Batman/Superman #20 review

Here we have the conclusion to this stunning Kryptonian tale of family, friendship, and revenge. Of course, Batman’s involved, but only in key moments. Family Affairs mainly focuses on the members of the House of El, Xa-Du the Phantom King, and the Kandorian captives. Kal-El and Kara Zor-El must put their attachments to their friend and relatives aside to stop a potential invasion from the brainwashed citizens of Kandor.

All of the Kryptonian lore and flashbacks have definitely been the highlight of this arc. For so long, I had always viewed Superman as this orphan from a doomed planet who knew next to nothing about his true heritage. Greg Pak has done an excellent job facilitating a believable history into the story. The fleshed out heritage adds depth to who Superman is and in a way, showcases how he’s evolved past his home planet counterparts. The movie Man of Steel illustrated this as I’m sure other incarnations of Superman media have as well, but it’s always nice seeing other aspects of the culture other than its destruction.

Superman and Supergirl are tasked with fighting their loved ones in a fight for their lives to stop the impending terror that the Phantom King will wreak if his plan succeeds. Clark mentions that he should be thrilled to reunite with his aunt and grandmother, but this is no happy reunion. The Kandorians have been in an induced coma of sorts–afraid and trapped for years. “Saved” by Xa-Du, they’ve accepted the propaganda against the Jor-El and his son and seek the demise of the House of El. Batman, Superman, Supergirl, Lois Lane, and Ray Palmer all work diligently to stop this madness, but time seems to be against them. The Dark Knight’s extensive knowledge of Superman’s physiology pays off to their advantage and serves as a catalyst to get the ball rolling in their favor. This results in a massive showdown between the Phantom King and his Kandorian army and the super cousins.

Ardian Syaf’s wonderful art moves the story along quite smoothly. What I always enjoy about Syaf’s pencils are the expressions in each character’s face and how clear the movement is in each panel. Sometimes, in the mix of storytelling and frenetic movement, it gets hard to tell what exactly is going on in the panel. Syaf depicts these larger than life panels and the inkers and colorist (Cifuentes, Morales, and Arreola, respectively) do a terrific job at making each page feel full. There’s a beautiful splash page towards the middle of the book that shows the chaos that our heroes are up against.

I’ve been looking forward to each issue ever since the creative team switch and I haven’t been let down. The art has been amazing and the story is very compelling. I may have had my expectations up a bit too high, however, because I felt a bit let down by the conclusion of this story. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed the entire arc. I guess I was looking for some kind of mind game showdown or a great feat of strength performance at the end from Clark. Superman did use brains over brawn towards the end and the conclusion was still satisfying.

Batman used his Red Sun generator to even the odds in the fight against Superman’s relatives. It’s always cool to see Batman have a Kryptonian contingency plan at a moment’s notice. Kara’s reaction to Bruce and Clark being friends is always a riot as well. Superman also uses the generator to stop the Kandorian army. He and Kara are able to withstand the blast due to being exposed to the yellow sun a lot longer. I think my problem with how they eradicated Xa-Du came from how quickly he was dispatched. There was no real showdown between him and Superman. They had been calling him Superman’s Joker this whole time, but he seemed more like Superman’s Hush more than anything (a villain with a connection to the hero’s past). Plus, Batman is the one who saved the day, but it is Batman, so I guess that’s understandable. He got me with the fake out. I thought he got blasted.

I’m probably nitpicking, but what I did enjoy about the Phantom King is how his attacks were very personal. Maybe Batman can take a lesson from this whole ordeal and talk to Superman about throwing Joker into the Phantom Zone, because Arkham isn’t cutting it.

Recommended if:

  • You want to see a fight at a family reunion
  • Interested in how this arc concludes
  • You want to see some great teamwork from the good guys


The overall story was great and this was a good issue. My criticism mainly comes from judging the arc as a whole. However, I still think the the creative team gave us a fitting end to the conflict. Absolutely loved Superman’s culture being explored and having an enemy go directly for him instead of Metropolis or the entire globe. Fun story

SCORE: 8.5/10