Ending On A High Note
Amazingly enough, Superman & Batman: Generations was first published in 1999. John Byrne's purpose was to see what it would look like if both The Man of Tomorrow and The Dark Knight aged in real time, instead of operating on a floating timeline. The last time I looked at a DC Universe timeline was around Zero Hour, where Clark and Bruce's respective careers were estimated at a decade. Which makes sense. A lot changes in ten years. If Superman and Batman are to stay relavent and contemporary, they have to adapt with the times. One of the rules, is not aging. The flipside of that coin is the periodically, the characters need to be rebooted for a younger, newer audience. This imaginary story takes away those rules to see what would happen.
The first story, Beginnings And Endings is set in 1999. Instead of a decade, Superman and Batman have been active for 60 years. Bruce Wayne has been missing for twenty years. No one knows about his meeting with The Demon's Head and his daughter, Talia. Clark has been a prisoner of the Phantom Zone for ten years.
The story opens with Batman/Bruce, Jr. - still rockin' the ShadowHawk look - standing before who he thinks to be Ra's al Ghul, who invites him to take his place. He reveals what actually happened when Bruce Wayne, Sr. was confronted, and presented with the challenge of The Lazarus Pit. Bruce and Ra's both enter the pit, but it is only Bruce that survives! And he has slowly, subtly turned al Ghul's operation around! And now, he wants to leave it all to his son so that he can return to his first love - fighting crime as The Batman.
He immediately returns to Gotham, liberates Superman, and the two - with Kyle Rayner's help - find one of Luthor's secret lairs, where The Man of Steel whips up a cure for his Gold Kryptonite exposure from Luthor's cufflinks ten years earlier; and a solution that gives his grandson, Knightwing meta-abilities as well.
Having lost his entire family, and the secret of his dual identity, Superman is liberated from Earth, and decides to strike out into the universe to see what is out there.
Nearly a millenium later, in 2919, Bruce Wayne catches up to Kal-El on a distant planet. Clark reminds Bruce of the very first time they met, in Gotham City in 1929. High schoolers Lois Lane and Clark Kent were just two of five essay winners to spend time at the gotham Gazette, where they met young Bruce Wayne. They also encountered a giant tobot operated by Lex Luthor. As Superboy soars into action, Bruce dons a Robin costume and the pair foil Luthor and rescue Lois.
Now, years later, The World's Finest is together again, joined by Lana Lang. The trio strike out into the universe seeking advanture!
After the darkness of issue three, this issue really comes together to end the series on a high note. Bruce defeats Ra's al Ghul, turns his operation around and leaves a thriving humanitarian enterprise to his son - on top of Wayne Enterprises. Superman completes his ten year sentence, regains his strength and vitality - gives his grandson super-powers -and soars to new heights!
In a flashback sequence, we get to see The World's Finest team come 'round full circle to a time before their "first" official meeting in issue one in 1939.
I really wish this could have become a monthly book. It would have been cool to see Clark and Bruce more in different time periods. But this will have to do.
This issue just adds the icing and the cherry on top to what can only be called super-dickery. From a certain point of view I can see Superman leaving Earth. There's nothing for him here anymore. Lois is gone; Joel and Kara are gone. He will pretty much outlive everyone he knows. But, he manages to chemically overcome Gold Kryptonite poisoning. Hey, how 'bout that cure for cancer so that your wife didn't have to suffer for a decade? Or is the moral of the story that cigarettes kill, and smokers die no matter what? I guess that is a reality, but it just seems a little convenient that here at the end Kal-El reconnects with Lana - who makes her FIRST appearance in the mini-series. Even the flashback shows that there is a connection and bond between Clark and Lois.
This is where hitting just the highlights doesn't seem to work.
Kyle Rayner's Green Lantern costume. It's a combination of Alan Scott's, the Green Lantern Corps, and his own in the main DCU. It is truly hideous. It would be one thing if it were a completely original design, but it's a combination of costumes and it just looks silly.
If you're a fan of the classic The World's Finest, Superman/Batman, The Batman Family, The Superman Family; if you like Silver Age stories, this is for you. It's nostalgic. It's sentimental.
It's a pretty good read.