Art by: Ardian Syaf, Cliff Richards, Vicente Cifuentes, Beth Sotelo and Rob Leigh
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: November 11, 2015
I was not a fan of the Truth story in this book or as a whole, so I was pleasantly surprised last month when I got back to enjoying some Batman/Superman action. Actually, it was more of a Bat Family/Superman issue and that there my friends is why I liked it so much. Batgirl teaming up with a Bat-Tech using Clark Kent was cool enough, but throw in a cliffhanger promising Dick Grayson and Jason Todd and I really was excited for this month's adventure. Oh yea, did I mention Vandal Savage? It may sound like a cheesy infomercial ("But wait, there's more..."), but believe me, this kind of excitement is well overdue in any Superman book these days. So, did this issue continue the trend and get this book back to one I look forward to each and every month? Let's find out...
This issue picks up with the very unlucky people of Siberia from last issue. Like it's not bad enough to just be "the very unlucky people of Siberia", they also are pretty much the slaves to Vandal Savage. If you've seen Bug's Life (or the Magnificent Seven...or the Seven Samurai...or Bloodsport) then you know the story. Vandal Savage has told the town to gather all the uranium from some abandoned nukes and it better be done when he comes back in a week, or else. What does that have to do with Bloodsport? Brick not hit back! Thankfully for the village, Superman and his buds are there to help, but do they want to be helped?
As far as beginnings, this one was okay. Greg Pak sets up the idea that these people have been sheltered from the outside world and have no idea that Superman has no (limited?) powers, but goes against that a couple of times later in the issue. However, the part when everyone works together to stop a potential nuclear disaster was the highlight of the issue.
After the crisis is averted, they get down to the let's help the village defeat Vandal Savage business. Defeat is a pretty strong word when you're dealing with an immortal and after some contemplation, realize that the best plan is to run and hide. Dick Grayson is put in charge of coming up with new identities for the people of the village while Batgirl tries to figure out and possibly rig Savage's teleportation device. Meanwhile, Jason Todd feels left out and comes up with a great plan to explode a bunch of nukes as Vandal arrives, but that plan is shot down because...you know, it's god damn crazy!
While this is going on, Pak makes us care about the villagers by showing a young boy (the one Vandal Savage promised to flay...I know, nice guy) stab Superman repeatedly with a fork. It's bad enough, but the art makes him look like a complete psycho! Maybe the plan to get these people out of Siberia is the right one...they might all go The Shining pretty damn soon.
Up until this point, the issue was okay at best. I liked seeing the Bat Family work with Superman and my only real complaint was the decision to have Dick Grayson look so much like Superman. I wish the issue ended right then and there because all of a sudden the gang was attacked by...
Skeleton Warriors. No, Shadow Monsters. They sure look like skeletons, but Superman yells "Shadow Monsters" and the man knows what he's talking about so I'll go with it. To say the issue devolved into an odd fight with strange logic and bad dialogue would be...actually, it would be right on. Then, just to piss me off a little more, Jim Gordon and his Bat Chappie suit shows up.
Superman called him and with Batgirl and Red Hood there, all I can say is, Awkward! Superman has given Jim some Vandal Savage intel and now that he's on the scene, he uses those detective skills his so known for. Hmm...unguarded nuclear missiles? Shadow Monsters? Vandal Savage? He puts them all together to figure out that Vandal Savage is up to something involving nuclear missiles and Shadow Monsters. Great job. Then he blasts the snow and ice where the Shadow Monsters were attacking from and wallah...Futuristic Nazi airship and artificial sun. Why didn't the sun melt the snow? Maybe we'll figure that out next month.
I really wanted to like this issue going in and while there are some fun ingredients here, the final product was pretty bad. It doesn't help that the issue is only setup for a big battle with Vandal Savage, but when Batman showed up the whole thing went off the rails. I have said it since Gordon became Batman and I'll say it again...Greg Pak cannot figure out Gordon's voice and he comes off as a horrible person in this book. I understand that he's new to the Batman game, but he's still Jim Gordon under that mecha monstrosity. When is he going to act like it? The issue does set up a crazy battle next issue and I hope we get it because it really does sound like fun.
Ardian Syaf and Cliff Richards split art duty on this issue and while I really liked Syaf's work, I could have done without Richards'. His characters look "plastic" and the book takes a noticeable downswing in quality when he takes over.
Bits and Pieces:
Greg Pak uses this issue to set up a big fight with Vandal Savage, but unfortunately doesn't stop there. Batman shows up (his name is on the marquee, you know) and this issue goes down the tubes. By the end, I'd pretty much forgotten about the cool Vandal Savage storyline and just wondered what the hell happened and why a sun didn't melt snow. I still want to see when Savage returns, but I can certainly wait the month to see it. The art was also lacking and in the end, I can't recommend it. Just grab something else this week and remember...Brick not hit back!