Thursday, October 7, 2010

Superman/Batman: Torment (Review)

Citizen's Grade: O.K.

What seems to start out as a simple burglary of a Lex Corp facility by Killer Croc, turns into a universe-spanning mystery for the Man of Steel & the Dark Knight.

As Batman investigates Killer Croc, and the item stolen from Lex Luther, Superman begins having dreams & visions that he can't control. Unable to tell fiction from reality, Superman falls prey to an unexpected villain....Scarecrow. Just as Batman figures this out, he realizes that he may be too late, the item stolen from Luther is made to control even Kryptonian minds. A mysterious benefactor is behind the scenes directing Scarecrow and others, and Superman is their target.

Batman catches Scarecrow trying to clean up the evidence after Superman disappears, and follows him via "boomtube" to Tartaros, a planet built for war. There Batman discovers that it is Desaad; servent of Darkseid, who is behind Superman's abduction. But Batman is too late, as Superman is now completely under the control of Desaad & Darkseid. Just as it seems Superman will kill Batman, an unseen rescuer whisks Batman away to safety & healing.

Bekka; wife of Orion & daughter-in-law of Darkseid...a new-god herself, rescues Batman and helps in his speedy healing. She is on Tartaros because she cannot escape, Darkseid has put up an inhibitor keeping anyone from leaving. Using technology from New Genesis, Bekka is able to make herself & Batman invisible to Darkseid's Parademons. They go to work formulating a plan to stop Desaad & save Superman, but they feel themselves uncontrollably drawn to one another. Bekka's powers include uncontrollable passion, and Batman must use all of his will to control his urges toward the married new-god.

Meanwhile, Desaad sends Superman to the Source Wall to retrieve the staff of the now deceased Highfather, in order to help Darkseid regain his secretly lost "Omega" powers. Only someone as powerful as Superman can find & remove the Staff from the Source Wall without being taken by the wall to suffer in agony forever. Superman retrieves the staff and Desaad decides to test the staff's power by sending Superman to the Source itself!

As Darkseid and Desaad prepare for the power of the Omega, Bekka & Batman find themselves less & less able to control themselves....but are jolted back to reality by the staff's power in Desaad's hands. As Desaad feels the power of the Source stream through him, he suddenly doesn't want to give the Omega Powers to Darkseid...but keep them for himself. He looks into the abyss of the end, but is terrified by what he sees and looses control, which Darkseid quickly seizes.

Just then, Batman & Bekka burst onto the scene and in the ensuing malay, Batman takes hold of the staff which brings Superman back from the Source! With Superman's returned sanity, they quickly turn the tables on Darkseid. Darkseid escapes through his newly returned Omega Powers, and Superman, Batman, & Bekka return to Earth via Boomtube just as Tartaros crashes into and becomes part of the Source Wall.

Torment is the sixth volume of the Superman/Batman series, written by Alan Burnett, with artwork by Dustin Nguyen. I've never been a fan of Burnett, but he does o.k. with this story. Nguyen is he regular self, producing good art like he does in Batman: Streets of Gotham. I've yet to understand why there has been such a sales drop in the Superman/Batman series....though not as explosive as the Jeph Loeb run, the volumes put out since then have good stories & art, and are worth purchasing even if they don't carry that "big" name writer.

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