Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Batman / Superman #15 Review

Grundy Go BOOM!

Written By: Joshua Williamson

Art By: Andrei Bressan

Colors By: Alejandro Sánchez

Lettering By: John J. Hill

Cover Price: $3.99

Release Date: December 22, 2020

Batman / Superman #15 brings the World's Finest together to help the current Solomon Grundy cool off before he goes nuclear.  We learn that each reincarnation of Grundy comes with some random quirk, and this time just so happens to be a nuclear energy buildup that threatens to take out half of North America when he blows. Poison Ivy grudgingly lends a hand and concludes they can diffuse the situation by getting Grundy to the swamp that "birthed" him. It's a mad dash to get Grundy home before he goes BOOM! Of course, the Secret Society of Super-Villains sees this as an opportunity to use WMD Grundy for their own nefarious purposes and show up at the worst possible time.

Was It Good?

Yes. It's sorta silly but in a goofy, fun way. The premise is simple enough to enjoy without having to think too hard about it.  Solomon Grundy's lore gets a little bit of added nuance and depth that make his appearance here unique, and the World's Finest duo gets a little bonding time.

We open with a brief flashback of childhood Bruce Wayne daydreaming as he looks out on a snowy Winter Wonderland from his mansion window. It's a little bit of setup that won't pay off until the end of this issue.

Cut to the current time period and Batman greets Superman on another snowy day outside of Arkham Asylum. Batman was originally brought in to help with Solomon Grundy who's strapped to a restraining device that looks uncomfortably like an electric chair. Through a torrent of exposition from the Arkham staff, one Colonel Jonas whose presence is never explained, and Batman, Superman is informed that Grundy's body is building exponentially increasing levels of toxic radiation. If he blows, the explosion would take out half of America.

Superman is quick to affirm he has no intention of killing Grundy, and Batman agrees but also opts for a second opinion. Through even more exposition, we learn that Grundy has a tenuous connection to the Green, and Poison Ivy is brought down from her cell to consult. Her connection with plantlife, combined with her scientific expertise in Biology, lead her to conclude that the Green can reconstitute Grundy into his next iteration, diffusing the "bomb" in the process.

Up to this point, the setup is a lot of exposition with an explanation that's held together with more substance than three paperclips and used chewing gum strung together. If you don't mind the pseudo-silly-science theories and just go with "Grundy Go Boom!" it doesn't really need a whole lot of explanation to get to the main event, but if you try to analyze it deeply, you're just going to get irritated. It's a leave-your-brain-at-the-door kind of story, and if you're okay with that, you'll enjoy it.

A quick word on the art, I'm not super familiar Bressan's work but the character designs are eye-catching. Superman and Batman both look stout and beefy, and Bressan's not afraid to pack some curves on Ivy. It may seem odd to point out, but everyone in this comic has notably beefier lower sections. I recall noticing the very first panel where Superman shows up - "Dang! Superman has NOT been skipping leg day." It's a nice change of pace to see super characters with a physique that reflects their athletic nature.

Back to it.

Before Ivy is returned to her cell, she warns the super duo that word is already out about Grundy's condition and they better get a move on because, as a former member of the Secret Society of Super-Villains, Grundy is considered their property and they want his weaponized body.

Superman offers to fly Grundy back to the swamp at super speed but the scientists conveniently explain that too much movin' and shakin' could destabilize Grundy. Batman prepares the Bat-jet as a transport, and they fly off with Superman running interference in case the villains show up.
And of course, the villains show up.

Superman handles the villains easily but the sheer numbers overwhelm him enough for the Bat-jet to take a hit. In a bizarre scene out of Dr. Strangelove, Batman ejects and rides Grundy in a strapped chair to the ground with bat glider wings attached. If there's a down to this issue, this is it. you can't go through the machinations of setting up a stabilizing transport and then rough glide Grundy to the ground like he's a 600-pound paper airplane without calling shenanigans. The eye-rolling was a bit much through this section, so let's move on.

On the ground, the villains use some high-tech weapons to briefly stun the World's Finest. Their leader, Deadline, tries to coax Grundy to follow him, but Grundy suddenly smashes him into the ground. Grundy knows he needs help, and the Green is calling to him. Fortunately, Batman crashed them within walking distance of the right, swampy spot, and Superman leads him over the ridge where Swamp Thing is waiting to greet them.

Swamp Thing takes over and lays Grundy to rest in the swamp where the buildup is snuffed out and Grundy waits to arise again in a new incarnation. We close this issue with a pause and a rest where Batman retells how he never had a snowball fight when he was a kid. Superman knocks that particular item off Bruce's bucket list.

Bits and Pieces:

Batman / Superman #15, available from DC Comics on December 22nd, 2020, run offense and defense on a mission of mercy for DC's favorite swamp zombie. The simple story is fine for what it is as long as you don't think about it too much, especially when the silliness gets turned up to 11 in a few spots. The art is bold and memorable, the colors bring a lot of contour and gravity to the characters with some really nice shading, and the lettering keeps the story moving through a LOT of exposition.


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