Art by: Ardian Syaf, Vicente Cifuentes and Beth Sotelo
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: August 12, 2015
I think that the best and worst thing about the Truth story is the fact that each book involved is telling it's own unique story. While it annoys me that the books don't line up as neatly as I'd like, each writer gets to tell their own bit without being fully tied down to what the others are doing. No book shows this as much as Batman/Superman. While the other books deal with corrupt cops and hacker groups in the clouds, Greg Pak sent Superman underground to fight Ukar, the King of Subterranea. It was a cool shout out to Pak's Action Comics run, but an odd choice for the overall story. While this book hasn't been the strongest in the Truth lineup so far, I have to admit that I was looking forward to this issue if only to see what new craziness Pak cooks up for the former Man of Steel. Well, how crazy did it get? Let's find out...
While Batman is in the title of this book, this issue mainly focuses on Superman. That's a good thing because I really didn't like the way Pak presented Gordon last issue. He came off as a hard headed ass and while others (like Eric, on our podcast) may argue, it was Gordon that attacked Ukar and set the events of this issue in motion. Those events are Ukar preparing for war and Clark plummeting through the Gotham underground, miles below the surface.
While Gordon maintains radio contact, I really enjoyed Clark's inner monologue here. He is still trying to deal with losing his identity and powers and this whole issue has a great, continuing exposition about it. Greg Pak really does a good job showing what having powers (and not having them) means to Superman.
The actual story in this issue wasn't as good, however. It involves Clark disguising himself as one of Ukar's troops and endearing himself to an unusual human populace down below. It's kind of an underground Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome and if you have yearned to see Superman picking up huge piles of crap, this is the issue for you. The idea that Clark identifies with these former criminals felt really forced. In fact, the whole Clark in disguise bit in this issue just felt silly and when he gets taken away as a deserter, I just shook my head.
I also shook my fist at the continuing fear/hate surrounding Clark Kent/Superman. Why is everyone so against him? I know he is an alien who was hiding among us, but he's still Superman. It just upsets me that both Clark Kent and Superman are looked at individually as great guys, but combine the two and you have a dirty alien scumbag who must be trying to take our jobs and women. We get to see this attitude through Lucius Fox and Perry White this issue. Lois Lane shows up and does a great job in support of our hero...and looks like she is on the Gordon/Batman case now. Plus, we get a little cameo from Metallo and I'll never argue against that.
Back to Subterrania, Ukar is ready for his war to begin and Clark is having a bit of trouble picking what side he wants to be on. The issue ends with another crazy cliffhanger and this one tops last month's by a country mile. It doesn't make much sense to me, but it should be cool to see what happens.
I can't say I loved this issue. As I write this, I'm still not sure I even liked it. I did like how Pak portrayed Clark and he makes amends for his awful Jim Gordon from last issue as well. It's just that this Subterrania story feels silly and almost make believe compared with what the other Truth books are doing. I give Greg Pak kudos for trying something different, but I feel like it's missing its mark.
I did enjoy the art in this issue. While the dark, confined spaces of Subterrania didn't do anyone on the art team any favors, they all do a good job with what they were given. The character work was really good, especially with the undercover Clark and I like the look of the Subterranian warriors.
Bits and Pieces:
Greg Pak continues his story that is off the rails crazy compared with the other Truth issues and while it's different, it's not great. Pak does a great job showing Superman's thoughts and fears over his depowerment, but this whole Subterrania story feels off. Then, just when you thought it couldn't get crazier, Pak hits us with another cliffhanger that may be ridiculous, but has me curious for next issue.