Comic Vine Review

49 Comments

Batman/Superman Annual #1 - Arena

4

The fate of the world hangs in the balance. This might be even bigger than just Batman and Superman. Time to call in some family for back-up.

The Good

I'll admit, I was a little skeptical over this annual at first. I've really been enjoying the main series but the recent sideways-art story arc with Mongul wasn't my favorite, partly because of the sideways format. Often annuals contain stand alone stories that may not always "matter" in the long run, but this story was picking up where that left off. That could be good or bad. There was also the fact that there's a lot of 'guest stars' here that could feel a little forced.

That wasn't the case.

This is a story I was thankful could be told in a self contained annual-size issue. With the fate of the world at stake and a huge battle ahead of Batman and Superman, you're going to want to see it all in one sitting. Greg Pak continues the tradition of the original SUPERMAN/BATMAN series by allowing us to get inside their heads. "Hearing" what they're thinking is great to let us feel more of a connection.

Both of these characters are big on the idea of "family." When it comes down to them needed to bring some back-up, it's nice to see who they choose, particularly when it comes to Batman's choice. This isn't the typical battle Batman and Superman have faced. Both are facing the possibility of having to push themselves further than usual.

We are also treated to some gorgeous art. Jae Lee starts the issue off. I sometimes note the occasional lack of backgrounds but there is simply something about this style that astonishes me. The second act is by Kenneth Rocafort, another favorite artist. The third act features art by Philip Tan. It is a treat to get to see all these characters depicted by these three brilliant artists.

The Bad

Even though this was an oversized story, there were some minor moments that could leave you scratching your head. It feels like a sudden situation with Batman and Superman needed to fight this new threat. When they call in their back-up, it's almost as if they came out of no where. Were Jason Todd and Steel just sitting around nearby waiting? I haven't been keeping up with SUPERBOY so I'm not sure where Krypto came from or why he was with Superboy before.

There is the slight shift in art that happens for each "act." It's not a full and clear break in the story (but is separated by "Act One," "Act Two," etc). It's not too much to get distracted by since all three artists are good at what they do but we are talking about THREE different artists on one story.

Parts of the overall story didn't quite sit right with me. Perhaps I just don't fully understand the rules of Warworld. Either way, it's still a highly enjoyable story.

The Verdict

This is the kind of story I like in an annual. If I'm going to pay more for an issue, I want to see some big action, lots of characterization, and great art. Getting to see more than just Batman and Superman fight was really cool. Greg Pak does a wonderful job capturing the essence of Superman and Batman along with Jason Todd and Supergirl. This story is enough to make you want to see more from this situation by any of the three artists. There were parts of the story that didn't quite mesh perfectly but it can easily be overlooked when you allow yourself to sit back and enjoy the ride. It's comics like this that remind you how much fun reading them can be.

49 Comments

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Mercy_

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I personally really enjoyed this issue. And you can't beat Jae Lee on art for this book, simply impeccable.

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jwalser3

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Meh. It's alright. Hopefully First Contact will bring this series up.

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Black_Arrow

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This issue was awesome but I cant believe that Superman let Mogul son in there.

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kit07

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Edited By kit07

I wanna pick this up for the cover alone.

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dbatdog

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loving this issue :)

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JakeN7

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Edited By JakeN7

I was blown away. This was incredible. Amazing action, fantastic fan-favorite characters, and a really engaging plot. Not to mention three concise arcs split up by 3 of the industry's best artists. I loved every panel of it. 5/5

Also, Kenneth Rocafort draws Red Hood again! Yay!

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patrat18

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Superman battles will get intense with that new phantom zone projector.

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Zeeguy91

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Is this a good standalone read? I skipped the Brett Booth issues.

Also, I was wondering if the most recent issue (#8) was a good "re-jumping" on point. Or do I have to go out and buy World's Finest?

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CaptainMarvel4Ever

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@jaken7 said:

I was blown away. This was incredible. Amazing action, fantastic fan-favorite characters, and a really engaging plot. Not to mention three concise arcs split up by 3 of the industry's best artists. I loved every panel of it. 5/5

Also, Kenneth Rocafort draws Red Hood again! Yay!

Same here man.

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CaptainMarvel4Ever

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This was my first Annual, and I was very very nervous to pay that much for an issue, but it's soooo good that I would be willing to pay more. Honestly i want to see DC adapt this into an animated film.

