The prequel comics for the upcoming superhero blockbuster, Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice have made it to the inter webs in full HD glory. With these comics - BvS promotional material unlocked by scanning Dr. Pepper products with your phone - we get six perspectives of life after what has been called by fans "The Black Zero Event" from 2013's initial DCEU movie, Man of Steel in which General Zod along with his Kryptonian brothers, attacked the Earth when Superman refused to hand over the Codex, a sort of blueprint for the Kryptonian race. Thousands died during the aforementioned attack, yet the world as a whole was saved when Superman put an end to Zod's terrifying rampage.
Let's go a bit out of order and start with the big man himself, Superman.
Superman in Chapter Four of the prequel comics is seen saving the day as only Superman can by stopping a runaway train. It is discussed on a daytime talk show, Superman's abilities and the way he handles being a hero. His rescue of the train was apparently televised and is being dissected on the talk show, two experts of sorts weighing in on how they believed the alien handled such a feat. What is interesting here is getting a glimpse at how Superman is received by public opinion. What we can glean from this short televised discussion is that people are very much split on whether or not Superman can keep himself in check in terms of the amount of power he has and the fact that he has no one to answer to in regards of what he should and shouldn't do with that power.
It appears that everyone agrees completely that Superman is only trying to do the right thing, though skeptics of his are concerned about him choosing what he believes to be right and what he believes to be wrong. For example, is it wrong for him to stand aside while a war is being waged by two countries in order to not cause an international incident all the while ignoring the fact that civilians caught in the middle of the war are being killed? Why can he not at least evacuate the civilians? The side that agrees with Superman's choice to not get involved with wars waged between countries wonders where Superman could even relocate them given that there already exists a refugee crisis (a mirror image of our own world's predicament) where Superman could only make that situation worse.
What is really fascinating about this iteration of Superman and the world he is placed in is what I have been hoping to see in the upcoming DCEU movies. That is, there are consequences to being a superhero such as Superman along with technical complications to just saving everyone for humanity's sake. It is very true that indiscriminate omnipotence and response to everyone's problems could very likely lead to an unfortunate and possibly caustic chain of events linking back to the Man of Steel, something never covered before in other cinematic Superman adaptations.
Keeping with the World's Finest, let's take a look at Batman's prequel comic.
Barring that we get a really cool look at the DCEU's Firefly, a volatile flame-throwing nemesis of the Dark Knight, we don't get too much insight into Ben Affleck's Batman that we haven't already been provided before. He's a meaner, more brutal character than ever. What's interesting however, is what the conversation between the two thugs talking about him says. It's implied that Batman hasn't retired, only that he has just been getting tougher and more rough with crooks over the years, the Metropolis battle seeming to have been the final straw.
This implication seems to be on the contrary of what we've been told through the Batman v Superman synopsis and what information the trailers and cast have provided; that Batman has been retired and has only recently reemerged. So there's a bit of confusion for me on that aspect of the Batman's operations, something that will obviously make more sense once the film releases in a couple of months.
What is interesting is that the other Batman comic seems to have gotten lost on the Internet. In that particular comic chapter, it involves a young girl on a school field trip to Wayne Enterprises, where she sneaks off only to discover criminals armed with Kryptonian weapons, breaking in to a top secret lab looking for more tech. Bruce Wayne finds the girl sneaking around and the two of them take on the criminals, Superman eventually appearing to take the Kryptonian weapons and tech away from them, telling the crooks that the tech belongs to him.
In the Lois Lane chapter, we get a better idea of just how efficient Lois is at her job.
Lois Lane did, in fact, figure out pretty quickly that Clark Kent was Superman, a surprising twist to the Lois and Clark relationship dynamic to come so early in Superman's appearance. However, with the goal here being to put these powerful superheroes in a real, grounded world, chances are others than just Lois would pick up on the fact that thick-rimmed glasses are a crummy disguise. After running into Clark in the Daily Planet, Lois explains that she's off to stop corporate corruption while Clark is hurrying off to floods in Bangladesh.
Lois confronts Mr. Hanford, CEO of Hanford Technologies in Metropolis, providing fool-proof evidence that he sold Kryptonian technology on an illegal black market in order to avoid financial collapse of his company following the Kryptonian attack, something he could have instead avoided by selling off his luxury yachts and other such commodities only the one percent could afford. The confrontation heats up to the point where Lois winds up with a gun against her head, an icy cool one at that, as Lois is able to trick her way out of the dire situation, ultimately having Hanford arrested on the spot.
It is then revealed that Lex Luthor has purchased all of Hanford Tech's holdings and that he has kept the Kryptonian tech that Hanford retained, Lex's intentions with it seeming to deviate far from letting it out of his grasp. We can only guess what interests Lex Luthor could have with such powerful technology.
