Written by: Greg Pak
Art by: Cliff Richards, Jack Herbert, Beth Sotelo, Wil Quintana and Rob Leigh
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: December 9, 2015
If I would sit down and label each of the Super Family books involved in the DC You Truth story, I would probably file Batman/Superman under the popcorn movie header. It's been a silly, over-the-top, action flick and while it hasn't always been good, it has had it's fun moments. If you forget what's going on in this book (and with this kind-of crossover story, that's not surprising), Superman, Batgirl, Jason Todd and Dick Grayson are in Siberia trying to pull off a Seven Samurai scenario against Vandal Savage. If that doesn't sound like enough fun, there is a Nazi airship, Jim Gordon Batman and that pesky artificial sun from the beginning of the Truth story involved. The other books leading to this issue have begun giving us a glimpse at the overall story so I was even more interested to read this one when it came out. Now that I did, was it any good? Let's find out...
The issue opens with what must be the first time that Jim Gordon got to see Superman live. It involved an attack by those generic Supremacists that we keep getting shoved in our faces and while I wasn't expecting a scene like this in the current story, it was okay. The whole thing boiled down to Superman having to chose between saving Jimmy Olsen or Gotham. Of course, Superman chose the hero's choice and lucky for Jimmy, Batman was hanging out waiting to lend a hand. While I'd really like to know why Superman brought Jimmy to Gotham in the first place, it was cool seeing Gordon watch as the World's Finest gained each other's trust.
We then travel to Siberia and Gordon laments over the fact that "his Superman" is a lame version with no powers. Boo Hoo! I have not liked Gordon in any of the Superman books, but he has been the worst in this one. In fact, he's been a huge ass! This issue seems to be trying to change that.
As far as Vandal Savage is concerned, Superman spells out the plan against the villain and it's as straight forward as can be. It boils down to "Stop Vandal and find out what he's up to" Alright. Everything seems so disconnected from the save the village stuff this story started with. Maybe it's just me, but this issue needed more kids stabbing Superman with a fork.
We then get the opening old school Batman/Superman scene again, but this time through Clark's eyes. I guess Greg Pak thought this was very important, but I think everyone got it the first time through. Superman then steps up to the being an ass plate and knocks one out of the park by complaining about the new Robo Batman. We get it, these two aren't thrilled with one another.
Gordon jumps back in the lead by leaving Clark hanging, but they have to put the contest on hold while they teleport off to Vandal Savage's base of operations. Vandal immediately attacks Clark and Gordon as they try to rip his ship apart. They don't get the entire job done, but they give themselves some time at least.
When Vandal arrives by airship, the village is waiting for him with the uranium he demanded. It appears that Red Hood and Grayson are dead and Batman and Superman are hiding in the ice (what does that really mean?) miles away. After Vandal Savage conveniently explains what the Nazi ship and artificial sun are for, Batgirl is seen and I was left wondering if that was a mistake or actually part of the plan. It doesn't matter as Batman and Superman teleport in and round two begins.
I may not have been on the edge of my seat so far, but seeing Vandal jump in the Nazi ship and prepare to fire on the heroes was exciting enough. However, Batgirl has switched the gravity and the polarity of the guns and rocket engines making up mean down and cats marry dogs. What I'm saying is that when Vandal presses the gun trigger, it causes the engines to fire and sends him high in the sky.
In an awful move from someone so smart, Vandal rips apart the ship he's flying in and it blows up. Hmmm...that was a bit unexpected. The entire scene (and issue) are all for naught, though, when the heroes agree that Vandal probably teleported before the ship exploded. So, this issue was pretty meaningless? Yes and no.
If you wanted more advancement of the ongoing Superman story, then this issue was a waste. If you wanted Jim Gordon and Clark Kent to become best buds, this may be the issue for you. I am in the first camp so you can guess how I feel. I say that, but the two had to be properly introduced eventually or this book really has nowhere to go. I just didn't like the idea that Jim and Clark never met and why couldn't Pak (or the editors really) let Batgirl see that her Dad was Batman? Maybe they are saving it for her solo book, but with Gordon's identity quickly becoming Gotham's worst kept secret, I want his daughter to know the truth.
The issue ends with another flashback Batman/Superman love fest and by now, I was getting a bit angry about it. This all felt like a forced way to get Batman and Superman together for future issues, but it's at the expense of the current storyline. The issue ends with zero new information going forward, but at least Gordon and Clark are becoming BFFs, right?
I guess you can already tell that I wasn't the biggest fan of this issue. It was so forced and telegraphed and that usually isn't Greg Pak's way. Why add Batgirl, Red Hood and Dick Grayson into this story if you aren't going to use them? Why not get them in on the introductions going on? If you only wanted Superman and Batman to make like Run DMC and the Beastie Boys and get back to being Together Forever, you might be able to overlook this issue's shortcomings. I couldn't.
I also couldn't overlook the art in this issue. Cliff Richards' work is not up to par and I can only hope that Ardian Syaf gets back on this book stat! It's the faces of the characters that threw me off. They look so plastic. I did like Jack Herbert's work in the flashback scenes, but they were too quick to change my opinion overall.
Bits and Pieces:
I understand what Greg Pak is doing here, but I question the timing. Instead of pushing the current Superman story that we've been forced into forward, Pak uses this issue to get Jim Gordon and Clark Kent on the same page when it comes to their part in being the new version of the World's Finest. While I'm sure that those who want the old Superman back will like this book more than me, I want to finish this current story in a decent fashion before moving along to the inevitable return that we all want. All that aside, this issue is a story telling mess with art that doesn't do it any favors so I'm sure you can figure out that I can't recommend this issue.