THIS WEEK: The Infinite Frontier expands further as the first issue of Gene Luen Yang and Ivan Reis’s Batman/Superman explores uncharted corners of the Multiverse! Does the new creative team’s debut have us hooked?
(Warning: the following contains spoilers for Batman/Superman #16. If you want a quick, spoiler-free buy/pass recommendation, check out the bottom of the article for our final verdict.)
Writer: Gene Luen Yang
Penciller: Ivan Reis
Inker: Danny Miki
Colorist: Sabine Rich
Letterer: Saida Temofonte
Cover Artist: Ivan Reis, Danny Miki, & Sabine Rich
Of all of the titles and creative teams first announced as part of DC’s Infinite Frontier initiative, Batman/Superman was maybe my most anticipated. As someone who’s always wanted a book that explored that various corners of the DC multiverse, the promise of a series that features alternate Earth versions of the man of steel and the dark knight, on previously-unseen worlds where anything is possible, was truly exciting. The inclusion of new creative team Gene Luen Yang, Ivan Reis, Danny Miki, Sabine Rich, and Saida Temofonte got me even more hyped for where the series was going to go. Now that their first issue on Batman/Superman is here, I’m pleased to say they did not disappoint in the slightest.
Gene Luen Yang has already shown he has a strong grasp of the relationship between Batman and Superman in the Future State: Batman/Superman series, and his work on Superman, particularly the recent Superman Smashes the Klan series, has been critically-acclaimed. The alternate earths of Batman/Superman #16 gives us a man of steel akin to Yang’s latter series, as well as the closest thing to the classic Batman and Robin team that we’ve seen in years.
Yang has said that these versions of the characters are inspired by their respective ‘40s serials, and the nod to that material is evident without being off-putting or critical to understanding his take on them for those who are unfamiliar with those stories. For those who do know those stories, Yang puts an interesting twist on some of the villains he’s adapting, and who are making their first comic book appearances. The decision to bring modern-day technology into essentially ‘Golden Age’-style stories was also a smart way to keep things feeling fresh for the characters. Yang’s chosen structure for the story is also fascinating, with parallel narratives for Superman and Batman & Robin that ultimately collide in an unexpected and highly entertaining way before issue’s end.
What is there to say about Ivan Reis, Danny Miki, and Sabine Rich’s artwork that hasn’t already been said? The trio are a dream team of classic superhero storytelling. The filmstrip structure of the dual narratives doesn’t leave a ton of room for crazy layouts, but it’s a wonderful showcase for the team’s storytelling abilities, and they use the format in various clever ways to keep the pages visually interesting.
Coming off of a long run on Superman, Reis, Miki, and Rich feel right at home with the world of Metropolis, though there are also enough differences here that it doesn’t feel like they’re just doing more of the same thing. Rich’s color work on the two narratives is particularly strong, easily visually differentiating the bright, primary-colored world of Superman from the darker, slightly muddier world of the dynamic duo. The visual representation of the literal collision of the two stories is wonderful, and the final page of the issue raises a ton of questions about what’s going on and how the way it’s being presented ties into things.
Batman/Superman #16 is an utter delight, and everything I hoped it would be. Yang, Reis, and co. present an entertaining story in an interesting way, and set up many mysteries to be explored as the series progresses. I can’t wait to read more of this and to see where it all goes.
Final Verdict: BUY.
- Action Comics #1029 wraps Phillip Kennedy Johnson, Phil Hester, and Eric Gapstur‘s two-part “The Golden Age” story with an interesting exploration of the relationship between Superman and his son. As an opening arc for Johnson’s run on the Super-titles it was an entertaining story, though it also felt a bit like a warm-up for what’s to come. Still, it’s always a pleasure to see Hester drawing the heroes of the DCU. The Midnighter backup story from Becky Cloonan, Michael W. Conrad, and Michael Avon Oeming was also delightful, and did a nice job tying the events of his Future State story to what’s happening in the present day.
- Mariko Tamaki, Dan Mora, and Jordie Bellaire‘s debut on Detective Comics is a blast from start to finish, and clearly lays out the team’s plan for the series. If the Batman title is the book for huge action and non-stop Bat-madness, Detective looks like it’s going to be more street-level, as this issue is essentially about Bruce Wayne getting to know his new neighbors and stumbling into a murder mystery. The Robin backup from Joshua Williamson and Gleb Melnikov did a great job getting me excited for Damian’s upcoming ongoing series, with a final-page reveal that made my ’90s-kid jaw drop. They had my curiosity, but now they have my attention.
- Harley Quinn #1 expands on Harl’s new status quo, with Stephanie Phillips and Riley Rossmo guiding the character on her chosen path of redemption. Phillips’s dialogue for Harley is a joy to read, and Rossmo’s artwork is bombastic and always visually interesting, if a style that takes a little getting used to. This is a creative team that has a clear vision for where their series is going and the talent to keep readers hooked along the way.
- I really like the concept behind Teen Titans Academy, and Tim Sheridan, Rafa Sandoval, and Jordi Tarragona‘s first issue of the series is certainly an ambitious one, building on what’s was shown during Future State and seeding new mysteries. There still feels like there’s something not quite clicking with this book for me, though. Maybe it’s the sheer volume of new characters introduced, to the point that I’m probably going to need a checklist at some point to keep track of all of them. Or probably it’s the continued reliance on a Red X mystery that hasn’t been explained beyond the highest level – we know he’s a cautionary tale, but readers still don’t know who Red X was or what he did, and it’s frustrating to read a comic where information that all of the characters seem to know is being purposefully withheld from readers. Whatever it is, I like Sandoval and Tarragona’s artwork a lot here, and I want to get into the story of this book as well. Hopefully it does more to hook me within the next couple of issues.
- The Batman: Black and White series continues with an issue featuring stories by Williamson and Rossmo, Chip Zdarsky and Nick Bradshaw, Becky Cloonan and Terry & Rachel Dodson, Karl Kerschl, and Daniel Warren Johnson. There’s a nice variety of stories here, and I particularly enjoyed Kerschl’s ghost story, which also featured Gotham Academy favorite Maps Mizoguchi.
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