Batman/Superman #16 review

I’ve been looking forward to this. Yang seems like a good writer, and of course Reis is one of DC’s top artists. I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this, but as soon as I opened up my review copy and saw the art, I set everything aside to see what this one’s all about. Does that mean it’s good? Let’s have a look!

Okay. Yes. It’s good. In fact, I love this issue! It has a strange structure, unlike any other book on stands right now, as this issue simultaneously tells two separate stories—a Superman tale starring Lois and Jimmy, and a Batman and Robin adventure. Reis draws two film rolls, one that runs across the upper half of the pages and one that runs across the lower half. Superman is above and Batman is below, which makes sense seeing as Superman is often flying through a sunlit sky over Metropolis, whereas Batman hangs out in a dark underground cave and only comes out at night. Each frame on this film roll is, of course, a panel. The stories don’t interconnect and even take place in different universes…until the final page, where the film breaks down and someone literally falls across the page into the other world, much to the characters’ confusion. It’s hard to say where this story is going from here, but at least I can confirm that the Batman and Superman from Earth-0 (where the main continuity stories take place) will return in the next issue to delve into the mystery of this strange film roll. But even though it isn’t exactly clear yet what the deal is, I’ll say this: I’m on board!

What I’ve been missing a lot lately, particularly from Bat books, is a sense of optimism. I’ve gotten really sick and tired of all this deconstruction and these one-note mass-murdering Joker knockoffs and the ridiculously edgy tone of most recent stories. This issue of Batman/Superman is like an antidote. The two separate stories are fun, fast-paced, tightly scripted, well-drawn, and evoke Golden and Silver Age vibes.

There’s an innocence to the art and writing; for example, this isn’t about a depressed dude in a Bat costume moping in a cave. Instead, we get a Batman and Robin who are happy to do their job. Robin does his little wisecracks while whacking his opponents over the head, and Batman tells him he did a good job. This is already very different from other recent stories, where Bruce would neglect Damian and the rest of his family for months on end. It’s hard to imagine this Batman punching his adoptive sons in the kisser for no apparent reason. Don’t get me wrong, this Batman will still scare criminals and villains alike, but that doesn’t mean that he’ll mistreat his partners.

I’m also quite impressed that Yang and Reis are able to put so much into each story. Clark teams up with Lois and Jimmy to do some investigative journalism on Bruce and Wayne Manor, and Lois plays a very active role in this. But before we even get to that, Superman has to fight off a villain in Metropolis! Meanwhile, Batman and Robin are investigating a case of their own, running into the likes of Joker and Penguin along the way, and uncovering the location of a secret base that they have to infiltrate. I see a lot of superhero books on stands these days that struggle with their storytelling. Sometimes they are decompressed to a point that almost nothing seems to happen in a single issue, and other times writers introduce so many characters and plot points that the whole thing crumbles under its own weight. What’s different with Batman/Superman #16 is that Yang and Reis work with precision. This is very plot-driven and so there’s not as much character development as I’d like to see, but this is something that can easily be overlooked given that this story is intended to be more plot-driven. The creative team has chosen this structure, and they stick with it, and their minimal use of characters and plot beats allows both stories to breathe.

Reis is joined by Miki (inks) and Rich (colors), and the art team is bringing their A game. The layouts are mostly the same throughout the book, since we’re following the film rolls, and it’s a good decision because it makes it easy to follow and tell apart both stories. That said, the action is still big and explosive, and Reis draws very detailed characters, from their facial expressions to their poses and their outfits. The inking is smooth and tidy, and the coloring manages to make each story more distinct while at the same time matching in aesthetics so they fit in the same issue. Truly, from the writing right down to the artwork, this is really good!

Recommended if…

  • You are, like me, tired of deconstruction and want more upbeat superhero fun!
  • You are a fan of Ivan Reis.
  • You have been looking for a jumping-on point for Batman/Superman.

Overall: This comic makes me happy. Not only is it really good, but it’s also just so much fun to read! Yang’s writing is on point, and the art team was clearly enjoying this. It’s still a bit early in the game to see exactly where this creative team is going with this story, but if this level of quality is maintained throughout the rest of the arc, then we’re in for a ride, my fellow comic book readers! Enthusiastically recommended!

Score: 9/10

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