It should come as no surprise that Tom Taylor–who knows Batman and Superman well enough to write a satisfying conflict between them in the Injustice series–would write the most satisfying picture of the friendship between the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel since the start of the Batman/Superman title.
A murder. A message.
Last month’s Batman/Superman #28 left off with Batman and Superman investigating a dead alien on the surface of the moon, while the bounty hunter Lobo accepts a contract to take out the Bat. This month’s installment picks things up with the arrival of that dead alien’s father. Our heroes help him investigate his daughter’s death, Lobo tracks down the Dark Knight, and Superman finds something startling in the sun.
There are those in the universe who pay attention to moments like these
This is the Batman and Superman team-up book that I’ve been wanting for some time. Whereas the past year of Greg Pak’s run on this title reads more like a Superman book guest-starring Batman, Taylor strikes a better balance between the two of them, providing a number of excellent individual moments, as well as some outstanding interactions. Bruce and Clark’s simultaneous respect for and frustration with each other is one of the most interesting aspects of their friendship, and Taylor offers a delightful play on it here.
Earlier, Clark ribs Bruce for his reluctance to ask for help, suggesting that Batman use a code word to make the process less painful. He suggests “banana muffin”, earning him quite the Bat-scowl:
That pointy-eared, finger-stealing bastard
If you’ve missed seeing Batman in DC’s main line of comics these long eight months, this book is a breath of air. Jim Gordon is a great detective in his own right, and I would even call some his battles as the GCPD-sanctioned Batman memorable; but there’s no substitute for the confidence and capability of the real thing. Bruce’s skills of deduction here impress even his enemies, but his conclusions are well-justified in the script. The fight with Lobo is great stuff, as well, with excellent dialogue that elicits both a dang! and a belly laugh.
Much credit goes to artists Robson Rocha, Julio Ferreira, and Blond, who render Batman in all of his non-Robobunny glory. Figures, faces, spacecraft–these guys handle it all with great skill, immersing us in a distraction-free world seen from engaging perspectives. Seriously, the art here is notably better than last issue, benefiting from Julio Ferreira’s consistent inks throughout the book (whereas the last issue’s inks were divided between three artists). And lest we forget the other half of the Universe’s Finest, this shot of Superman is positively sublime:
It runs on starlight
There’s plenty of plot to be had in this book, too. I never feel like things are dragging, or that there’s too much dialogue (even when there’s a lot of it). The case being worked by our heroes offers plenty of mystery, and while we have the satisfaction of seeing a few stones turned, there are enough questions left over at the end of this issue to propel us into the next installment.
If I have a complaint, it’s that Superman’s trip into the sun feels a tad bit rushed, and so what could have been a process of discovery lands more like an abrupt reveal. I’m not sure I have any ideas about how to improve it without more pages, and it doesn’t do much harm to an otherwise excellent script, but it stands out as an incongruous moment in a well-paced story.
- You enjoy the nuances of Batman and Superman’s friendship.
- You dig Batman being Batman, even in space.
- You enjoy the partnership of excellent characterization, near-perfect pacing, an engaging plot, and great action.
- You love seeing an art team come together to deliver beautiful work that brings a great script to the next level.
Batman/Superman #29 is good fun with superb characterization by Tom Taylor. Subtle comic relief breaks up the detective work at just the right moments, and without undermining the gravity of the situation or Batman’s professionalism in handling it. An improved showing by Rocha and company elevates this issue above the last one, giving Taylor’s near-flawless script the near-flawless art that it deserves. Secrets are revealed, but there are enough questions left on the table to draw me into next month’s issue #30. If you gave up on this title during Pak’s run, or if you’ve otherwise left it alone, you owe it to yourself to grab this issue and the last: this truly is the Universe’s Finest.