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Superman/Batman Vol. 3: Absolute Power
Review by James W. Powell

Story
Superman/Batman Vol. 3 cover
Superman/Batman Vol. 3: Absolute Power

Story
Jeph Loeb
 
Pencils
Carlos Pacheco with Ivan Reis
 
Inks
Jesus Merino
 
Colors
Laura Martin
 
Letters
Richard Starkings

Publisher
DC Comics
 
Format
Hardcover Collection
 
Publish Date
July 13, 2005
 
Cover Price
$19.99
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

I hesitated when when picking up Superman/Batman Vol. 3: Absolute Power. I've steadily been losing my interest in the superhero genre as a whole, and the last volume of this title, Supergirl, was down right bad (review). But I let some other fans talk me into giving it one more try. And guess what? I've rediscovered why superhero books are so popular.

Absolute Power is a fun, fast-paced adventure; exactly what I want from my superhero books. And writer Jeph Loeb makes it seem easy. In this volume, which collects issues 14-18 of the series, sends our heroes through time and answers the question: What would happen if the Justice League never formed? Three time travelers from the 31st century steal Superman and Batman before they become heroes, and together, they rule the world. They're motto: "Obey or Die." Not the picture you're used to.

Half the fun in this book is watching the boy scout with the red cape kick butt. He even kills. And why not? In this timeline, he's not the goodie goodie he's so well known for. Instead, he's a tyrant. And because of it, there are some brutal scenes in this book. Some are actually shocking. And once the initial reaction wore away, I found myself enjoying Superman's violent tendencies.

The other fun half is watching out for all the cool cameos from the DC universe. Wonder Woman looks particularly cool, although I was a little turned off with the use of Uncle Sam. Let's face it, he's just not a hip and cool as the gun-toting Jonah Hex or the ultra sexy Wonder Woman. But as Supermand and Batman jump from one timeline to another, they always run into DC heroes trying to return the world to the status quo, and that's aways fun to see heroes fight heroes.

Of course, all of this is wrapped up into a decent story. Sure, the plot serves the action instead of the other way around, but the story gets the job done. It's quick. It's entertaining. And it doesn't weigh itself down with too much explanation. Superman and Batman are trying to get back to "reality" and into the right timeline. It's not Shakespeare, but it's suitable for all the fights, explosions, and surprise appearances that are crammed into this volume.

The ending is a bit of a let down, however. After the opening few chapters, which are perfectly paced and filled with what every fan boys wants in his superhero books, it'd be hard to exceed those expectations. Of course, that's what I wanted anyway. The climax isn't as exciting as the build up, and let's face it, it's a bit anticipated since things must get back to order at some point. I would've liked something a bit more powerful on our way there, but this'll work in a pinch.

Jeph Loeb hasn't re-created anything here. He's just developed a fun, easy, exciting story that entertains. For me, that's enough to get me coming back to the superhero genre...at least for now.

Art

Just like the story fits into exactly what you want from a superhero time traveling tale, the art is just about perfect too. Carlos Pacheco's smooth imagery looks so damn...well...sexy. And I'm not just talking about his interpretation of Wonder Woman, Lois Lane, and Selina Kyle (although he does indeed know how to draw a sexy woman). No, I'm saying that his style is attractive. There's lots of appeal in each panel. While I wouldn't say his imagery is particularly dynamic, he does capture the excitement and emotion of the moment.

With that said, however, I have to give props to the spectacular colors of Laura Martin. This book is so vibrant and colorful, the images practically jump of the page (if you'll excuse the cliché). It's the type of bright coloring that got me interested in comics when I was a kid. But not every image gets this amped up bright color scheme. Instead, each scene gets its own color palette to match the tone of the story, so darkness and shadows come into play when necessary.

While I wouldn't appreciate the art of Absolute Power for my darker, more realistic stories, I do find it fits perfectly with Loeb's Superman/Batman series.

Bonus Features
Surprisingly, there are no extra features in this collection. I say surprising because the first two volumes had sketch pages, which would've been a nice addition to this volume as well.
Final Words

Superman/Batman Vol. 3: Absolute Power is a fun read. It starts off better then it ends, but it's still a great diversion from reality, which is what I want from my superhero stories. The art is top of the line too, so if you enjoy these characters, I recommend you give this one a shot.

Recommended

Also check out the review for Superman/Batman Vol. 2: Supergirl.


James has written for such fine web sites as DVDtalk, Broken Frontier, and Paperback Reader. He lives in Denver with his lovely wife and two cats who wake him up at 3 a.m.

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