much to Clark’s chagrin, swooping Lois to his table for them to dine.
While all of this is going on, Deathstroke the Terminator is preparing to make an attempt on Bruce Wayne’s life. He was hired in the opening pages, and I believe this is written to be his first “costumed” outing.
Bruce and Clark retire to their room for the night, where the attempt is made. A dart is fired, and bounces off Clark’s neck. Batman and Superman put two and two together, and come to the realization of just who they are sharing a room with.
Suddenly Deadpo– er, some guy barges in to save Bruce Wayne’s life, just before he can say his name, he is shot multiple times in the chest. I am assuming this is intended as Deathstroke’s Earth-3 counterpart, due to some characters that show up in a few pages. He is very clearly intended to be… well, another Wilson, who’s first name rhymes with “Slade”.
Okay, screw it… joke ain’t funny anymore (if it ever really was) It’s clearly intended to be Deadpool. Writer, Joe Kelly and artist, Ed McGuinness were the creative team for the first bit of Deadpool’s first ongoing series in the late 1990’s (highly recommended, by the way, and has been collected in an Omnibus), and have rekindled a bit of that magic in this here issue of Superman/Batman.
Lois notices the silhouettes of Superman and Batman on deck, and begins to make some connections herself in regard to their secret identities. She is shocked to find that she wasn’t seeing Superman and Batman… she was seeing Ultraman and Owlman of the Crime Syndicate! She is taken hostage, and is kissed by Owlman, who is surprised to find out that this Lois Lane is not Superwoman.
Meanwhile, Superwoman is below deck fighting with “our” Bruce Wayne. With lasso tied around his neck, and little hope of survival… Wayne is saved, once again by Deadpool! Right before ‘pool can introduce himself, he is stabbed through the head by Deathstroke. This being Deadpool, he naturally does not die.
The Bruce Waynes fight, and Lois overhears some discussion that tips her off to Owlman’s (and by proxy, Batman’s) secret identity. Just before she can verbalize it, Bruce (our Bruce) gives her a nerve pinch, and puts her to sleep. Owlman is about to shoot Bruce, when he is once again saved… by Deadpool. Bruce is able to escape, jumping overboard to a Bat-Submarine he had placed down below. ‘Pool is again about to say his name, when Superwoman breaks his neck.
The World’s Finest team fights their Earth-3 counterparts, while Deadpool narrates. It is all very entertaining, and wildly overblown. Thanagarians and Blackhawks in a beak-on-beak dance, Ambush Bug beating Darkseid in a game of chess, even Green Lantern, Mogo (who was not usually brought up during this time) gets a mention. The ending of the battle is a bit out there, and concerns a space-time rift. Ultimately, the Earth-3ers are sent home, and the day is saved. Our mystery man gets one more opportunity to introduce himself just as he’s about to blink out. As far as we now know, his name is “Deaaaaaa–“
As we close, Lois is just about to confront Superman and Batman on their secret identities. Before she can, Clark undressed them both at super speed, and redressed them in their civilian clothing. Their secrets are safe, for now… plus Clark was able to get one last dig in at Bruce, saying he had found him “cowering in his closet”.
The final page shows who took out the contract on Bruce Wayne. It was Mr. Mxyzptlk and a Bizarro Editor.
Insanely fun issue. Definitely recommended. Books this fun are a rarity, especially of those published since the turn of the century. The writing is actually funny, which, it being Joe Kelly should be no surprise. The art, fluctuates from fantastic to passable. There are four pencillers on this over-sized annual, and for the most part there is consistency… there are, however, a few more staggering pages to behold. The only thing that would have made this issue better (beside having Ed McGuinness draw the entire thing) would have been the addition of colorized word balloons for the Deadpool-alike. In his Marvel books, ‘pool has yellow dialogue balloons. Perhaps that would have been a bit too on the nose for a DC publication to include, however, I don’t think it would have caused all that much harm (but what do I know?).
Mile High Comics has this issue listed at $12.00 for a near-mint copy (though, there are none in stock). This appears to be the going rate for hard-copy online. Comixology is offering the digital version for $2.99. If digital is your thing, this is well worth a purchase*.
|Was never financially secure enough to “invest” in Legos, though
I suppose the Lego Batman video games were pretty fun (at first).
I had forgotten about these “Secret Files and Origins” pages
UPDATE 5/7/2023 – “Remastered” for WordPress!