When I first saw the cover of Superman/Batman Issue #1, I was instantly excited to read it and take in as much of Jae Lee's fabulous art as I could. Unlike the art, the direction the story took disappointed me. "Superman/Batman Volume 1: Cross World" leaves me with mixed feelings.
A goddess from Apokolips transports the Superman and Batman of our world to Earth 2. It's a world where the familiar becomes unfamiliar and the origins of our heroes aren't what we've come to know as canon. It's a world where the Dark Knight and Man of Steel must join forces with their doppelgangers to defeat a universal enemy and find their way back to the reality they're from.
I give Greg Pak praise for taking a storyline that could've sunk very quickly into tedium and breathing new life into it. It's still irritating that a re-launch of the Superman/Batman title featuring such immaculate artwork immediately falls into the somewhat tired realm of alternate universes and Earth 2. It's really the personal stories of the characters that make "Superman/Batman Volume 1: Cross World" as easy to read as it is.
Several artists contribute to "Superman/Batman Volume 1: Cross World." They all deserve credit for their great work. However, all of them are overshadowed by the unique and awe-inspiring handiwork of Jae Lee. I've been dumbstruck by his illustrations ever since first coming across them through Before Watchmen: Ozymandias. As I've said before, his work reminds me of early Americana ala Norman Rockwell with a modern twist I can't even put my finger on when it comes to comparisons. It's a sophisticated style that can't be mimicked.
"Superman/Batman Volume 1: Cross World" is rated "T" for Teens. There's really nothing out of the ordinary to mention. We get the usual comic book violence and some mild language if I remember correctly.
There are 19 pages of bonus material included in "Superman/Batman Volume 1: Cross World." Variant covers are drawn by Kenneth Rocafort, Guillem March, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Daniel Brown, Patrick Gleason, Mick Gray, John Kalisz, Tony S. Daniel, and Tomeu Morey. Original penciling and scripting is also featured.
"Superman/Batman Volume 1: Cross World" could very easily have slipped into tedium with all its overly used concepts and characters. Greg Pak finds a way to add some spice to it by giving us more background on the super heroes and villains from both Earths. Jae Lee's phenomenal artwork is also a huge reason why the book is so tempting to pick up. Here's hoping we move away from the alternate universe plotlines in the future and explore brave new ground.