Batman/Superman #17

This is a great comic! Among the many different books on stands these days, Batman/Superman certainly stands out. While it’s too early to judge the overall quality of the current arc, seeing as this is only the second chapter and more will follow, I am totally on board for now, and I appreciate that Yang and Reis are trying to do something fresh and unique. So let’s jump right into it!

This issue, like last month’s, is put together quite meticulously. During the framing sequence, we find Main Continuity Batman and Superman in space, investigating a strange, enormous film roll. They find out that the director of the Archives, who looks after said film roll, has nasty intentions, and Batman and Superman have to stop him. The secondary story takes up the most pages and, while the connections to the framing sequence are certainly there, the story itself mostly exists in its own bubble. We follow alternate versions of Superman, Lois, Batman and Robin, whose adventures take place in the frames of the film roll. They have to work together as they investigate the nature of their reality, while running into the likes of Lex Luthor and Spider Lady along the way.

Both these plots rely heavily on action and they have a straight-forward structure. There are no unnecessary sidesteps here, such as convoluted plot twists or psychological character studies. This creates a streamlined narrative, which works great for this type of story. With the focus on the right things, the creative team has enough room to give each character a distinct personality and voice. All the protagonists are also very active; none of them gets pushed to the sideline or remains strictly comic relief, for example. Yang does a tremendous job of balancing these different characters, especially when you take into account that he’s basically telling two stories at once.

Furthermore, the writing itself is crisp. Yang switches between humor and serious stuff seamlessly, and the dialogue is tight. There are Silver Age-y and pulpy elements to the writing in general, so even when characters speak in a way that might not sound entirely realistic, Yang gets away with it because it does match the overall tone of the story and therefore doesn’t seem odd. It’s also a joy to follow the heroes as they organically find answers to their questions and deal with the plot twists. Nothing about this feels fabricated and, as crazy as this entire story is, the mystery—so far—seems to make sense. On top of all that, there’s a confidence to the writing: I get the feeling that Yang knows exactly what he’s doing and where he’s going with this.

Reis’ art is very consistent with the previous issue in terms of quality. The panel borders around the alternate versions of Batman, Superman and the others always look like film roll, which helps to differentiate the secondary story from the framing sequence. Sometimes this film roll runs straight through the pages, and other times Reis is playing with the layout. He’ll show the film roll breaking apart or catching fire, for example. On a meta level, this corresponds with the events in the story.

The action scenes are explosive, the characters all look interesting and unique (some even grotesque, like the alternate versions of Penguin and Joker), and the overall character work is strong. I have seen many drawings by Reis over the years and I’ve always thought that his Batman renditions look incredible. But the Golden Age-inspired outfit that he draws on this comic’s alternate Batman might already be my favorite of all of his renditions. Batman looks a little bit more like a devil here and, as his suit looks rather practical and plain, I love that the jagged crest stands out. It draws attention and puts a cool modern spin on that Golden Age look.

Recommended if…

  • You just want to read a damn good comic!
  • You need to see the magic that this powerhouse creative team is weaving for yourself.
  • You love the idea of a Batman/Robin/Superman/Lois team-up.

Overall: Look, sometimes creators join forces on a book and it just clicks. Yang and Reis really have this synergy going on. The writing and the art are strong, and also really play off of each other in a quite unique way. The fact that this story mainly focuses on adventure, humor and mystery is also very refreshing in a time where most Batman stories forcefully concentrate on grim and dark themes and plots. With this being only the second issue of this arc, there’s still time to call your LCS and tell them to add this title to your pull list. This is a story worth reading. Enthusiastically recommended!

Score: 9/10

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