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Following on from [personal profile] thelazyreader 's post about Superman's execution of the Phantom Zone criminals here, I thought this might be a timely post, courtesy of Karl Kesel and Peter Dogerty in Issue 7 of the 1999 World's Finest Maxi-series




The underlying thread of this series was that on one of the first missions they ever tackled together, Superman and Batman managed to NOT save the victim of a serial killer. They resolved to meet up on an annual basis on the anniversary of the death, to commemorate the man that they lost, and just to touch base about their lives.

The events each hero outlines were more or less contemporary, so this makes an interesting discussion.

Batman staggers back to the Batcave, bruised and bleeding for, as Alfred notes, the tenth night in a row, he then tells Bruce that he has a visitor...

This isn't going to be an easy conversation for either of them.





Ouch!

Superman won't let it lie there though, Alfred notes that Bruce can be incredibly stubborn, Superman notes that so can he.

He literally sweeps Batman off his feet and takes him to a place as unlike Gotham as he can imagine; Smallville.

From the top of the town hall, he points out the little things that make Smallville tick, the General Store where Clark got his first job, sweeping floors and stocking shelves, Pete Ross out for an early morning jog (a good friend and the nicest guy you'd hope to meet, might even make it to mayor someday), the local Doctor out on a call (Superman mentions that Sandra Mueller's baby is due any day and wonders if that might be what he's doing out so early), the High School where Clark had attended, and the local quarry where he'd almost kissed Lana Lang that time... Then they go to Pa Kent's land. As Clark puts it; "You fight AGAINST Joker, AGAINST Catwoman, AGAINST Two-Face, but this...."



Love that page, the scan doesn't do the colours justice.

Batman admits that this is genuinely very touching, but doesn't change his feelings. He understands that this is what Superman was protecting when he killed the Phantom Zone villains, that he's trying to make him understand and is, somehow, seeking absolution.





I love Batman's genuinely shocked expression in the first panel above, he's genuinely horrified that Superman might think that of him, and that he has to correct himself when listing the number of people who know him best (Alfred, Dick, Babs and Jason one assumes. Jim Gordon might need to be on that list, but he knows him only as Batman)

Superman tries to assure him that his training helped keep Robin and Batgirl alive longer than they would have been without him, because they WOULD have gotten involved in things, by nature of their natures.

And Superman does challenge him on the situation at the end of the Death in the Family. Batman jumped out of the helicopter before it exploded, but didn't try to save the Joker, was that a deliberate act because he didn't want the Joker to live? Batman sort of sidesteps the question, noting that HE barely escaped, if he'd tried to save Joker they'd BOTH have died for sure.

Superman then asks a hypothetical question. If Batman had one hand chained to a bomb that was about to detonate, and was holding on to the Joker's wrist, would he let go to allow the Joker to live, or would he choose to take them both down. Batman refuses to accept that those are the only options, there's ALWAYS another way.

Batman asks Superman a hypothetical in return, that if there were an unstoppable monster rampaging through the world, devastating everything in it's path, including Superman and the only way to stop it was to kill it, would he do so? Superman says yes, he'd kill it with his last breath. (Shades of a certain event in his future naturally)

They then discuss the dangers inherent in letting people into their lives. Batman notes that whilst the people in HIS life are on the frontlines of superheroing, Superman's friends; Lois, Jimmy and Perry etc are on the sidelines. Superman says that might change if he gets closer to Lois and wants to bring her into ALL of his life.





I could make any number of comments about hoping that Superman's interest in Lois is NOT reflected in Batman's interest in his Robin's, but bring your own subtext on that one.

Superman then hears a scream, and they discover that Doctor Waters has had a heart attack whilst trying to deliver Sarah Mueller's baby, and there's no one else around...



Not sure that a man recovering from a heart attack will want you looming over him either Batman, but never mind.

Superman safely delivers the baby, and it was only a mild heart attack, so to celebrate, Superman takes Bruce for some flapjacks at somewhere local...



And now for a panel I really rather love..



A nice life affirming moment there I think? It ends with Bruce acknowledging that yes, sometimes a time away somewhere unexpected allows a new perspective on things. So Pa Kent proposes a toast to "The little journeys and the grand detours".

