WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Batman #42
Well, Batman just showed he’s too smart for Superman (with one important catch). It’s the one question fans have asked time and again: who would win in a fight between DC’s Man of Steel and the Dark Knight? Heck, it even formed the basis for the second DCEU movie.
The question is revisited in this week’s Batman #42 by Tom King and Mikel Janin. To be fair to the Man of Steel, he’s not at his best; like the rest of the world, Superman is under the control of Poison Ivy. Only Batman and Catwoman are free, and Ivy has already stressed that she isn’t too worried about the threat they pose. But Ivy may still have her suspicions, as the new issue shows her using the mind-controlled Justice League to carefully monitor Batman and his future bride, Catwoman.
Needless to say, she thinks Superman is the perfect choice to tail the Dark Knight. But it’s Batman who gets the last laugh.
The issue opens with Superman permanently stationed over Wayne Manor, and when Bruce and Selina go out for a drive in the Batmobile, he tails them. Batman, of course, has always been presented as one of the world’s smartest tacticians. An angry shout from Catwoman gives him inspiration, and he begins to put a plan together: first has to get Ivy angry. And the easiest way to enrage the green-thumbed supervillain is to resist her plotting. Taking Superman out should do it.
But how do you deal with a problem that powerful? Over the years, Batman has tried many ways of beating Superman, most involving Kryptonite. This time, though, he’s dealing with a Superman who is under Ivy’s control. That means she’s not used to handling the Man of Steel’s power levels, and Batman can use a strategy that wouldn’t normally work.
First, Batman leans in to tell Catwoman something “I don’t want her to hear.” Needless to say, Ivy’s curiosity is piqued, and she uses Superman’s super-hearing to listen in ever more closely. Batman’s voice gets lower and lower, until Superman – and, through him, Ivy – is hanging on his every word. That’s when Batman gives a high-pitched whistle. Superman is so focused that the shock knocks him out.
It’s possibly the most embarrassing defeat the Man of Steel has ever suffered. To Batman’s credit, he stresses that he’d never have gotten away with that if Superman had been in his right mind. “Clark knows when to listen and when not to listen,” he explains. With Superman’s powers under Ivy’s control, though, Batman was able to deploy a simple strategy he’d no doubt considered before.
This trick is all the more effective when compared to all the other “Batman versus Superman” matches, though. The Dark Knight normally relies on complex plans, exo-armors, and Kryptonite. This issue reveals that those aren’t necessary because of Superman’s powers; rather, they’re necessary because of his character and intelligence. Superman isn’t just formidable because he’s the most powerful man on Earth, but because he’s a good man with a smart mind. In a strange way, this amusing victory is something of a backhanded compliment.
Superman will probably have a serious headache when Ivy’s control is broken.
You can pick up Batman #41 at your local comic store or via ComiXology.
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