I’ve been very optimistic about this series. In the face of delays, artist changes, and strange directions I’ve said, “Okay, let’s go with it.” As this issue concludes an “arc” I kind of feel like the friend who says, “There’s no way Eric would’ve cheated on Carol,” and then is told that, yes, Eric did indeed cheat on Carol.
In this issue we see –and it isn’t a spoiler because we all knew it was gonna happen at the end– Bruce and Clark regain their memory. It happens very non-organically. We are told by Satanus and Kaiyo that it’s their choice to remember. And then they choose to remember. And then it’s over. And Lord Satanus has darker places to take Kaiyo. And we’ll see you next time around kiddos.
If you read the preview of the first few pages online, (or if you have the issue in front of you, which unless you’re a completist I would not suggest you do) that, for me, was the better part of the story. There is some chemistry between Bruce and Lois that I actually liked. Bruce gives Lois Batgirl’s suit (weird) and they spar with each other. As they’re training they hear Catwoman and Superman tearing through Mangubat’s robots. How is Catwoman keeping up with Superman through this? I don’t know. But she is and they run upon Mangubat himself. Batman and Lois (as Batgirl who is instantly recognized by Mangubat even though she’s wearing the mask) arrive and Batman hits Superman in the face with his motorcycle. Lois gets hurt. As Superman is about to pulverize Mangubat, Bruce remembers who he is and tells Clark to do the same, which he does. Catwoman runs away. Mangubat is arrested. Bruce goes home, says he doesn’t wanna be called Bruce: he’s Batman. Superman flies Lois away and mourns the fact that he has the capabilities of being a jerk. Satanus and Kaiyo go to a dark place and will come back “when the time comes to finish the job they started today.”
It all felt entirely too convoluted. I might have been up for the examination of who Bruce and Clark could be if it wasn’t drug so quickly and messily through Mangubat and Satanus and so many different artists. I should have done this before writing the review, but I wonder how this arc would read in one sitting, if it would feel as disjointed and unsatisfying as it feels now.
Even with the plots that shoot themselves in the foot because we know everything will be put back together at the end, I still feel Greg Pak has a good idea of who the characters are. Is that always apparent? No. I have to imagine that through the changes happening in the DC universe with Forever Evil, Futures End and the coming Blood Moon thing, along with the struggle for consistent artwork and probable editorial problems, these things muted what could have been a better arc.
Who is Superman’s Joker? That is the question at the end to tease issue #16. We get a new artistic team and keep Greg Pak at the writing helm. Surely that will be a cohesive arc.
- You weren’t sure if they’d get their memories back. If this is you, you should buy two copies.
- You imagine Lois Lane looks like a fourteen-year-old girl.
- You love “To be continued…” endings.
This is not a buy. As readers spending our hard-earned money, we want to purchase a good comic. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter if there are legitimate excuses (editorial, scheduling, artist changes), if the end product does not satisfy, then we don’t want it. This issue concludes an arc that doesn’t justify the $3.99 per issue price tag no matter how much anyone wanted it to, including myself.