Monday, September 5, 2011

Superman/Batman: Big Noise (Review)

Citizen's Grade: O.K.

The tenth collection of the Superman/Batman series.  This series has impressed over time despite no promotion from DC Comics since Jeph Loeb left.  The artwork and writing have always been at least O.K., and on some occasions quite impressive.

Big Noise was written by Joe Casey (known most recently for writing Ziggy Marley's superhero,  Marijuana Man), with artwork from Ardian Syaf & Scott Kolins. This veteran group of creators deliver a "veteran" story in Big Noise (I'll explain "veteran" story further down).

A Kryptonian Ship appears out of nowhere with all it's inhabitants murdered.  A missing escape pod. As Batman & Superman investigate the ship's past and try to track down the one missing escape pod, an assassin attacks the Dailey Planet in an attempt to murder reporter Clark Kent.  These are the clues to the mystery that lays before The Man of Steel and The Dark Knight.

A war from Krypton's long-forgotten past comes back to haunt it's last son....and his adopted planet! A warrior thrown through time is determined to accomplish his mission of eliminating all surviving Kryptonians. The battle is to the death.....and anyone who gets in his way shall perish as well ("anyone" would be Batman, btw).

Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne meets the mysterious and reclusive Anderson Gaines.....a very enigmatic and wealthy man.  Something doesn't make sense about him though, and Batman's instincts are never wrong

Now Superman and Batman must finish a war that Krypton's past has started and Earth's future depends on! Will The Dark Knight and The Man of Steel prevail, or will Krypton's past destroy Earth's future?

A "veteran" story sums up this story arc.  What do I mean? I've noticed over the years when a title isn't selling great, or they've just run out of ideas on what to do....DC or Marvel will bring in veteran writers & artists to do a few story arcs (the other options being a veteran writer with a "rookie" artist, or a "rookie" writer with a veteran artist), in effect giving up on that title.  Don't believe me?  After the Casey/Syaf/Kolins team comes Levitz/Ordway, then some "no names"....then Superman/Batman is cancelled.  Another Example? Waid & (at the time unknown) Manapul on The Flash before it was cancelled. Another Example? Kreisberg, Norton, & (legendary) Bill Sienkiewicz on Green Arrow/Black Canary before it was cancelled.

I'm not saying it's wrong, just an observation.  What else can they do? If a title is not selling, why not take a chance? Do some "veteran" stories to see if fans of said writer/artist will up the numbers, or a "rookie" story with a chance of revealing a rising star (Scott Snyder in Detective Comics is a recent example).  Steal away some Independent writers or go different directions with artwork in the hopes of finding some fans (Ladronn from Image Comic's Elephantmen doing covers for Green Arrow/Black Canary or Incredible Hulk for example)......and if all that fails: cancel, reboot and try it all again.

Along with the "veteran" story arc, the other thing that worried me about the Superman/Batman title was that they released the Graphic Novel straight to trade-paperback.  The previous nine volumes were released as Hardcovers first.....another "sign" of impending cancellation.  The majority of titles usually have the first 2-3 volumes released in Hardcover, then if sales fall off all subsequent graphic novel releases go straight to trade-paperback.  Superman/Batman had a long history of Hardcover when Big Noise (and the next release Worship) went straight to paperback....along with no promotion, and veteran teams on writing/art.....those are nails in the coffin, so to speak.  DC had given up on this title way back in 2008, but it just kept selling so they kept putting out stories. It was almost as though they were trying to get it cancelled, since it appeared they kept replacing writers & artists anytime numbers looked like they were holding for too long. 

Overall Big Noise is a decent story with maybe a little too much dialogue. If you are a completist (like I am) and you already have the previous 9 volumes of Superman/Batman....then buy it!  If not, then you may wish to pass on this one.

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