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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".

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