SUPERMAN: SPEEDING BULLETS
Writer: John Marc (J.M.) DeMatteis
Artist: Eduardo (Ed) Barreto
Colorist: Les Dorscheid
Rating: 9/10 Super Bats
This weekend’s read has been a long-awaited one for me too. Thanks to the Instagram comic community vote as my next book I should cover, I can finally see what Superman: Speeding Bullets was all about. Clark Kent dressed as Batman? I definitely had a strong curiosity for this one after finishing Red Son and being recommended it. It’s time to dive back into the 90s with this Elseworlds read! I hope your Kryptonite isn’t spoilers, because that’s what I’ll be using.
The concept of this one-shot story is pretty straight forward. What if instead of ending up in Kansas with the Kents, Kal-El’s rocket lands in Gotham and he ends up being adopted by the Waynes. Clark Kent is nonexistent (or at least the one we know) and we have this Elseworld’s Bruce Wayne. Loved greatly by his family, and raised with all of the values that we know Superman to have, Bruce, is seemingly on track for the destined role he is meant to play. This comes in the tragic events that we all know from the numerous times we’ve seen the pearls fall and gunshots ring out. What could have been the Man of Steel inevitably becomes the Dark Knight, as Bruce dons the Bat costume and with his powers, deals out violent justice.
At this point of the read, I was expecting DeMatteis’ story to play out like all the current Elseworld stories that have been coming out now, a more or less Dark Multiverse take with Batman using his powers to violently get rid of crime in Gotham (and eventually the world) for good. Instead, the Man of Steel’s true mythos couldn’t stay away from him for long as Lois Lane and Perry White move to Gotham after being hired by Bruce Wayne to write for him. Even Lex Luthor ends up in Gotham, even taking up the identity of the Joker. With Lois Lane as the biggest influence for Bruce, she reminds him after witnessing him commit violent acts as Batman, that he is capable of doing so much good for the world. This eventually sinks in enough to let go of that anger he had at the loss of his parents, and to be more than rage, turning to hope and inspiration to others.
Through this one-shot, Lois Lane gives us the story through her narration. One of my favorite parts of this is at the end of this story when Bruce begins the change from Batman to Superman. DeMatteis has Lois ponder what the world could have been like if Superman landed anywhere else, and tells us that this was the only way to have gotten to Superman becoming who he was meant to be. The little poke at this was funny considering we know that’s not true with the main universe, but for me, also Red Son. Three very different upbringings, yet the core of what makes Superman who he inevitably shines through at the end.
I honestly can’t say enough how good of a one-shot this issue was. The story was very interesting to play with two of DC’s biggest characters and basically put them together. The only critique I could find for this issue was Lois put into a sexual assault scenario. While it’s a bummer that this trope was used (a little more leeway for this from the 90s compared to current comics that do it), it was little insulting to have Lois state how competent she is at defending herself, only to stumble and become completely helpless. Other than that, a great read. I also enjoyed Barreto’s art style in this, with some really interesting usage of blending the backgrounds into the panels as well with the colorist Dorschied. I hope this becomes an issue that is collected in some form of Superman books down the road. It’s an interesting play on both Batman and Superman and I would love to see more of this in the future.