If there’s an overused word in discussing comics right now, it’s ‘fun.’ Any light comic that doesn’t feature superheroes raping nuns while blinding old people and smothering babies is ‘fun.’ I’ve certainly been guilty of this practice, so why not be guilty another time? “Superman/Batman” #80 is a fun comic. I had fun reading it and it seems like Chris Roberson and Jesus Merino had fun making it. It’s a joyful, goofy issue that glories in the legacies of Superman and Batman, in that idea that good will always win, and that there will always be the World’s Finest to ensure that. But, you know, told in a fun way.
Epoch, fresh off his out-smarting of the Superman and Batman of the 853rd century, arrives in the 20th century to take on Superman, Batman, and Robin (Dick Grayson). There’s a slightly campy nature to the heroes as they take on the Lord of Time, finding themselves trapped in the Omega Barrier, a box with walls, basically, made out of black holes. Watching the two sets of the World’s Finest, one in the 853rd and the other in the 20th century, thinking their way out of Epoch’s traps is very entertaining as Roberson makes sure to write the scenes with a lot of energy and enthusiasm, the heroes thinking out loud, and showing that they’re more than just a bunch of muscles. More than that, it’s definitely refreshing to see Superman (both Supermen, actually!) think (or even outthink) Batman. I can’t remember the last time that happened in a comic that I read.
The high point of the issue is a two-page layout where Epoch travels further through time, encountering different versions of the World’s Finest as Roberson takes a Superman or Batman we know and invents his counterpoint for that time period. You get fun ideas like the Batsman of the 46th century or Kent Shakespeare in the 31st century. It’s a sequence that seems very Morrisonian and has me wanting to see some of these ideas/pairing expanded upon in the future.
Jesus Merino does an able job keeping up with Roberson, but has a rougher finish to his art than this story would warrant. His art doesn’t have the wacky, light feel to it that the scenes with Superman, Batman, and Robin need entirely. It holds things back a little. He recovers nicely for the two-page sequence I mentioned above. His Damian Wayne version of Batman looks really good and his posing of the Unknown Superman of the 46th century is inventive. His style isn’t one that immediately meshes with the tone Roberson is going for, but Merino definitely makes an effort and it shows.
“Superman/Batman” #80 is a fun, entertaining comic, and one that has me convinced that Roberson’s “Superman” is worth a look. He demonstrates a clear handle not just on the characters, but their broader ideals and shows an affection for them that comes through, making the comic better.