Batman/Superman #14 review

Batman and Superman created an AI program to stop villains, but for some reason this program decided that in order to figure out how to stop them, it would have to become a villain itself. It has created a Composite Superman/Batman robot to accomplish this goal, and our heroes have to find a way to stop it. Unfortunately, I am not enjoying this issue at all. Why? Well…let’s have a look.

Right from the start, this comic’s already falling apart. We are treated to a rather problematic double-page splash, and the first thing that I notice is how chaotic and messy this looks. It’s too busy and there’s no good sense of depth, as if everything exists on the same layer, and as a result it’s hard to tell what’s going on exactly. There are robots that just exist in the background but don’t seem to serve a clear narrative or aesthetic purpose. Essentially, this is just a collection of heroes and robots in various poses rather than a dynamic, kinetic fight scene. It’s, frankly, boring to look at.

But my criticism of this splash doesn’t end there. For example, we see Batwoman kicking a robot clean in half, but her leg is in an awkward position, so there’s a lack of proper technique—no trained martial artist would kick like that. Beyond that, I don’t buy that a human being is even capable of kicking a robot—that’s made of metal—in half. Another example is that Steel holds his sledgehammer very ineffectively: his hands are close to the head itself, so if he strikes, the handle is going to slam into his own stomach, or hit even lower—I suppose it’s a good thing that he’s wearing armor. Then, on the next page, we see the exact same problems with Batwoman and Steel, but this time the robot that’s kicked by Batwoman doesn’t break in half, but actually explodes somehow. Furthermore, Batwoman and Steel are suddenly on the other side of the battlefield, which doesn’t make a lot of sense given that they are literally surrounded by enemies everywhere. There is just no logic to this entire fight scene. It’s not a great way to open up a comic, but it gets worse.

At a certain point, Steel remembers that he is able to use an EMP wave that knocks down all of the robots at once, and I wonder why he didn’t use this ability earlier on? The creative team tries to explain this by saying that this ability hurts Steel and that he can only use it once, but we never see Steel hurting and the fact that he can only use it once shouldn’t matter. Considering how many enemies these heroes have to deal with, using this ability as early as possible would have been desirable. Besides, in what way does this hurt Steel, and why is it that he can only use this ability once? With there being no real consequences to this action, these limitations just come off as arbitrary.

This whole thing gets even crazier when, later in the issue, Batwoman actually defeats all of the robots all by herself off-panel! When we see her again, she is standing on top of a mountain of felled robots, which also doesn’t make sense, because why do these robots pile up like that? I don’t see how Batwoman and the robots would get themselves into those positions. The only reason this happens is because the art team wants to render a cool image of a victorious Batwoman, rather than looking at what makes sense for the story to happen.

Then there is the fight between Superman and the Composite Superman/Batman. There are a number of things that I could criticize here, but because I’d like to move on from the art, I’ll focus on the one thing that bothers me the most. In an attempt to kill Superman, Composite launches some kind of bat…things…at him. I’m not sure what these things are supposed to be or what they are supposed to do. I also don’t know where those things come from, because there is nothing in the character’s design that indicates where he might be storing them. Superman doesn’t appear to take any damage from these things, either. It just seems incredibly pointless and only serves to emphasize how there aren’t any stakes in this book.

The comic wants you to believe that there are stakes by having Composite attack Metropolis, but save for a single family and a handful of background characters, we don’t see serious consequences of Composite’s attack. Once we leave Metropolis, there are no further mentions of the damage that Composite has caused. It’s like this stuff is forgotten the minute that we flip the page. It’s lazy writing, I don’t know what else to make of it.

Another example of lazy writing is how the heroes end up defeating Composite. They essentially defeat him by talking him into a paradox, using the program’s own logic against it. I don’t necessarily have anything against this type of stuff specifically, but the sheer simplicity of it makes it come off as a too-easy solution to the problem. Then there is also the fact that this kind of solution has been used in many science-fiction stories in the past, so there is no originality to it either. In fact, this concept is so old that by now it’s become outdated. Perhaps, had the creative team put a new spin on this, it would have stood out more, but unfortunately that just isn’t the case here.

And finally, before I wrap this up, I want to raise a last point. When our heroes are surrounded by many foes at the same time, engaged in heavy physical exercise, fighting for their lives, they are also somehow talking to each other like none of this is happening. They speak in long sentences and even find the time to engage in a little discussion and consider each other’s arguments. I have said this before and I will say it again: when you’re in a fight, especially when facing this many opponents at once, it is impossible to have these kinds of conversations! In real fights, there is barely any talking at all. You have to focus. And, more importantly, you have to breathe. The way that these fight scenes are written is just silly and takes me out of the moment completely. Anyone that’s ever been in a fight—in a dojo, in a gym, even in the street—knows this. Sure, heroes can say a few words or quip or wisecrack if that’s part of their characterization, but they’re not in a bar or at a tea party. Seriously. Stop it. Enough with all this chatter!

Recommended if…

  • You like that cool cover.

Overall: The writing is lazy and unrealistic. The art misses depth and doesn’t convey the sense of place nor the action well. There are no stakes here. To me, there is nothing enjoyable to be found within these pages and as such I’m afraid I can’t recommend this book.

Score: 2/10

Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with an advance copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.