In this film, two heroes meet in a battle to the death. In the comics, the relationship is usually more friendly, as the two have collaborated for a long time as part of the Justice League, where they have a mixed relationship of distrust but always respect.

There’s also a battle in the book store, with various new works dedicated to each hero, and even a Batman/Superman series in two volumes, which has been really successful. An anthology of four mini series (two per volume) accented with short stories, they enjoy the exceptional scripts of Jeph Loeb, author of two of the most appreciated sagas by Batman fans: The Long Halloween and Hush. In this recent series (2005), the sworn enemy of the Man of Steel: Lex Luthor has become President of the United States, and has turned other superheroes against Batman and Superman, who become de facto public enemies. These adventures are even more interesting as they place the two heroes as the opposite sides of the same coin: Superman, a sun hero and optimist, is the perfect foil to the shadowy and tortured Batman, a pessimist and outright moon character.

This opposition has often been the driving force for their joint adventures, and Jim Lee imagines each of the two heroes finding their strength in the qualities of the other. "Despite all the tragedies in his life, he never gives up. And if he can do his work, what do I have to complain about?" asks Superman of Batman, who responds: "I think of Superman, and although he can be seen as naive, he is a solid defender of good. I’ll be damned if I let him fall."

In the second volume, Batman and Superman see their image reversed in scripts exploring their respective mythologies, firstly through parallel worlds (including one where they use their powers to oppress the population) and a world where they multiply their avatars using magic. Two ways of twisting the original DC universe to build meta-textual stories with talent. These two comics are unmissable for any comic fan.

 

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uperman is also honoured here with three major comics. Firstly Superman Doomed . This 540 page work is a crossover involving all the new series dedicated to Superman since the new DC Comics universe in 2011. No less than 26 artists, 4 scriptwriters and 14 colourists and inkers were involved in the massive project. Batman and Wonderwoman also appear in the story that involves Doomsday, the villain of Snyder’s film. But the real villain of the story is Superman, infected by Doomsday after having killed him, which transforms him into a similar monster.

The comic only partially succeeded due to the feeling of ‘too much’: too many crossovers, too many points of view, all too dense and complicated. A frequent finding in the entertainment industry as Americans try to create an “event”. However, Superman Doomed will surely please fans due to the various interpretations of Superman, through the participation of some of the best contemporary comic artists.

Another new work: Superman Unchained, written by the very popular Scott Snyder, who has both fans and critics. The series was initially published in 2013 when Zach Snyder offered Man of Steel in the cinema, his first interpretation of Superman. The artist is Jim Lee, a current star at DC Comics, which in itself is a sign of the importance given to this series, which is also available in a magnificent black and white version. The comic is aimed more at fans of the character, with one hundred bonus pages which are drawings of the hero revisiting the graphic styles from the golden age until now. Magnificent.

Regarding the story of Superman Unchained, it is quite successful (but far from the Batman comics written by the author) and it makes us regret that Zach Snyder did not have this material available for his film Man of Steel. Without revealing too much, we learn that the American army, suspicious of Superman, has created a greater warrior alter ego: Wraith. During a terrorist attack, two visions of the world are going to collide regarding the response to be made. The metaphor for the American involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan is very clear.

We also note the release of The Final Days of Superman, which associates Alan Moore (author of Killing Joke, and his first foray into the Superman universe) and Dave Gibbons the artist for Watchmen. I did not have the work in my hands, but on paper it is very attractive.


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Images: TM & © 2016 DC Comics. All Rights Reserved

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Batman is as popular on the book shelves as his alter ego. Firstly because the classic but unavailable comic by Frank Miller The Dark Night Strikes Again, has been republished.. It’s not the best Batman comic, and not even Miller’s best, but it is significant in the editorial history of the superhero. More interesting: the next event: Dark Knight III, still in publication in the US, is proposed in an comic compiling only the first two sections (out of a total of eight announced) plus a bonus episode about Wonder Woman.

The question is knowing whether Miller, who literally reinvented the character and allowed Batman to remain relevant and modern until today (with the unmissable Year One then The Dark Knight Returns) still has something to say, exciting fans since the announcement of his direct follow-up to The Dark Knight Strikes Again. The result? It is first surprising as Miller's artwork is hardly recognisable.

It is frustrating then, as it is impossible to take an interest on the return of the master with these two short episodes which are just a taster. The participation of Frank Miller is also called into question: he only illustrates one episode and is supported for the entire series by a co-writer (the amazing Brian Azzarello) which implies a relatively minor involvement by an author whose best titles have been drawn and written alone. The future will clarify the quality of a mini-series, the quality of which is still difficult to ascertain.

A final new work is also a superb piece: Batman Black & White is an anthology of short stories dedicated to the bat man. The list of involved authors and illustrators is incredible: Alex Ross, Tim Sale, Jim Lee, Neil Gaiman, Katushiro Otomo, Neil Gaiman, Paul Pope, Bruce Timm, Mike Mignolia, Liberatore, José Munoz, and so many others... These episodes initially published in three series in 1996, 2000 and 2002 are often exceptional. But even if the collection is uneven - as always with this type of initiative - the drawing for all the stories is a treat. There are comic authors, but also others who are complete outsiders and are the main editorial interest of this work.

Also surprising: very few stories use super-villains, instead preferring to use ordinary bandits and highly realistic and modern subjects. Few fantastical elements then, and for the better. We just regret that the episode illustrated by Moebius I am not Batman (not published in France) was not added to this project as a bonus: deemed too sexual by its American publisher, it was “forgotten” by its French counterpart.

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Let’s conclude on this battle - which is a draw. In the battle of the book stores, it’s equal: the series to buy now is Superman/Batman. A single Batman new work is really unmissable, whilst Superman is honoured with event comics which are slightly disappointing but which fans will buy anyway. We therefore need to turn to the cinema to find a victor in the battle between Batman and Superman. Unless...

 

Post originally published on Huffington Post, reproduced with site and author permission.