Speaking of Lex, his chapter offers very good insight into the shape of the business world in Metropolis and beyond after the events of Man of Steel.
LexCorp seems to have been destroyed, its headquarters not but a pile of rubble Lex stands in front of, reporters and news outlets at his back as he proclaims the great misfortune of his company's physical demise to be nothing to him but a minor annoyance, claiming that he will rebuild it into the greatest skyscraper the world has ever seen. Knowing who Lex is, that's an almost guaranteed promise.
It is revealed in this chapter, that corporations are running from Metropolis with their tales between their legs after what happened in MoS, for good reason: there now resides in their city, an alien who can break skyscrapers in half with its bare hands, a notion alluded to more than once in these prequel comics. However, that doesn't faze Ted Kord, also known in DC comics as Blue Beetle, Kord actually expanding his company into Metropolis, following Lex's example of being a human hero who won't let alien threats scare him out of the city. Lex is all personality and public do-gooder in front of the cameras, yet once he steps into his limo with his assistant, Mercy Graves, Lex's opinions and viewpoints become noticeably more skewed and cynical.
Once back at LexCorp, Superman is the only thing Lex can talk about, claiming that his aversion to "politically sticky stuff" seems all too convenient. It's obvious Lex doesn't trust Superman and has yet to know much about him, something Lex claims will change, the tech mogul going so far as to lock himself in a computer room with Kryptonian data displayed on multiple screens, wanting to be left undisturbed for the rest of the day. This is the Lex Luthor whose obsession with Superman drives him day in and day out. I don't believe he will realize this in the beginning of BvS but we will see him obtain this tragic state of being by the film's end or by Justice League: Part I's end.
We end our reading with the final chapter in the prequel comic series with Senator Finch, played in BvS by Academy Award winning actress, Holly Hunter.
In this chapter, a committee seems to have been formed, made up of powerful political figures out of Washington, who seem to be debating Superman's existence just as furiously, if not more so, as the rest of the world. Their debate however, seems to be based in cynicism and paranoia for the safety of the United States and the rest of the world as a whole. Senator Finch is meeting with military advisors along with fellow senators and politicians on the ramifications of Superman's existence on Earth along with the very real possibility of another alien attack and what countermeasures should be applied in such a case.
While Senator Finch plays devil's advocate, seeking out answers and elaboration on viewpoints from both sides, the discussions largely are based on the politics of such a being existing on our planet and what that being's reaction may be to government officials approaching it with the intent to talk it down in to being controlled. This is something Superman ran by General Swanwick in MoS's final minutes of it's third act. Superman wanted the General to relay to Washington that he doesn't need to be spied on by drones because he means no harm and only wants to protect the country he grew up in and the planet he now would like to call home. The general was also concerned about Superman acting against America's interests, wherein Superman re-established the fact that he was born in America, hoping he could keep his trust in Gen. Swanwick to get Washington to listen to him in his attempts to present Superman as an ally and not an enemy.
It seems Washington didn't get the memo if these comics are to be believed to take place soon before Batman v Superman. Not only is Washington worried about how Superman may react to them approaching him, but also how his psyche will develop or devolve depending on what experiences he has on Earth. Will he suffer from PTSD and become volatile? Can he also come down with dementia and forget his place as an ally to America and the planet Earth all together? Very real and practical concerns if I don't say so myself.
In conclusion to the debate, Sen. Finch believes that Superman is wanting to act in the Earth's best interest, however her political cynicism won't allow her to discount the fact that things may change or lead to counterproductive consequences of Superman's well-intentioned actions on the planet. Therefore, Sen. Finch puts forth a vote to fund a committee with the sole function of studying Superman with the utmost importance. The vote is unanimously agreed upon, the meeting adjourned.
With the suits out of the room, the senator approaches the military advisor demanding to know every fact the U.S. does know for a certainty about Superman.
With all of that covered, what we can definitely see here is the confirmation of a world divided in two by Superman's appearance in the DCEU, ushering forth a new era in humanity's place in the universe. This is all of course, on the assumption that these prequel comics are indeed canon to the movie universe, which I believe in fact, they are, given the "From The World of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" confirmation stamp present at the top of each chapter of the prequel comic.
The fact that these comics were even produced, giving vital insight into the key players of Batman vs Superman, Wonder Woman excluded, as I believe her role is being kept tightly under wraps, gives me even stronger hope that we are in for a richly developed, highly detailed shared universe for these DC superheroes. With that being said, I am now at 110% enthusiasm and hype for this movie and am really just counting down the days until March 25th when all of this epicness comes to life.
What are your thoughts on these prequel comics? Let me know in the comments below!
- Josh Doherty