Greg Pak and Brett Booth finish up the current arc of Batman/Superman with a surprisingly personal twist.
** SPOILERS AHEAD, YO **
Pak is a master storyteller and Batman/Superman #7 makes that fact all the more true as he brings his story of Mongul manipulating humanity through a video game to a close.
Though the three original players who were controlling a Batman in the past two issues have realized that they were actually manipulating real life, Mongul has enlisted millions of players around the world to step in and keep the fight between the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight going. Mongul’s explanation that humanity doesn’t care that this isn’t just a video game is poignant, and it points to larger themes in the New 52 universe: hopelessness in the face of demigods slowly becoming the norm, and the anger-induced desire to take back a world they are no longer in control of. Of course, the Golden Fury Blossoms exacerbating the feelings of anger and resentment obviously tip the scales in Mongul’s favor, but the Blossoms only enhance the feelings that are already stewing deep within peoples’ hearts.
New character Lydia Pergamon is a perfect example of this. Her life is crumbling around her, and she needs to send a loan application out by 5pm. Superman and Batman’s fight ends up demolishing the post office she’s waiting in line at, and she’s given the opportunity to take out her immense frustration on the man she deems responsible: Superman.
Brett Booth’s artwork continues to be a high point for this arc, as his facial expressions and fight scenes truly make each scene feel all the more palpable and engrossing. Lydia’s anger radiates off the page and Mongul looks as smug as ever watching humanity aid in tearing apart their greatest champion.
The only real negative here is the ‘deus ex machina’ that allows Batman and Superman to defeat Mongul. When Superman sacrifices himself to become a playable character in the game, he (along with the three original players) explains that the heroes always fight each other before teaming up to take on the true villain. Even though that’s true, the fact that it’s used as a way to justify millions of players suddenly not wanting to kill Superman is farfetched, indeed. If all these people have been emotionally manipulated to want to kill Superman, they wouldn’t not want to just because he’s now a character in the game. It’s a thin plot point and really makes no sense in the scheme of the plot.
Though Batman/Superman #7 ends the current arc well enough, the reason for Mongul’s defeat is paper-thin and uses a comic book trope to explain away logic and realism. Granted, a story about a video game where people take control of actual individuals isn’t that realistic, the idea that Superman could change the rules of the game at the last minute is kind of lazy and drags the entire arc down.