SUPERMAN versus BATMAN
Book One (DC comics)
Where: The Dark Knight Strikes Again #1 When: November 2001
Why: Frank Miller How: Frank Miller
The story so far...
After faking his own death, Bruce Wayne goes underground to train the army of SOBs who joined him after abandoning their Mutant leader to rally to his cause. With the aid of his new ward Carrie Kelly he makes this possible.
Using his personal army to break free some of his more willing peers from the past, Batman assembles a team that includes powerhouses in their respective fields including The Flash and The Atom, and prepares to go to war against the world.
In a world where superheroes are slowly beginning to again penetrate the shutdown public consciousness; Batman is bringing heroism back in a big way, and not a minute too soon. With threats from Lex Luthor and Brainiac lurking on the horizon, he'll need to have all his tools and freedoms at the ready. But what of the Superman? Where does he stand?...
Superman (#6): Superman has victories over heroes like Wonder Woman, Uncle Sam & Hulk.
Batman (#2): Batman has a two-to-zip victory rate over Superman.
Tale of the tape...
Strength: Superman 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Batman 5 (Professor)
Speed: Superman 6 (Sound Speed)
Stamina: Superman 6 (Generator)
Agility: Batman 4 (Gymnast)
Fighting Ability: Batman 5 (Martial Artist)
Energy Powers: Superman 5 (Lasers)
We've featured Superman/Batman fights twice previously on Secret Earths [Dark Knight Returns #4, Batman #612], and you have to wonder if there's really much left to say about these two going head to head.
This modern era has provided the World's Finest with one of the most compelling relationships, turning what was once a kindred friendship, and turning it into a begrudging, tense alliance. It's this chemistry that has made those previous entries two of the most popular even today, and that was back when entries ran a lot less deep, too! Heck, we barely even had pictures on the site back then!
Actually, the title here is a bit misleading.
By this time Batman has assembled a team of Justice Leaguers to aid him in his mission against the dystopian world presented in the Dark Knight books, and they seem all too pleased to help in the whipping of big boy blue.
It might have something to do with the fact that he let them get captured and tortured, but hey. Who's counting? At least he doesn't have a prat moustache like Stark!
Joining the Batman is Green Arrow, who aided him in his last encounter with Superman; as well as Silver Age versions of the Atom (Ray Palmer) and the Flash (Barry Allen).
When you factor those guys into the equation, Superman's four-to-three tape stats actually dwindle down to giving him only an edge in strength, as none of these other heroes have any real measure of super strength.
For Superman the keys to victory would come down to blunt force trauma. He would have to hit hard and fast, and throw everything he's got at these guys if he were to have any shot. Unfortunately, even in this grim future, Superman's still the type to ring the doorbell, so his chances aren't looking very good.
Batman built his house on planning, and his plans are ready and waiting for the day Superman comes to find him in his cave, knowing full well that he never truly died. With the Flash, Atom and GA at his side, and a collection fo synthetic and effective kryptonite, yeah. Let's hear it for the boy.
The Math: Batman (Total) / Superman (Average)
The Pick: Batman
What went down...
With a glowing red hatred in his eyes, Superman thunders down from the space station he's been relegated to by the puppeteers that control America.
He comes back down to Earth for a little chat with the man who's doing what he didn't feel he could, and he's pissed. The sonic boom of his reentry and speeding trajectory shatter windows across Gotham City. Such disregard is uncharacteristic.
By the time he's pound his way into the cave, The Batman and his team are ready and waiting. The split penny isn't much concern, but the giant dinosaur springs to life to greet the visitor from the stars. Bat says his name is Fido.
Superman slips through it's skull like it were an illusion, landing into a nightmare. A robotic Bizarro #12 leaps at the Kryptonian with the rabid enthusiasm of a crazed fan. It says he's his biggest.
Superman signs his head with his fist, and knocks his block off. The Bizarro grins sheepishly, revelling in it's destruction as it's head bobs upside down at the end of a coiled spring of a neck.
Now things get serious.
Allen slips onto the seen so fast he's there before anyone knows it. As his presence registers in Superman's alien brain, the thipping of explosive discs has already given way to their placement all over his super durable body.
They know he can take it. He's stronger than the pounding surf.
The massive amount of explosions do well to shake the man of steel.
Batman's disembodied voice rings through the cave, mocking him with bitter truths. Kal-El's birthgiven powers made him stupid. Batman is smart. Strategic.
"Pardon me while I drop ninety tons of planet Earth on you."
