Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Batman/Superman #16 Review


Double Take

Writer: Gene Luen Yang
Artist: Ivan Reis
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: March 24, 2021
Cover Price: $3.99

Gene Luen Yang is a gem!  I don't know him personally, but I don't think there is a better person in comics, so I always check out every new book from him.  Also, he's a damn good writer, so I was excited when DC announced he would be taking over Batman/Superman after the Future State break.  I kind of wish this was a new #1, but I keep saying that with all the books with new creatives right now, and as far as I can tell, DC is not listening to little old me.  Batman/Superman #16 is a fresh start (where is Eric to whisper that for me?), and if you are expecting something similar to the Joshua Williamson run, Yang may throw you off a bit.  Actually, this first issue may throw many people off at first with its unique presentation and storytelling.  Let's get into it...

Gene Luen Yang has gone on Twitter and talked about his love of the old Superman and Batman serials.  He shows that big-time right away and uses it to tell two different stories on each page, a Superman one and a Batman one.  It makes sense, right?

Ivan Reis does a great job illustrating the two stories and sticking with the old-time serial motif; each takes place on its own stip of film that weaves its way throughout the book.  Now, I am a digital reader with not-so-great eyesight, so I struggled at first, zooming in and out of each page, but once I got a handle on it, it became smooth sailing.

The reader can read both stories together or one at a time, and I opted for the latter.  I read the Superman story first and then went back and read the Batman one, and that's how I will review them.

As the Superman story begins, it is evident that something is up with the timeline/continuity.  Lois doesn't know Clark is Superman is the big tell, and because of that, it kicks off with a classic feel.  That continues throughout as a bald "Unknown Wizard" interrupts a public unveiling of the "Omni Battery."  The surprise isn't that this wizard is Lex Luthor (everyone knows it immediately), but that the Omni Battery was built by Lex's nemesis... Martha Wayne!  What What?!?!  Bruce and Alfred are there as well, in slightly different roles.

We continue with a twist on the Batman origin, Lex demanding the Omni Battery is made of people (there is a movie reference there somewhere), and a snooping Lois crossing over to the other story.  The first time through, I was a bit confused about what was going on here, but then I went back to read the Batman story, and things clicked more as I read it. It's not that it made more sense than the Superman story, just that I was used to the book's flow.  It's a good thing I read the Superman one first because the Batman story is a bit crazier.  

It begins with the typical Batman origin but a not-so-standard Arkham breakout.  Spider Lady is breaking out some A-List villians and after problems with a guard, Batman and Robin show up.  It's Dick Grayson, which I love, and had a great, classic feel.  

After an extended fight with Dick doing most of the heavy lifting, Batman and Robin capture all the villains and head off to talk to the Warden... who is a bit strange and has a crazy bit of memorabilia in his office.  I mean CRAZY!  A bit of investigating sends the Dynamic Duo off to the North Pole, where the two stories, again, converge.  The issue then ends with our Earth-Zero World's Finest finding the film that we just watched and coming up against a cosmic threat that would make the Film Freak (RIP) giddy.

It took me two full read-throughs for the story to sink in, and still, this is a tricky single issue to rate.  I applaud the unique way of telling the story, and the art was great, but the whole thing is presented in a way to have you off balance by the end intentionally.  Overall, I liked it.  Yang gives the reader a classic feel of Batman and Superman, and I am intrigued by its mystery.  Plus, it looked fantastic!

Bits and Pieces:

While I am afraid that its unique presentation will throw some off, I liked the classic feel of this issue and am looking forward to seeing more of what's going on.  Ivan Reis's art is fantastic, and I recommend it, but I also recommend reading it a couple of times before judging it.


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