Batman/ Superman #28 “Universe’s Finest”
Written by Tom Taylor
Pencils by Robson Rocha
Colors by Blond
Considering the past year has practically been void of stories featuring the real Batman, I find myself getting REALLY excited when we are treated to a story that actually does. Layer on the fact that Tom Taylor (Who had an amazing run on Injustice: Gods Among Us and Earth 2), is taking the helm for the short story, and I move from excited to giddy.
“Universe’s Finest” begins with a scene that almost feels as though it were pulled from the movie Gravity. An American space crew prepares to work on the Lunar Space Station, and as the commander of the team begins her spacewalk, something collides with the station, decimating it. In the chaos, debris smacks the commander’s mask, creating a crack that slowly begins to spread across the glass of her helmet. Immediately I knew one of two things were going to happen: Superman was going to save her, or her death would cause an investigation into the incident that would end up requiring the services of Batman and Superman. Regardless of the predictability of the situation, it’s still a great opening because Taylor manages to present a brand new character that is relatable and engaging within a matter of three pages.
The events of the opening scene do, in fact, lead to an investigation after its revealed that the object that crashed into the space station wasn’t a meteor, but a giant alien. After crash landing on the moon, it isn’t the alien that sparks my interest, but the symbol that’s next to its body:
Now I know this sounds similar to a recent Detective Comics story, but I assure you, it’s different. Mainly because it’s better. I’ll be honest and say that I was hoping for a little more out this issue, but its far from bad and better than anything this title has produced for some time. Anyway, the Batman/ Superman symbol naturally leads to the two teaming up to investigate the incident, and since the alien’s body is on the moon, guess where they’re going (if you can’t connect the dots, it’s the moon)… Now again, I know this sounds similar to a Batman & Robin Annual that was released about a year ago, but this issue is way better. Are you seeing a trend here?
After a quick altercation in Gotham with Clayface, Batman and Superman eventually make it to the moon to inspect the corpse. This allows Batman to do what he does best: flex his detective skills. Immediately he starts analyzing the body from a distance and begins making deductions about what happened to the alien. He creates valid theories as easily as any of us would complete basic multiplication. It’s part of why he’s awesome.
Rather than leave readers wondering who is behind this whole ordeal, Taylor reveals the bad guys in this issue. I’m personally 50/50 on the timing of the reveal. In some ways I felt it was a little rushed, but at the same time, it allowed the book to keep a higher paced energy. Also, the reveal – which I won’t give away at the moment – will probably make a lot of readers happy.
But what really makes this book, are the characters. The standard Bat/Supes banter is on full display here, and Taylor nails it. Alfred is even able to throw in his wit on occasion to round out the entertainment value.
On the other end of the spectrum, we get to see Batman as broody and stubborn as ever, while Superman is presented with his inherent nobility. After so many poor interpretations of Bruce and Clark’s relationship over the past few years, I’d forgotten how well they actually do complement each other. It’s a refreshing return to the status quo, and one that I think many readers will agree is needed.
The Art: Robson Rocha covers art duties here. I’ve never been opposed to Rocha’s art. I’m mostly familiar/ aware of his art from Birds of Prey since I covered that book when it was in rotation. I feel like he tends to be a safe, solid artist, but I never expect to receive breathtaking panels or pages. He comes in, does his job, tells the story, and thankfully does it well… and on time.
His faces tend to be the feature that bugs me the most about his art, and that remains true here. That being said, I was fond of his interpretations of both Batman and Superman, despite some inconsistencies. Even with that, there are occasions when he absolutely nails a panel or a page. Case and point, this panel with Batman and Clayface.
Breakdowns can be found in the spoiler tag.
The Good: The characterization. I already called it out, but the characters make this issue. Tom Taylor is so good at inserting little details, quirks, and touches of color to his characters. It’s a very minor thing to do, but it brings so much more to the table. When you compare his work to the likes of Sean Ryan’s New Suicide Squad – where the characters have no voice, and the dialogue sounds as though it could be interchangeable from character to character – you begin to realize how much of an impact it has on your overall story. There’s so much more depth that gets created, without relying on taking an ample amount of time to build it.
That’s Detective Batman to you, buddy! I love getting to see Batman own a crime scene. Considering Taylor’s story is a short arc, it doesn’t go as in depth as I would’ve liked, and Batman essentially comes to his conclusions without much effort, but instead viewing it as a miss, I’m viewing it as Batman being a total badass detective.
Lobo. Hey look! It’s classic Lobo! Or… a cross between classic Lobo and modern Lobo. Anyway, I’m always down to see this outlaw in a book, and I’m looking forward to him getting a little action in. I will admit that I’m not familiar with the other character (I’ve avoided “space books” for years), so I don’t know if I should be excited or not.
The Bad: There isn’t really any bad here for me. If anything, the issue is a little under-par from what I was expecting. Considering the level of work that Taylor usually delivers – whether it’s an ongoing arc or a one-and-done – there just didn’t appear to be as much meat as I was hoping for. Granted, I was hoping for/ expecting this to be a 9/10 at least, but my score is far from anything to complain about.
I also think Superman was a little underplayed here and there in favor of Batman… but I’m not really going to complain about that.
- You miss Batman and Superman in all of their glory.
- You enjoy Tom Taylor’s work.
- You just want to read a solid, fun story that isn’t trying to drastically change everything.
Overall: Tom Taylor gives DC fans what they’ve desperately been waiting for: the Batman and Superman we know and love. Highlighting the strengths of Batman and Superman, we’re treated with a straight story, strong writing, and no overcompensating gimmicks. This book should please any Batman or Superman fan.