There is no denying that Kevin VanHook’s Superman & Batman vs. Vampires & Werewolves is a pretty stupid comic book story, by any definition of stupidity. As a counterpoint, however, it does feature Superman, Batman, vampires and werewolves. Versing each other. So, despite its best efforts to be boring and obnoxious, it can’t help but be a little bit awesome in spite of itself.
Look, I’m not stupid. I’ve been to Barnes and Noble and seen the displays filled with books that pretend zombies are real (an activity that used to be limited to a niche group of horror fanatics, in the pre-Zombie Survival Guide days). When I see something like that, I know I’m being pandered to in a cynical and condescending way, but god damn it, it works. It’s always a struggle not to leave the bookstore loaded up with ironically hip collections of haikus about Frankensteins and fake CSI reports about walking corpses. The fact is, no matter how much they’re oversaturated, watered down, memed-up, and Hot Topicked out by the mainstream media, monsters will never stop being cool. And neither will superheroes. So I will always give something like Superman & Batman vs. Vampires & Werewolves the benefit of the doubt.
Our story begins with Batman and a guy named Dimeter running into each other while investigating the same bloody corpse, which is how Batman meets most of his friends. The two immediately get into a pissing contest about who can be more mysterious and shadowy and of the night. Dimeter wins by disappearing through a wall, and Batman shrugs and drags the corpse back to the Batcave to play with. He makes this discovery:
Hey, VanHook: If this was a fat guy’s name in real life, that would be unescapable irony. But in this case, it’s a name you just made up for a character who you made up five minutes before that. That’s not irony – that’s you intentionally giving a character a funny name. There’s nothing wrong with that, but you can’t name a fat man Robin Baskin and then back away from it as if you’re ashamed of yourself. You should own that shit, man! Anyway, Batman also figured out that the guy had been eaten, puked in, and thrown off a roof, but that seemed less important to me than the retarded name.
Next we see Dimeter, who I’m sure you’ve all guessed by now is a vampire, hanging out with his werewolf friend. They allude to the fact that they’re searching for some professor and that they want to “kill his hairy pet” and then have an argument about whether it’s wise to bring Batman into this. My guess is that it would be pretty wise, because next we cut to Batman, who has already found the professor.
In addition to world’s-greatest-detectiving that this guy is some kind of necromancer, Batman also somehow deducts that he is responsible for the death of poor Coldstone Creamery. While Bruce skitters off to do some forensic work, Dr. Combs reveals that he has a basement filled with skeletons and bedridden vampires! Kooky!
So after conferring with Nightwing in the Batcave and figuring out that, yeah, Combs is a shitty dude, Batman returns to confront him. Guess what he finds? If you guessed Dr. Combs puking out a Lovecraftian hellbeast, that’s a pretty weird guess. But it’s right!
Batman pursues the beast, along the way meeting up with Dimeter. They seem to kick its ass, but then an even huger, Lovecraftier beast is wrecking havoc on a rooftop. I’m not sure where this second monster came from, but whatever, who gives a shit? What’s important is that up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Superman, here to help them fight the monster! But watch out Superman, you’re apparently in danger!
Superman’s vulnerable to magic now? What the fuck ever. I’m no comic book historian, but I would wager a guess that Superman has fought magical beings roughly 700 million times during his career in superheroics. I could be wrong. I guess you can make up whatever dumb shit you want whenever you want when you write comic books though, so okay, Superman’s allergic to magic now. You win, VanHook. Fuck you.
Dimeter explains to Batman that Dr. Combs, while trying to find entrance to the Netherworld, opened up a door to the Land of the Undead using his own body as the portal, and that all sorts of ghoulies and ghosties poured out of it. Dimeter insists that the door is closed now, but Batman points out that this theory contradicts the shit they just saw the guy barf up. While they are discussing this, Superman flies off and runs into my new favorite character in the DC Universe:
Chadd with two D’s! Just like me! It seems like the path to the drug store leads Chadd through some kind of spooky-ass cemetery, and the next thing you know Chadd is being attacked by a vampire so fat she’s almost definitely named after a frozen dessert of some kind. And this leads to my favorite comic book panel of all time (which you might recognize from my WordPress avatar):
What my WordPress avatar doesn’t show is that while Chadd’s God might not be listening, Superman sure is! After saving Chadd’s life and sending him off with a pat on the head, Superman is suddenly confronted by Dimeter’s wolfman friend from earlier. The werewolf manages to warn him to stay the fuck out of their business before Superman beats the living shit out of him, but just barely. Apparently werewolves don’t count as magic!
Just what the hell is going on here? What is Dr. Combs up to? How are Dimeter and the werewolf connected to this? Could the Amazing Jonathan beat Superman in a fight? Stay tuned, true believers, because tomorrow I will bring you the epic conclusion to the ridiculousness that is Superman & Batman vs. Vampires & Werewolves.
In the meantime, if you’ve ever wondered what I see when I close my eyes, it’s this: