Alright, after our brief excursion into a possible DCU future, we return to our regularly scheduled Superman/Batman programming (same Supe/Bat-time…) with # 73 and again with Levitz and Ordway as your creative team.
We start exactly where we left off in # 72 with Lois Lane about to be sacrificed by a Cult of Kal-El (its Superman in the story, but I like how Kal rolls off the tongue after the word cult) because she spurned Superman to marry a human. Well, this is not the Silver Age so the damsel in distress is able to work her way out of said distress, and pretty much has this in hand as Batman comes in to scare off all but one of the cultists. That one being taken down by Lois using maneuvers apparently taught by Batman!
We then cut to the subplot with Luthor trying to reach out to this planet that we saw in # 72 where the inhabitants are angry at Superman for wrecking a few buildings, despite rebuilding them. My guess is it must have been a religious shrine considering how angry they were and all the religious imagery and themes throughout this story. Luthor even comes right out and calls it Lexor, which is a Silver/Bronze Age planet with inhabitants who worshiped Lex Luthor. As far as I can tell, it has not been mentioned since its destruction in 1983, though the reboot of Lex Luthor from evil mad scientist to evil billionaire industrialist could have something to do with getting rid of a lot of Luthor’s sci-fi Golden, Silver and Bronze Age attributes. In any event, Luthor is scheming to send a “care package” of sorts to this planet, making contact and ensuring that they worship him. The greatest land grabber of our time!
So we go back to Batman trying his luck at interrogating the cultist, but Superman swoops in to play the bad cop, well the only way he can by dangling the poor guy over the Metropolis skyline with heat vision red eyes a’ glowing! Its found out that a thing called The Visionary told them to sacrifice Lois Lane in order to show their devotion to Superman, to quote the Man of Steel himself, “possible the most backward idea I’ve heard from anyone this side of Bizzaro!”
We then see Superman, Batman and even Lois conduct investigations on this cult and how to take them down. Which is followed by another scene of Luthor readying a capsule to the planet; and we go back to the main plot with a nice shot of Lois & Clar…err Superman having a domestic argument while both are “on the job” heading to where the next meeting of the Superman cult is. They meet up with Batman, and they crash the meeting, the globe where the “Visionary” was emanating explodes, turning into a giant fire creature that Superman easily takes care of with his super breath and the cultists are all rounded up.
The coda of the issue is Luthor, revealing to be the “man behind the curtain” of the cultists that Lois wonders about at the end of the previous scene, getting ready to become a God to this planet of Superman haters.
This was a thoroughly entertaining story to be sure. Had none of the things that made me slightly trepidations about the first part of the arc (preachy religious connotations, and rehashing sillier elements of Silver Age Superman and Batman stories) and even threw in several nice Easter Eggs for fans of various incarnations of the Superman and Batman mythos. For example, Smallville fans will note a headline of an article in Lois’ cubicle “’Red-Blue Blur’ Gets A Name” as well as a shout out to Bibbo, a long time cast member of the Superman titles. Ordway’s art is also impressive as well. While this is mostly a Superman-centric story, Batman does get in some good moments, especially doing some detective work, and it was nice to see nods to what Lois Lane does, something that appears to have been missing in the Man of Steel’s titles as of late, but this isn’t TheSupermanUniverse.net, so no need to rant about how DC is handling the Clark Kent side of Superman.
I’m looking forward to the final chapter of this story next month.
Reviewed by SteveJRogers