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JakeN7

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@zeeguy91 said:

Is this a good standalone read? I skipped the Brett Booth issues.

Also, I was wondering if the most recent issue (#8) was a good "re-jumping" on point. Or do I have to go out and buy World's Finest?

This is a fine stand-alone read. You just need to know that Mongul was the villain in that Brett Booth drawn arc, and Batman and Superman defeated him. But that's recalled within the first 2 panels.

#8 is great to get back on board, but you will certainly need to read World's Finest afterwards if you care about the story.

@jaken7 said:

I was blown away. This was incredible. Amazing action, fantastic fan-favorite characters, and a really engaging plot. Not to mention three concise arcs split up by 3 of the industry's best artists. I loved every panel of it. 5/5

Also, Kenneth Rocafort draws Red Hood again! Yay!

Same here man.

*high five*

This was my first Annual, and I was very very nervous to pay that much for an issue, but it's soooo good that I would be willing to pay more. Honestly i want to see DC adapt this into an animated film.

Not all annuals are this great, but some of them can be. And that would actually be really interesting. I think there's enough material there to turn it into an animated feature, but they'd need some way to touch upon Damian and Superboy's death, and the previous arc with Mongul as well.

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batsymyplaything

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Edited By batsymyplaything

Superboy is dead, when did that happen?

@zeeguy91: Yes, this is a good stand alone read, it explains what happened to the last adversary, so you don't feel lost, when things happen at the end of this issue, so I say yeah, buy and read it, lol. I read the 8th issue without reading the World Finest, I though it was fine reading the issue without any background to Huntress and Power girl.

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CantDance93

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This issue was great, but the whole Batman vs. Superman fight kinda threw me off, this is the second time Pak's done this.

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THEOCITYLEGEND

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Edited By THEOCITYLEGEND

Good story with plenty of action.

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J_HickmanIsGod

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havent picked up anything past Issue #3...all the back issues are still just posted in my pull.

gonna check out this Annual, hopefully i wont need to read the other present issues to get a full grasp.

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Fastestmanalive

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Favorite scene was with Superman, Wonder Woman and Supergirl interacting. Great character moments and showed their unique personalities.

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PapiNacho

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This issue was the best, since the Earth 2 issues,r really dug it.

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Superguy1591

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As much as I'm loving Pak's Action Comics, his B/S is losing me... =\

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feedonatreefrog

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Edited By feedonatreefrog

Yeah I dropped B/S with issue 5, but this annual was AWESOME

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GustavoBurciaga1

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Really awesome issue! Strongly recommend it to anyone who's either a Batman or Superman fan. Storyline was great even though you may have needed a bit of background information from previous issues or events it was still strong as a standalone issue and did a good job on catching you up with certain events. The art was beautiful and unique, using 3 different artist was a good move on this issue. My only objection is the cover. It's a good cover but they should have stuck to the original. Not because it makes the Bat-Fam look weak but because the original was just so much cooler looking and make it seem intense. But aside from that minor detail 5/5 for sure.

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Nick-SV(ril)

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@g_man The fact that Krypto was with this version of Superboy made no sense to begin with, so you're not missing much on that Tony. Seems to me they practically did it for nostalgia reasons other than anything else. But I'm glad Krypto is back. Hopefully he'll stick around.

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dondave

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Edited By dondave
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ColaNicole

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This issue was great, but the whole Batman vs. Superman fight kinda threw me off, this is the second time Pak's done this.

Yeah I agree, we didn't need it again so soon. I was hoping at this point they wouldn't need to fight. That and Batman needs all kinds of PIS which reflects on the quality of the comic imo.

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Kaelthas31

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I was the only one who saw chemistry between kara and jason?

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SanoHibiki

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Pak continues to pleasantly surprise me.

Besides my easily most loved characterization ever, he easily handled such high number of guest-appearances; I liked sweet moment between Clark and Diana; we finally got to see Best-Dog-In-The-Universe (where have you been, boy) and Pak actually, first time ever, managed to make me care about Mongul’s offspring. Poor guy - and poor Bruce…

Superman actually have contingency plan in case of some planet crushing on Earth – when Clark uses his sun-powered brain, that’s always good in my book.

I’m a little put off by second BM vs SM fight, but oh well; it made sense in this story’s context.