Date: 2011-01-28 08:43 pm (UTC)
aaron_bourque: default (Default)
From: [personal profile] aaron_bourque
Ah, the best issue of that (unfortunately lackluster otherwise) series.

Date: 2011-01-28 08:59 pm (UTC)
shanejayell: (Default)
From: [personal profile] shanejayell
I find the idea of Bruce randomly dropping in on the Kents every now and then rather amusing. :)

Date: 2011-01-28 09:06 pm (UTC)
calvision: (tim drake red robin)
From: [personal profile] calvision
Sad Batman is sad. :( Well I like that you can actually see his expressions here, and feel them out, as normally with Batman's cowl it ends up looking either too stiff or too comically distorted when he makes any expression apart from '...'.

Date: 2011-01-28 09:12 pm (UTC)
btravage: (Default)
From: [personal profile] btravage
This is really well-drawn, if slightly generic, art.

Date: 2011-01-28 09:27 pm (UTC)
shadowpsykie: Information (Default)
From: [personal profile] shadowpsykie
Is anyone else reading this as Clark bringing his Boyfriend over to meet the parents? or is that just me and my overly pepsi-ed out brain?

Date: 2011-01-28 09:55 pm (UTC)
darkness_p: (hush)
From: [personal profile] darkness_p
I do! But I'm a little biased when it comes to these two.

Date: 2011-01-28 09:52 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] hexiva
Wait, do the Kents know Bruce is Batman? If not, why do they think Clark's bringing him home to meet them, and why do they think he needed to borrow clothes?

Date: 2011-01-28 10:04 pm (UTC)
starwolf_oakley: (Default)
From: [personal profile] starwolf_oakley
When I posted this on an earlier Scans_Daily board, I wondered if the Kents recognized Bruce Wayne or not. You could recognize Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, given their publicity and how they market their products. It's hard to tell if Bruce was ever that much of a news outlet aside from being photographed with beautiful famous women.

Date: 2011-01-29 10:16 am (UTC)
mistervader: (Default)
From: [personal profile] mistervader
Was just thinking about this, too, and it reminded me of the first Burton Batman film.

How could two reporters not have known who Bruce Wayne was?!? (Vicki Vale and the guy she was with.)

Date: 2011-01-29 12:14 pm (UTC)
wyldemusick: (Default)
From: [personal profile] wyldemusick
Alexander Knox was the other reporter.

Date: 2011-01-29 04:27 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
I'm guessing that at this point in their lives, the Kents are pretty used to entertaining strange company. They know that their son is a superhero, and he's brought enough strange guests home with him that by now, they can take it in stride.

Date: 2011-01-29 01:39 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] thelazyreader
I'm surprised I don't recognise Wayne as one of America's wealthiest men.

Date: 2011-01-29 01:43 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
Given that he usually only shows up in the society pages, it's not that weird. The Kents are an elderly couple living out in the sticks; there's no particular reason they'd recognize a jet-setting playboy. (Or, alternately, they DO recognize him and are politely pretending not to.)

Date: 2011-01-30 03:22 am (UTC)
feyandstrange: "Hebetudinous child. Someone should tell her that if you're going to MOCK me, you'll have to do a better job than that." (hebetudinous)
From: [personal profile] feyandstrange
At a guess, they don't know, may have guessed, but respect the heck out of his privacy. They also respect the heck out of their son's ability to judge people, and know he wouldn't bring home somebody without good reason - and that a lot of Clark's friends these days might need the little oasis of calm on the farm almost as much as Clark does, because of the things they do in their 'work clothes'. It may be Bruce's first visit, but I'll bet Supergirl or Diana or maybe some of the old guard on the Justice Society were there first. (Or the Legion, depending on your continuity.)

Date: 2011-01-29 12:13 am (UTC)
big_daddy_d: (Default)
From: [personal profile] big_daddy_d
He literally sweeps Batman off his feet and takes him to a place as unlike Gotham as he can imagine
Oh that could've been interpreted in so many ways.

Date: 2011-01-29 01:26 am (UTC)
bradhanon: (Serious editor)
From: [personal profile] bradhanon
"Do I smell flapjacks and bacon?"

