My experience has been that most comic based on video games are…less than stellar. And when I have not even played the game on which it is based, I am even more reluctant to read the book. However, my son’s oldest friend has been asking me to read this for several years and so I started it this month. I am so glad I listened to him as this was a fun and interesting read. The main concept is that Superman “Breaks bad” and Batman has to stop him. This is a story that has been told in one form or another multiple times. But not this way.
Stories are so much more effective when you understand the reason why the main villain acts as he/she does. It does not justify their actions but if the background is explained and is logical you, as the reader can say “OK, this is awful and a terrible decision but I get why they are acting like this.” In this graphic novel, the Joker decides to go after Superman as he thinks he is an easier target than Bats. While he does not kill him, he tricks Superman into accidentally killing Lois who is pregnant with their child. Making matters worse, her death triggers a nuclear bomb which wipes out Metropolis. In one fell swoop, Joker takes out Superman’s love, child and city. He does not handle this well (and there is an interesting tie in this to the Killing Joke, where Joker says we are all one bad day away from becoming just like him) and kills the Joker.
Supes starts taking things farther and farther though and tries to end war, gun violence and to bring peace to the earth through martial law. He is encouraged to do this by Wonder Woman, who really plays the role of an evil Jiminy Cricket in this tale, goading Superman when his belief falters. It is a very well done cautionary tale of how even those with the noblest of intentions, and Superman really was trying to save people, can have disastrous consequences. In his battle to help “save” humanity, many innocents are killed, Atlantis is nearly wiped out (and the story did the almost impossible by making Aquaman a real threat and be interesting) and the elected governments essentially neutralized. I kept hearing the quote from Lord Acton when reading this story “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. I am intrigued to see where the story goes in years 2 and 3. Thank you, Devin, for encouraging me to read this