Usually I wouldn’t like some many artists on one issue, but they all made such a stellar work (and that’s Rocafort’s art)… Thank you, guys!

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Fallschirmjager

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I love Jae Lee's art

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Abnegazar

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Edited By Abnegazar

@mercy_: I totally agree. Although I have found a little boring, really enjoyed this "book".

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CantDance93

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The art was a visual orgasim for me.

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CantDance93

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I was the only one who saw chemistry between kara and jason?

No you were not! :) I saw that too, they're both hard headed and stubborn, I think it be great if they had a thing.

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PeppeyHare

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Krypto hype

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Lvenger

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Am I the only one who isn't a fan of Jae Lee's art? His facial expressions and outlines are really skewed and poorly proportioned IMO. I don't see the appeal but to each his own I guess. I hear the story for this annual was fantastic so that's the most important thing.

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The_Titan_Lord

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Nice.

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SmashBrawler

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@lvenger said:

Am I the only one who isn't a fan of Jae Lee's art?

Yes :D

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TDK_1997

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The story was overall good but there were some pretty weak moments but nothing memorable.

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2cool4fun

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@zeeguy91: I'd suggest getting worlds finest 19, as the issue begins where that one ended.

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Squalleon

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@lvenger said:

Am I the only one who isn't a fan of Jae Lee's art? His facial expressions and outlines are really skewed and poorly proportioned IMO. I don't see the appeal but to each his own I guess. I hear the story for this annual was fantastic so that's the most important thing.

His old stuff like FF: 1234 were on another level, but his stuff in B/S is plain lazy. No backgrounds, all the characters are full inked even in direct sun-light, his characters don't have expressions and they are stiff. I really don't get the appeal especially when he is in the same issue with Rocafort and Tan to compare.

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Lvenger

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@lvenger said:

Am I the only one who isn't a fan of Jae Lee's art? His facial expressions and outlines are really skewed and poorly proportioned IMO. I don't see the appeal but to each his own I guess. I hear the story for this annual was fantastic so that's the most important thing.

His old stuff like FF: 1234 were on another level, but his stuff in B/S is plain lazy. No backgrounds, all the characters are full inked even in direct sun-light, his characters don't have expressions and they are stiff. I really don't get the appeal especially when he is in the same issue with Rocafort and Tan to compare.

Hmm I'll have to check out his FF and Inhuman stuff for comparison. I also saw a lot of stiffness in his Batman/Superman art too and it's not good for more dynamic and action packed pages and panels in a comic.

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AllStarSuperman

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@lvenger said:

Am I the only one who isn't a fan of Jae Lee's art? His facial expressions and outlines are really skewed and poorly proportioned IMO. I don't see the appeal but to each his own I guess. I hear the story for this annual was fantastic so that's the most important thing.

No I am not a fan either.

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asjmooney

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I've been reading comics full time for almost two years now and very rarely have I enjoyed a standalone issue as much as I did this. The art, the story, the characterisations of everyone included was a pleasure to read. I especially loved the Batgirl/Steel pair up. So glad to see Jae Lee on this again. I hope he stays! I thought this series fell short when it moved over to the sideways format. Glad it's back on form!

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HushoftheWind

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Edited By HushoftheWind

anybody else feel that all the characters were represented very well in this issue? And i hope to Zod that somebody get on their p's and q's in the Red Hood respect forums b/c Todd had some amazing feats in this issue. I guess its safe to say that Jason is the first bat character who space savvy

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mak13131313

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@lvenger: No you are not. I can't stand it. The story was really good though.

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amazing_webhead

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*sigh* Even when beating up Jason Todd, Kara looks beautiful.

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Kaelthas31

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*sigh* Even when beating up Jason Todd, Kara looks beautiful.

No Caption Provided

kara and jason look nice together

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HushoftheWind

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@amazingwebhead said:

*sigh* Even when beating up Jason Todd, Kara looks beautiful.

No Caption Provided

kara and jason look nice together

as i was reading the book i was thinking to myself, "Yeah, i'd shipped that."

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TheWitchingHour

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Jae Lee's artwork is simply incredible. I will buy almost any book that he is a part of. Hopefully the plot is strong enough to stand with the art and not be overrun by it.

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lifeofvibe

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deactivated-5d2b83d5a0d79

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Empty story with pretty art. 3/10.