WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Batman #42
DC fans know Superman has the power to kill Batman with a single punch - and he just did. Not in an Elseworlds 'what if?' story, an alternate timeline or dark future universe, but the current continuity of DC Comics. The Man of Steel hasn't gone homicidal, either, but fallen to Poison Ivy's control like the world around him. Everyone except Batman, of course. And Ivy's way of dealing with the Dark Knight's resistance is sure going to put a crimp in Batman and Catwoman's wedding plans.
For those who may not be up to date on Batman comics, the most powerful villain on Earth has turned out to be the least alien menace in DC's villain roster. By spreading her influence through all edible vegetation, Poison Ivy has taken over the world one meal at a time. Since Superman is never one to miss a square meal, even he has fallen under Ivy's control (not the first time). Which makes him Ivy's most powerful attack dog in bringing Batman under control.
And while Superman may know how to control his power... Ivy doesn't. A point Bruce Wayne uses to his advantage, pushing Ivy's temper until a punch from Superman puts an end to his life - and presumably, gives Batman the first step in his plan to stop her (with one serious problem).
Apparently, the humiliation of Batman beating Superman with a whistle was a serious blow to Superman's-- well, Ivy's ego. Batman and Catwoman had reached an uneasy truce to that point: Batman and Catwoman had used a vaccine against her manipulation of 'The Green,' and she was allowing them to go about their days in a world effectively populated by billions of Ivy's directly-mind-controlled love slaves. But Batman just had to push it by seeking out another boy who remained free due to a severe allergy to greens. To the detective-minded readers, it seemed Bruce was looking for a way to reverse Ivy's control.
Which is where she stepped in, and used the Green Lanterns and the rest of the Justice League to suspend Batman and Catwoman from a skyscraper. It's here, strung up and powerless, that Batman goads Ivy into lashing out, in the form of a Superman punch. A punch that immediately stuns Ivy and Catwoman... and results in a full-page from artist Mikel Janin showing the damage done to Bruce's face.
An image that we actually can't show here, since its graphic nature would definitely NOT be suitable for all ages. But make no mistake: writer Tom King and Janin's story answers the question "what would happen if Superman punched Batman's face without holding back" and the results are about what fans would expect.
The short answer? It kills Bruce, seemingly, in an instant. Fortunately, Poison Ivy now has every mind on Earth at her disposal. That includes surgeons... and sorcerers.
Ivy confirms to Catwoman that Bruce was killed, and eventually brought back into the land of the living by "magic. Science. Surgery. There's someone for everything." Hopefully the next chapters of the story will provide more details on exactly who succeeded in bringing Bruce back to life, and healing his face (and brain). Nevertheless, the point was made for any and all who debated whether Batman or Superman would win in a fight with the other - a single second's lapse killed Bruce instantly. He's still recovering from his severe head injuries, so it may be too son for him to even realize that life was blasted out of him by one Kryptonian fist.
But with a genius like Harley Quinn handling his rehab, things are bound to get better quickly... right?
Batman #42 is available now from DC Comics.