Adapted by Tab Murphy from Supergirl From Krypton.
Superman & Batman: Apocalypse is a strange case in terms of what it wants to achieve. The title would tell you it’s a team-up between the World’s Finest, as they journey to Apocalypse to fight Darkseid. Which is what happens, but that isn’t the main event. Instead, the story is really about the arrival of Kara Zor-El, and how she adapts to Earth life with the guidance of cousin Kal-El and Wonder Woman, Diana. Bruce Wayne, a headline character sharing the billing with Kal-El, only plays a supporting role, and the story can’t seem to decide what it wants to be.
What it is though, is actually better than you might expect it to be. There are some real moments of believability, as Zor-El adjusts to her new home by going on a shopping spree and experiencing hot-dogs, all while dragging Kal-El around with her, who already feels Human enough to react how you might expect him to. Another highlight is her reaction to the death of Harbinger, which was underplayed to effect. Or is that just because I sensed a romantic subtext between them?
The best part is after the battle between Zor-El and Darkseid, destroying Kent Farm. When the Kents return, they see the destruction around them, and Kal-El stands amidst it with a girl in clothes ripped to shreds. His reaction takes the character from Superman to Clark Kent without the distinction. It’s a subtle, but important factor. Unfortunately, the battle itself is the problem. Having reasoned to Darkseid, Kal-El is able to take Zor-El away from Apocalypse, and prepares her for the meeting between his parents. Darkside then emerges from within to destroy Kal-El. It was a surprising twist, but follows completely brought down the tone of the story. Somehow, Darkside tossed Kal-El so far that he was thrown toward the sun. Meanwhile, Zor-El was left to fight Darkseid herself. It reminded me of Man of Steel‘s latter half, with the violence becoming so overblown that it lost its effect to the point of the audience no longer really feeling the force of the violence. The conflict between them wasn’t between the characters, it was just between two super-powered characters. And naturally, Zor-El’s clothes became torn-off, showing much flesh. Kal-El had a few rips here and there, but none to the point matching Zor-El’s. It was very reminiscent of Michael Bay: tedious levels of destruction, leading to an opportunity for eye candy. It felt like a weight on the end of an okay story, that makes you feel as if its too long (which it was), and had already reached a satisfying conclusion.
While the ending lacks confidence, what comes before is several stories in one, and the whole thing feels as if its an extended recap of a television series rather than a single story. Subplots and multiple plot-lines aren’t a bad thing, but Superman & Batman: Apocalypse doesn’t seem to be very good at them.
Superman & Batman: Apocalypse: multiple plotlines and overblown finale 5/10.