‘Batman/Superman Vol. 1 Cross World': Preview Jae Lee sketches, extras

April 28, 2014 | 12:00 p.m.
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WayneTech board member Ralph Mangubat encounters Catwoman in 'Batman/Superman' No. 1. (DC Entertainment)

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A variant cover for 'Batman/Superman' No. 2. (Giuseppe Camuncoli with Daniel Brown / DC Entertainment)

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A variant cover for 'Batman/Superman' No. 4. (Tony S. Daniel with Tomeu Morey / DC Entertainment)

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Clark Kent gets a firsthand look at Gotham City in a sketch from "Batman/Superman Vol. 1: Cross World." (DC Entertainment)

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Greg Pak and Jae Lee discuss the importance of properly depicting origin stories in this page from "Batman/Superman Vol. 1: Cross World." (DC Entertainment)

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Writer Greg Pak maps out the action for a scene alongside an early sketch from "Batman/Superman Vol 1: Cross World." (DC Entertainment)

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Writer Greg Pak and artist Jae Lee discuss a sensitive scene from "Batman/Superman Vol. 1: Cross World." (Jae Lee / DC Entertainment)

Batman and Superman always have had a complicated relationship. Practical allies and philosophical antagonists, the pair has formed a yin-yang of comic book justice. And last year, thanks to the New 52 universe, the original odd couple was treated to a brand new origin tale.

This week, DC will release “Batman/Superman Vol. 1: Cross World,” a collection of the story arc originally laid out in “Batman/ Superman” Nos. 1-4 and the Darkseid Villains Month issue, which depicts an edgy new take on how the two heroes first came to work together.

Hero Complex readers can check out an exclusive look at never-before-seen pencil sketches and scripts for the anticipated release in the gallery above.

Cover sketches for Batman/Superman No. 1-4 (Jae Lee/DC Entertainment)

Cover sketches for “Batman/Superman” No. 1-4. (Jae Lee/DC Entertainment)

The sketches offer an intricate look at how the stories came together and how writer Greg Pak (“X-Treme X-Men,” “World War Hulk”) and artist Jae Lee (“Before Watchmen: Ozymandias,” “Inhumans“) collaborated to create a new take on one of the most famous pairings in the comic universe.

Pak spoke with Hero Complex last year about being tapped to re-interpret the meeting of the two icons. “Superman and Batman were at the top of my list of DC characters I hoped to have a chance to write someday, so my head just about popped off when I was offered the ‘Batman/Superman’ book,” he said at the time. “It is indeed a huge blast tackling such iconic characters — particularly in the New 52, where I’ve been encouraged to think big and take risks while exploring the meaty emotional questions of what really makes these characters tick. It’s my favorite kind of writing and I couldn’t be happier.”

The Man of Steel and Caped Crusader shared the spotlight on covers of “World’s Finest Comics” (originally known as “World’s Best Comics”) as far back as 1941, and they first teamed up for a story in 1952’s “Superman” No. 76. In that issue, the pair meets on a cruise ship when their alter egos are forced to share a cabin due to an overbooking error. (Bruce Wayne couldn’t pull some strings to get his own room?) They eventually team up to save Lois Lane.

Subsequently, 1958’s “World’s Finest Comics” No. 94 saw the first of many retcons in the duo’s origin story, laying out a different but still lighthearted tale of their first meeting.

The New 52 story line is decidedly darker than those escapades. After a tense initial meeting, the two embark on an adventure that sees them with wrestling with their own identities, in addition to a familiar rogues gallery of foes, and, of course, each other.

“Batman/Superman Vol. 1: Cross World” hits stores April 30.

What are your favorite Batman and Superman stories? Let us know in the comments below.

– Justin Sullivan | @LATHerocomplex

RECENT AND RELATED

5. “Man of Steel” No. 1, Special Collector’s Edition, 1986 After DC’s “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” writer and artist John Byrne relaunched Superman for the modern age, beginning with his 1986 limited series “The Man of Steel.” Byrne chronicled Superman’s origin with some changes from the hero’s previous iteration: Kal-El, the sole survivor of Krypton, is rocketed to Earth as a fetus in a “birthing matrix” and officially “born” an American. He gains powers gradually, ultimately becoming the Man of Steel. Byrne’s cover marked the beginning of a new era for Superman. (DC Entertainment)Superman at 75: 10 key comic covers

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