Torment Can Be Fun: Superman/Batman: Torment Graphic Novel Review

scanned cover to Superman/Batman: Torment, pencils by Dustin Nguyen.

Superman/Batman: Torment isn’t a comic that’s going to redefine the way you look at comics, nor will it much change the way you see the heroes. What this is, is a fun, fast-paced graphic novel that you don’t need to know all that much about the DCU to understand.

The plot begins with something that seems to happen every other month: Superman becomes mind-controlled, this time by Darkseid. He then is whisked off to the planet of Apokalips and the only one who can save him is Batman (although why only Batman–and not Wonder Woman or Martian Manhunter or one of the other uber-powerful heroes isn’t all that clear). It’s only after Batman teleports to the planet that’s ran by goons and patrolled by a stoolie Superman that our hero realizes he’s in over his head. As luck would have it, he meets up with Bekka, wife of Orion.

Here the story takes a twist: Bekka has the ability to make men fall in love with her (like o-so many Star Trek femme fatales), and the more they try to resist intimacy, the more potent her power is. Complicating things is that she can’t control this power, and, as it turns out, it’s reciprocal. Batman, because he doesn’t allow himself to love, ends up making both of them go head over heels in a swoon for each other. Yes, it is silly and probably will seem sexist to many, but the story is kind of a fun throwback to the campy and psychadelic 70s when comics were densely populated with seductive and elusive enchantresses.

What I liked about this is that it showed Batman as this guy who has a sort of Bushido code. Bekka might be the only woman who can make him lower his defenses and actually enjoy the company of another, but he has to try and resist because she’s a fellow superhero’s wife, and because he can’t let a woman into the Batcave (for reasons as to why that wouldn’t work, check out Batman RIP where he falls for Jezebel Jet).

So in the end, Superman/Batman: Torment is what I’d like to call a “boys-playing-with-action-figures-in-the-sandbox” kind of story, but sometimes that’s exactly what I’m looking for in a superhero comic. Writer Alan Burnett crafted an exciting story, and Dustin Nguyen has provided some pretty slick images. Fans of Jack Kirby’s Fourth World series will likely enjoy this one too. If you’re not looking for realism in your comics, and you can accept what you’re seeing on the page is pure fantasy, then check out Superman/Batman: Torment.

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