Lately I'm more than a little hesitant to get issues with Bat family members doing cameos because a lot of writers have gotten the characters wrong recently. Doing things that make them unlikable and/or makes no sense. I don't even look at spoilers for a certain title because it's pretty much guaranteed to tick me off. While I didn't think Greg Paks' first Batman/Superman annual was perfect I did think it was enjoyable and he had a pretty good handle on one particular character. Let's see how he handles three bat kids interacting with Superman.
Some men forced to work for Vandal Savage are panicking as their equipment is malfunctioning and they don't want to make their boss mad. They attack when they mistake Superman for Savage but the big guy lets them know their there to help. He tries to introduce everyone else (Batgirl, Dick and Red Hood) but stopped when a kid's thrilled to see Superman. Clark feels awkward since his powers aren't at full strength and Jason explains the situation to them. Savages' men don't take the news well but a save from Superman puts them at ease.
Clark gives the bats different jobs to help everyone escape. Jason puts together a list of weapons to see what they can use against the big bad. He says Savage kicked Supermans' ass so they need something more, he also notices Clark isn't in the greatest of moods. They try to work on the teleporter Savage uses with Clark darkly suggesting rigging it to materialize Savage into a rock. Batgirl laughs because she thinks it's a joke but Clark isn't amused. Dick sets up witness protection stuff for the people and the kid wants to be "Clark." Then tries to hurt Superman...which is actually a little distrurbing. While the kid is jabbing him with a fork he eavesdrops on Dick telling the mom that Savage is immortal which means he can strike at any time. This only seems to upset him more partly because the little brat apparently did hurt him since he's bleeding.
I was worried about what role Jason would be playing and I don't like him playing the devil on his shoulder. Yes Jason has a point that Savage will likely kill these people but I don't know if he'd suggest this. Not to Superman, not on what's basically a family mission which translates to no killing. Naturally Jason instantly gets labeled the bad one as Dick says Batgirl and him didn't invite Jason there to murder people. The way this is written really rubs me the wrong way. It has Jason suggesting nuking the area to stop Savage just so we can see the idea being planted into Clarks' head.
Shadow monsters, which look like ninjas, attack. Dick is apparently slow on the uptake as he protests "killing" them despite Superman attacking like Jason. And he doesn't seem to notice there's no blood. To up my annoyance Robobat appears because Clark called him. Jim says he scanned them and confirms their not sentient but would his tech really be able to tell if they were something like magic based? Anyway they uncover a high tech ship that apparently connects with the Nazis.
Overall: I was enjoying this until the kill or not to kill debate. Last time Pak had Bruce pick Jason for the mission because he kills. It was unclear if Jason killed anyone in the issue but there was a lot of debating. It also didn't seem to occur to Bruce (or he didn't care) that his idea of shooting the floating sphere would kill the aliens within. I think that Jason would phrase things differently like asking what the actual plan is if their not going to kill to defend the people. Jason knows Superman is usually right up there with Bruce on the whole death thing so it seems odd for him to be suggesting this. Although I felt it was odd for Bruce to suggest Jason could kill in the annual too.
You're telling me Jason Todd, the guy that has connections to people with magic and tech automatically thinks they should set off nukes? While he's right that no one else is coming up with ideas this is really extreme for him. Hell his current portrayal in his series has him willing to give the bad guys a shot at redemption! I might not agree with that in some cases but that's a far cry from this!
Superman seems to be drifting towards the kill idea even before Jason says anything. I'm not sure how the solicit can connect given what we're shown. I have a feeling everyone will blame Jason if Clark goes off the rails. The only way I can see it working in line with what the solicit says is if Jason was just ranting to blow off steam/get a reaction and didn't think Superman would actually try to follow through. It's not how he's being written in his title but it makes more sense.
Dick does very little in this aside from getting overly preachy like the whole thing was his idea (I think Babs contacted everyone.) You know what would have made more sense? Contacting more people, hell Superman got Gordon. They could have contacted Tim and gotten the Titans. Jason could have at least gotten Roy, who has worked on alien ships and would likely figure out a teleporter. If there were more people I doubt Jason would have jumped to the nuke suggestion (even if I think he won't have gone there in the first place.)
I think we're either supposed to think Jason reached this idea because it's a desperate situation (noticing Superman is upset when the others don't and seeing him bleed) or he likes killing? Honestly I only added the last suggestion because of his yells during the maiming of the Shadow monsters and I don't have many conclusions to jump to. Maybe I will in the re-read as this is my gut reaction from my first read through.
Babs...she really has very little personality. She might have come off better in the previous issue, I don't know. Here she's shown as very naïve as she doesn't see something's wrong with Clark and as her dad points out she blindly trusts his judgment. There's no real presence to her and much like other appearances I've seen her in she doesn't seem particularly skilled especially if she's not a genius.
I do think the killing issue can be written better without making Jason into the bad guy. I'd love to see an instance where he's in the right and they all realize it. If that happened it would have to be in his title as I can't see any other book wanting to have their heroes be wrong. I'm irritated but sadly not really surprised. I do worry how next issue will go especially since I'm already dreading Robin War. I was looking forward to December.
Say What?: Babs has an eidetic memory (which was meaningless here and in the annual) but isn't a genius? Uh, I'm pretty sure she's supposed to be that smart. I mean she hasn't acted brilliant in a lot of books since the reboot but it's supposed to be a thing. After seeing her telling Dick she was smarter than him in the FE issue of Grayson it's weird to see her say she's not a genius. Plus it would make sense for her to work on the teleporter if she was a genius otherwise there's no point.
Was Clark really going to say Dick was a spy? I'm still in disbelief over him saying Jason was a Robin, much like it being revealed to another character in Eternal it doesn't make much sense to say this. I mean do the rogues of Gotham know who he is? Wouldn't they be getting on Joker for claiming he killed a Robin if said Robin is alive? Wouldn't it be a big thing to know one of the bats kills?
Saying Jason was the "mean" Robin. Screw that retcon. Damian is meaner than him. I think this is supposed to support the idea of Jason jumping to kill.
Questions Asked?: Does Gordon recognize Dick? Shouldn't the people their helping know him since they know who Superman is? Is there anyone who doesn't know Dick is alive? Worst spy ever.
Did You Notice?: Dicks' fur lining is blue?
The skull on the back of Dicks' laptop.