No, you putz, that's a ham. And from the size, she must have put it in the oven last night for it to be done that early in the morning.

Who the hell roasts a ham that size for breakfast? This is past "old-fashioned farm cooking" and into "unhealthy compulsion".

Date: 2011-01-29 03:04 am (UTC)
dr_archeville: Doctor Arkeville (Default)
From: [personal profile] dr_archeville
Clark's always had a big appetite, she's used to cooking large amounts of food.

Alternatively (or additionally), now we know why Pa Kent had a heart attack.

Date: 2011-01-29 04:28 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
Given the picture, I would imagine that there are flapjacks, ham AND bacon on the menu.

Date: 2011-01-30 03:25 am (UTC)
feyandstrange: "Hebetudinous child. Someone should tell her that if you're going to MOCK me, you'll have to do a better job than that." (hebetudinous)
From: [personal profile] feyandstrange
If it's anything like what my grandparents used to do, that's last night's ham dinner getting reheated for breakfast, or possibly left in the oven on warm all night. Especially since it doesn't seem like Clark had dinner with them, two people won't go through a whole ham that quick.

Date: 2011-02-12 09:26 pm (UTC)
kaete: pixie (Default)
From: [personal profile] kaete
Slices of ham off the bone grilled for breakfast are AMAZING. Possibly better than having the ham for dinner. Oh god, now I am dying for mom's homecooked ham.

Date: 2011-01-29 04:33 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
Yeah, this is a nice look at the Bats/Supes relationship, and how they respectively handle these tough questions. It's telling that Bruce doesn't seem mad at Clark for the killing in and of itself, he's mad at what he sees as his hypocrisy.
Also, yeah, that 'Brutal? Merciless?' reaction is pretty telling. Bruce is genuinely hurt that people he respects could see him that way.

Date: 2011-01-29 01:40 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] thelazyreader
The best part is Batman acts nothing like the BatJerk he's been for the past decade.

Date: 2011-01-29 01:44 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
Well, he IS a bit self-righteous at the beginning, but yeah, this shows a side of him that recent years haven't shown much of.

Date: 2011-01-29 09:07 pm (UTC)
jaybee3: Nguyen Lil Cass (Default)
From: [personal profile] jaybee3
Bruce's reaction to Clark's admission was the same as his reaction to Diana when she told him about Max Lord ("get out") which I've always thought in-character for him. Notice how quickly he cools down here (as opposed to Infinite Crisis where he was the Batjerk amped up). Too bad they've retconned Superman's killing of those villains (they have, right) because it makes Batman's insistence not to (even those his rogue's gallery are insane mass-murderers without much of a conscience) all the more stark.

Date: 2011-01-29 09:47 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
The circumstances are a little different, though. Clark was all alone on a dead world, and had to make a very difficult decision in the name of justice and possibly to save ours from destruction. Bruce didn't LIKE the fact that Clark had killed, but he was willing to forgive him based on the difficult situation he'd been in - the 'Get out' had more to do, as I read it, with his outrage at Clark having dared to lecture HIM about killing when he himself had just killed.
Diana, on the other hand, was part of a group at the time, and on a populated world with plenty of heroes available to call in as backup. She also made a difficult decision in the name of saving the world, but given the circumstances, Bruce can't see that; he's convinced that he would have somehow found a way to do it differently. (Of course, the fact that he had been personally acquainted with Lord as part of the JLI didn't help - this wasn't just some random supervillain; this was a guy he'd known as a fairly honorable man.)

Date: 2011-01-30 05:25 am (UTC)
starwolf_oakley: (Default)
From: [personal profile] starwolf_oakley
There was also the huge question that INFINITE CRISIS *should* have explored, at least a little: Would Bruce be willing to hold to "killing is wrong" so he'd be willing to die (at Clark's hands under Max's control) rather than betray it.

Also, Bruce *should* have narrated at some point: "There was a way to stop Max Lord without Diana killing him. And I have no idea what that could have been."

Date: 2011-01-30 06:41 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
Well, he probably had a whole bunch of IDEAS - he just didn't have the opportunity to use them. (Haven't read Infinite Crisis, though, so I don't know how accurate that assumption is.)

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