As chunks of rubble spray through the tiny space, Oliver Queen calls the Superman out. Sporting a brand new cybernetic arm (to replace the one Superman cost him), he cocks his bow with a bulky kryptonite arrow and spies his emerging target. Deja Vu.
The Superman sees it coming and heads it off with heat vision, but that only detonates the Kryptonite napalm head of it. All part of the act. He was always the straight man. For all his powers, he never had any real imagination. No creativity.
Reduced considerably by the radioactive remains of his home, it's Atom's turn this time.
Palmer emerges from the shadows and shrinks to a diminutive size and he launches himself through the air at relative dimensions to leaping a tall building.
He sneaks in to the fallen Superman's ear.
"Having a very little man bounding about your inner ear works hell on your equilibrium, doesn't it? I'd feel sorry for you, but I don't."
Palmer ignores Batman's facetious request to take it easy on the boyscout. "The man's having a bad day."
Feeble and defeated the great Superman plants his face into the dirt.
Batman calls off his little helper. He's ready to step into the light.
All sixty years of him.
"Bruce-- I just want to talk..."
Batman answers with his fists.
Giant green fists wrapped in Kryptonite gloves.
He knocks Superman off the ground with a left, and then swats him with a right.
He makes a crater with his face, pounding his head into the ground.
He doesn't stop until he hears a crunch.
"I'm done talking."
"Get out of my cave."
The winner and still champion, Batman!
Due to their vital role in the victory, the other heroes may as well be counted for full victories too. If you're playing along at home, remember to scratch that in.
Y'know, this book [and series] is a bit like when they inject radioactive goop into you, to follow it through the bloodstream, and highlight certain areas during an internal scan. Only, this is radioactive goop for the internet as a working life system of trends, herd mentalities and a desire for unique opinions in counter culture.
Despite reading comics for roughly twenty years, I fully submit the fact that I did so in a vaccum. It wasn't really until the beginning of this decade that I made any real connection with other comics fans, and that was only through the internet. This was a medium I was introduced to as a child, and have arrived at through my own means. So, many must read titles to this day remain unseen by my peepers, and I like to think that makes me some kind of impartial.
A book like All-Star Batman & Robin, which has suffered heavy criticism and consistent trashing online could fool you into thinking the machine of internet fanboys is all about the negative. Which is why I highlight DK2 as a great radioactive indicator, because in my experience, it's gone from being quite loathed, to becoming geek-chic.
Unlike an ASB&R, which I don't think will ever escape the quagmire of criticism, and probably partially because it's justified, DK2 was able to escape the clutches of the perpetuated opinion to start finding pockets of resistence. Which in turn seems to had gradually crated an reverse wave that's making it cool again.
For me, as I said, I didn't read DKR until only fairly recently.
I didn't have fifteen years to ponder the prospects of a Dark Knigt Returns sequel. I read them in succession, and so, from my perspective, this just read like the next logical step in what was a really enjoyable take on Batman.
In some ways I read with a naivety, being surrounded by an industry that was already well into the swing of benefitting from this take on the character.
For me, I read it, and almost acknowledge with bemusement that, yes. This is approximately what I want to see from a Batman story. It's context allows it greater lengths, but yes. Why wouldn't Batman slap Superman silly? That's what Batman does.
I'm simplifying, but my roundabout point is that perhaps somewhere along the lines the longterm fans got carried away with anticipation for DK2, and when it came it couldn't possibly live up to that hype. And with the glory of the internet, their gospel was carried across the information superhighway to be absorbed by the sponge-like masses of newer readers unconfident with their placement in a medium three or four times old as they.
Not that I mean to paint a picture of myself as anti-internet.
The irony of that would not be lost even on I who have not yet read Watchmen.
I just think it's very interesting the way the mass exchange of opinion has helped shape this current visage of an industry. Interesting that a new reader absorbs basic knowledge of this life like a newborn from sources like message boards and Wikipedia, and instantly learns these opinions as fact.
'DC is just capes. You must relate to characters. Only Marvel has relatable characters' is somehow dwarfed by the progressive life lessons of things like, 'smoking causes lung cancer' and 'unsafe sex leads to mortgages and assault charges'.
And if you're just joining us to see Batman punch Superman with a novelty sized boxing glove. Hey, it's Frank Miller! If you don't read the Hollywood Press online, when it's Miller, it's got to be about big issues!
Oh, the parody!
The Fight: 7 The Issue: 7