"Refracted": Since yesterday, Superman and Batman have met for the first time both in and out of costume, but have only now realized that their costumed and plain-clothes identities are one and the same. What forced this realization was an equal
- You're superman, dammit! You do the impossible!
- — Batman
Appearing in "Refracted"
Synopsis for "Refracted"
Since yesterday, Superman and Batman have met for the first time both in and out of costume, but have only now realized that their costumed and plain-clothes identities are one and the same. What forced this realization was an equally forced trip to a parallel world where older versions of their selves are friends. Unfortunately, their younger counter-parts do not get along nearly as well.
Since arriving there, they have learned of a super-weapon powered by a crystal which the mysterious Kaiyo claims will either save or destroy their worlds.
The elder Batman explains that the crystal magnifies energy like nothing else in the universe, defying physics by what can only be described as magic. He and his Superman are intent on destroying it, for that reason. Desperately, the inexperienced Batman begs for the chance to take the crystal back to his world, given Kaiyo's warning that it could be used to defeat Darkseid. His doppelganger assures him that he will not need the crystal, so long as he remains friends with the young Superman.
Both Clark and Bruce are surprised when their elder counterparts attack them, warning that the crystal is too dangerous in the wrong hands. Woozily, Bruce realizes that this other world's heroes want to destroy the crystal because the military developed it to use against them. They just want to remain the most powerful beings on this planet. What, he asks of them, will they do when they lose control? Who will keep them in check? Listening, Clark realizes that Bruce isn't just talking about the other world's heroes. Bruce is just as worried about his strength, too.
Nearby, Lois Lane and Catwoman spot Wonder Woman battling with Kaiyo, and stop to help. Unfortunately, Lois' idea of help means firing rockets at both of them, with the expectation that Diana won't care that she's about to get blown up.
Meanwhile, Bruce and Clark attempt to prove that they are strong enough to fight with their older selves, and in the process, Clark manages to get his hands on the crystal. He is not expecting it when a sudden jolt of energy fills his body. In that moment, he remembers how happy he was to see his parents alive on this world, and with horror, he feels the crystal's power reaching across reality to bring his parents back to him. Realizing what's happening, Bruce punches Clark in the face, trying to snap him out of it, and prevent him from resurrecting his parents - especially in their advanced stages of decay. By touching Clark, though, the energy enters his body, and he begins to take on the appearance of a real bat. Finally, the elder Superman knocks both men away from the crystal, dispelling the magical manifestations.
Annoyed, Slade Wilson decides to put an end to the display going on around the crystal, and decides to kill all of the Supermen and Batmen with the superweapon. His first target is his own world's Superman, who warns his companions not to help him, but to save Lois instead. As the elder Superman is rocketed into the sky by the weapon's blast, the younger makes a leap toward the crashing bat-plane. Unfortunately, Clark is not yet able to fly, and struggles to make the jump. While he does manage to grab onto the plane, he can't change its trajectory. From below, Bruce shouts that he has to fly to do so. If his elder self can do it - if Superman can do it - then Clark can do it. With that, musters the willpower to actually fly, and gets the plane to a safe landing. Meanwhile, the elder Batman uses a Waynetech satellite to destroy the crystal from space. Unfortunately, this means that Clark and Bruce can't take it for themselves, to protect against Darkseid.
Meanwhile, Wonder Woman is frustrated when Kaiyo simply stops fighting. She explains that the destruction of the Chaos Shard was a contest to determine which of the two worlds has the best champions. While this world's heroes are certainly stronger, they destroyed the shard, which means they'll never be ready to defeat Darkseid. The younger heroes, though, they wanted to use it, and proved that they are ruthless and dangerous - exactly what will be needed to face the lord of Apokolips. And because they will survive, she will take up residence on their world. With that, she begins to erase their memories, and send them home.
In the moments before they are forced apart, Clark tries to make his elder self remember what happened, so that he will survive Darkseid. His counterpart instead tries to teach Clark that while he is different and dangerous, he did the right thing when the time came. Unfortunately, neither will remember each other's message.
The next day, Clark and Bruce meet again, in the same place they had the day before. While Clark is there on assignment, covering Bruce Wayne's advancements in robotic technology, he really came to check in on the boy Zack that they had seen being bullied previously. They watch as young Zack warns his bullies that he will break their noses if they provoke him one more time. Bruce expects Clark to intervene again, there, but he doesn't. Both watch as a bully does call Zack names, and receives the forewarned punch in the face. Clark supposes that Bruce must have taught him how to punch like that.
As the men part ways, neither sees that Zack's body is host to Kaiyo the trickster.
- This book was first published on October 16, 2013.
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