I’m not entirely sure what’s going on at all times during Greg Pak’s Batman/Superman but I do know two things for sure: Superman and Batman have met and fought their Earth-2 selves no thanks to a demon that has possessed both Catwoman and Lois Lane, and the last issue ended with a badass Wonder Woman riding in on a Pegasus. Despite my own confoundedness in the series, I’ve pressed on, not just for the love of Jae Lee’s artwork each month, but out of sheer curiosity for what madness Pak could throw out there next.
Batman/Superman #3 is a bit of breather in this regard, dealing almost entirely in flashback sequences to the first time an extraordinary farm boy named Clark met an overly confident rich kid named Bruce. Canon is most certainly muddied here as our two title characters interact as adolescents, forming a foundation for their friendship forged out a mutual understanding of each other’s isolation and the fact that even in their first meeting, Bruce did not fear Clark despite sensing something different in him. This resounds heavily in the situation developing in the present timeline elsewhere in the issue where both Superman of Earth-2 and Superman of our earth are looking for Batman, who is known to be in possession of kryptonite, but could also know of an even more dangerous weapon hidden away on Earth.
Just as Batman/Superman #3 is split between the present and the past, so too are the artwork duties. Jae Lee handles the present timeline just as he has been doing since the first issue while Yildiray Cinar steps in to cover the flashback sequences. Normally I’m disappointed not to see Jae Lee’s artwork coursing through the entirety of a book he is on but in this instance, Cinar’s watercolor-esque painterly style is much better suited for the childhood depictions of Clark and Bruce. There’s an innocence that Cinar is able to capture that would have been lost in Lee’s harsher lines and bleak backdrops.
Although Batman/Superman #3 is ultimately just a stepping-stone toward the bigger bad arriving in the next issue, establishing the basis for the friendship between both title characters is just as important as what’s to come plot-wise. There’s still much to be confused about with regards to the plot, but as the end promises the demise of one or more of the multiples of characters, that might not be an issue starting in the series’ second arc. As demonstrated in this issue, Bruce has no problem taking down Clark if need be.