Review: Batman vs. Superman: The Greatest Battles

Writers: Jeph Loeb, John Byrne, Joe & Jack Kelly, Geoff Johns, Scott Snyder, Frank Miller

Artists: Jim Lee, John Byrne, Ed Benes, Greg Capullo, Frank Miller

Collects Batman #612, Man of Steel #3, Superman/Batman #78, Justice League #2, Batman #35-36, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #4

With the March 25 release of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice looming, several trade paperbacks have dropped in recent weeks that happen to coincide with the film’s marketing campaign. Some are collections of ongoing series that have found serendipitous releases and have been reviewed here, but the focus of today’s review is obviously much more deliberate.

It’s important to stress that this is not an adaptation of the upcoming film, but rather a compilation of some of Batman and Superman’s greatest battles, hence the book’s title. Sure, their legendary friendship is on display, although the attraction here is seeing those instances when the two titans come to fisticuffs. It also certainly doesn’t hurt that the works included happen to be written and illustrated by some of the finest comic book creators to ever touch my two favorite fictional characters.

The book opens with “The Battle” from Hush, which happens to be everything I think a fight between Batman and Superman should be. The characters are perfectly written (thanks to Jeph Loeb), the action is over the top, and Batman doesn’t decisively defeat Superman – he uses his intellect and resources to stall him. With the Man of Steel being under Poison Ivy’s control, Batman and Catwoman appeal to his human side and force him to be the boy scout. I love that they remain friends and there is no definitive winner. The chapters of Endgame that are included are somewhat similar to the aforementioned events, only the Joker is controlling Superman and other members of the Justice League. Again, the battle is a draw.

There are a few other good tales to be found such as one from John Byrne, which is actually much more of a team-up that sees Batman outwit Superman, and a humorous story involving two kids arguing about which superhero would come out on top. They actually hit all the familiar beats of countless fanboy debates and, again, nobody wins.

The final entry is that of “The Dark Knight Falls,” which we all know serves as the basis of the upcoming movie. You couldn’t do a book like this without including the definitive story that shows just how Batman can score a decisive win – find a writer who has a strong bias against Superman.

Call me a traitor, but I consider myself a realist. Batman is my favorite character. I just happen to be of the school of thought that with no matter what amount of prep time goes into a situation, it’s kind of hard to definitively defeat someone with godlike powers. Flame me in the comments section all you want, but I think these guys will come to a draw every time.

I’m reasonably certain that some of the issues included in this collection are curtailed to spotlight some of the battles. Regardless, this is a really good compilation that casual and hardcore fans should pick up while we countdown the days until March 25.

 

 

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