Vandal Savage has forced a small village in Siberia to do his bidding, extracting uranium from a stockpile of old nuclear warheads that were stored in an unused decommissioned site. Surviving for centuries, Savage somehow skipped the creation of labor laws and regulations. His workers/prisoners are obligated to long grueling hours and promised executions for benefits. Never one to sit idly by while injustice occurs, Superman decides to get involved in the village’s problem. However, this time he brought some friends along–the Bat Family!
I’ve pointed out that Vandal Savage and the Bat Family have appeared more frequently in different titles lately. I’m definitely a fan of the trend, and I hope it continues. Just not in this way. My smile quickly faded halfway through this issue as I realized that this story went a completely different way than I expected. Usually that would be a great thing. I’m sure that we all try to guess what will happen next in our favorite titles. We love great storytelling, and unexpected twists garner strong reactions from the readers. It’s fun coming up with theories about comics only to met with something even greater to blow your mind. Well I found myself wanting to blow my mind in a different way after Batman/Superman #26. The book took a left turn and set up shop on weird boulevard and strange avenue. I caught myself flipping back to the title page to see if there was a change in personnel.
There weren’t any changes in the creative team, but Cliff Richards takes care of most of the art. Ardian Syaf starts the issue off, but the pencil duties are quickly delegated to Richards with his stylized 3D designs. I don’t think I minded the style too much last time, but since I wasn’t much of a fan of the entire issue, it bothered me this go around. Through this title, Syaf became an artist I really admired. I much rather see his work, but there might have been time constraints or other factors that played into the use of two artists. My issue was that 3D model style can look funny and very static sometimes. I think they’re faces look great in terms of design. Clark, Dick, Jason, and Babs all look very attractive. Their faces had nice features, but there were always a lot of funny head tilts. Like everyone for the most part is looking down or off to the side. Also, I felt there were a few moments where the characters posed awkwardly. I feel like I’m nitpicking as I just don’t really prefer the 3D model style. Vicente Cifuentes and Cliff Richards both colored the pages. None of the pages look terrible, but they’re not amongst my favorite.
As far as the story goes, there were some strong emotions to be had on my end. Superman and his allies go to the village to offer assistance against Vandal Savage. I can understand that he wanted to establish some rapport with the people, but I felt he was unnecessarily forthcoming about information. While Superman is introducing the Bat Fam, he’s also spewing all this information that the villagers didn’t even need. They barely knew who Superman was, so why would they care that Red Hood use to be a Robin? Grayson is the only one with sense who says little about who he is. Then the frustrating part kicks in. Pak did not show his amazing talent while writing for Grayson. He just didn’t strike me as a believable agent. Batman’s protégés begin arguing just like a true family should, and I can’t help but think that Dick Grayson comes off as dull as a rock. It had me feeling like, “this is the guy who was the first Robin and is now a top notch spy”? I was confused, because I honestly thought that the Bat Team would offer Clark some training, because he definitely needs it. Instead, we got unnecessary bickering amongst the team at a terrible moment in time.
There were some other strange moments in this issue, but none stranger than Superman’s interaction with a sadistic Siberian child. Seriously, what was that? Awe struck by the presence of the Superman in his home, the child ponders about Superman’s power loss. He starts by taking little pokes and jabs at Supes to see if he can feel it. Then, without question, stabs Superman with a fork to see if the Man of Steel can indeed feel pain. I know Superman can handle it, as we’ve seen him take way worse, but I’m not letting some creepy grinning child stab me with a utensil. I’d have sent people to the Phantom Zone for less. That was the weirdest thing in the story for me. Now for the head scratching moment. SHOW SPOILER ▼
- You like to see heroes give back to the community
- Weird sadistic children don’t creep you out
I was bit flabbergasted at the quality of this issue. Greg Pak is a great writer in my opinion, and I really felt like this issue was phoned in. Superman comes off a little strange in this issue. He has a lot on his mind, so I just chalked it up to that. There are a few awkward moments in the issue as well as numerous awkward poses. The Bat Family teaming up with Superman had the potential to be an entertaining, and even pivotal moment in the title. I actually felt offended by how poorly they were used (especially Grayson). Instead, they came off as if they were doing a poor rendition of Scooby-Doo and Mystery Incorporated. No wonder Tim and Damian sat this one out. Jason Todd managed to be the saving grace of this issue. He and I shared the same sentiments at the end of the issue, so that made me laugh. I can truly say that I am completely clueless as to what will happen next. That’s my silver lining.
SCORE: 4 / 10