Superman/Batman #68, Superman: World of New Krypton #11

Posted by on February 9th, 2010 at 10:00 AM

Superman/Batman #68
Written by Joe Casey, art by Ardian Syaf and Vicente Cifuentes & David Enebral (inks), color by Ulises Arreola



The art here does not excel at showing people as they are. Look at a few pages and you enter the land of paralyzed shovel faces. Everyone has a jaw that’s reaching for their elbow, or a brow like a prairie, or possibly both. The tiny portion of the face given over to expression, the area around the mouth, becomes vestigial, a place where a membrane is tucked. This membrane must perform the duties expected of a human face, but a lot of times it just lies there.

Some of the art’s incidental detail is nice. Wayne Manor is like a miniature Gormenghast; even the molding of the hands on the next page isn’t bad. But all the humans are big slabs, boxcars with faces like rock grapefruit. The first-thought explanation is that being standard and boring is part of the superhero atmosphere. All these decades of fiddling about with motivation and “real” personalities, and Batman and Superman can still be represented by a pair of chests and big shoulders doing Batman and Superman things. Why not draw them like slabs, and also everybody standing in range of them? But it may be that the artist simply doesn’t like this particular story or isn’t in tune with stories in general. The art indicates a knack for not finding the panel-to-panel movement in a sequence. He’s a pin-up guy, and he screws with place and story value for the sake of shoving his pin-ups more directly at the reader. Maybe this is all according to plan. “Knock yourself out,” the writer may say in his page description for the fireball explosion at the Daily Planet.



Superman: World of New Krypton #11
Written by James Robinson and Greg Rucka, art by Pete Woods and Ron Randall, color by Nei Ruffino and Blond

Krypton’s architecture is a sight, a nice effort. Like the Batcave machinery in Superman/Batman, the buildings have soft contours, more flat disks than the spires found in the classic version.

Chiefly, with architecture and decor, the artist conserves energy, puts in a decent show on decor by sticking to a streamlined approach that fills out the panel with multiple rings and long lines, as opposed to more labor-intensive sort of detail. The book’s art gives it a tranquil air, and then the crash-dummy characters stationed about make it chilly, turn the atmosphere uncanny. These people aren’t even box cars, they’re modules who are stationed in each others’ presence. One of them blows up — I suppose you could say she was shot, but cause and effect seem so remote in this context — and she’s pinned to a great cloud of individually placed glass fragments, fragments that largely resemble each other in basic design. So, first, you’re dealing with the typical cold-bloodedness of hack writing: If someone in a skirt is standing around, pop her to get things rolling, and do so especially if she’s in front of a window. Then there’s this: The person in question looks like a party doll, one making a dreadful sacrifice for the needs of storytelling. Then, on top of all that, you have the uncanny glass fragments, the Photoshop chill.

Adam Strange is around, dressed the way he was 50 years back; he fits in well enough with the present-day Krypton decor. The issue’s cover, by Gary Frank, suggests that Warner Communications has some kind of long-term content-supply arrangement with Superdickery. Decades from now, somebody will post the cover with a caption like “Adam Strange: ‘I am glad I have buttocks!’ Superman: ‘I am more glad you have buttocks!'”

Actual dialogue: “That was bad timing more than anything else. The Labor Guild doesn’t have much reason to trust us right now.” There’s a lot like that.



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