(2005) Matt Wagner, Titan Books, £10.99, trdpbk, 208pp, ISBN 1-840-23892-5
Collection of Matt (Mage) Wagner's three-part mini-series detailing the 'first meeting' of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman (presumably superceding all their previous first meetings...). The evil Ra's Al Ghul, with the aid of a renegade Amazon, frees Bizarro from Superman's Fortress of Solitude and steals a load of nukes. The three heroes each get involved, there's the odd misunderstanding, but eventually they save the day (as if there was any doubt). Now I'm sorry if that seems a somewhat glib resume of the plot but, of course, in this instance it isn't the plot that's important (after all, subsequent continuity was unlikely to be significantly altered and, if it were, it would either reflect or be corrected by the upcoming Infinite Crisis). What is important is how good a job Wagner has made depicting the three DC flagship characters in themselves, and in their relationships with one another. Which, on the whole, he has done, along with adding several nice touches. Brad Meltzer in his introduction to this volume names a few: Superman's admission to himself that super-hearing is a hard power to resist using, Batman's desire for Wonder Woman's invisible 'plane, how Supes tracks Bats by listening out for all the devices in his utility belt. Nice stuff like that. My favourite moment (reflecting earlier such moments in Batman tales) is when Wonder Woman, after getting off on the wrong foot with Bats, asks Supes why he lets him get away with his dark methods? Supes replies in part, "I've seen him throw himself in harm's way time and time again, all to rescue the lives of innocents. And remember, he's got no extraphysical prowess like you and I. I can't find it in myself to deny the exercise of such bravery, even if I don't always agree with his style. In fact, I often wonder, if I were an ordinary man, would I show the same valour?" Which is why you (should) never question what Bats is doing hanging around the heavyweights; he might not be "super", but there's no questioning his courage or heroism. This is not really a 'great' story - the plot plods along sedately to its inevitable conclusion - but it is good solid fare as an examination of the three heroes and this new 'first meeting'. Recommended.
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