I’m sad and disappointed. I’ve been reviewing this title since #1, and it’s no secret that I’ve been very critical of the series during the previous writer’s run. Bluntly put, I thought the previous run was just plain bad. Then Future State happened, and Yang took over as the writer. I had never read Yang’s work before and I was absolutely blown away by Yang and Reis’ first issue of the new story arc. Since then, I’ve been loving reviewing each issue, it’s just been such a good story! This is what comics should be! And then the September 2021 solicitations came out and it was announced that this title would be canceled with issue #22…
I truly don’t know what’s gotten into DC editorial. Granted, I haven’t seen any sales figures for this book, so perhaps it was under-performing and that’s why it got axed. But at the same time I feel like Yang could easily have stayed on this title for much longer. In fact, I would’ve welcomed it! Clearly Yang has a lot of imagination, as well as the skill to translate his ideas into a great comic script. This story screams adventure and, despite it getting canceled in September, I can feel the passion and the positive energy that went into the making of this book.
First of all, I’m a sucker for stories where our heroes leap from world to world, dimension to dimension. I’ll admit that I was slightly worried when I first saw how many artists are featured in this issue, but whoever coordinated all of this, the person did a great job. Each artist draws a particular world. Some of you may find the switches in these very different art styles jarring, and I thought I would too, but I find myself enjoying how each artist makes their own segment distinct from the others. It works because it seems like Yang’s playing to each artist’s strength. Luppachino focuses on the opening section, where our heroes first see Main Continuity Batman and Superman trapped by Auteur.io; Lieber draws a futuristic world with fantastical silver age vibes, such as jetpacks and Mammoth Quake Worms; Robertson gives us a night-time wild west world; and Hotz’s segment is mythological and intriguing. Could these artists have taken care of each others’ segments? Yes, I think so. But they are all such a good fit for their own segments that it’s hard to imagine what the book would’ve looked like had they drawn different parts. For example, while Robertson can definitely do superhero stuff (see his comic The Boys with Garth Ennis), I’ve always thought he’s better at a more grounded approach that incorporates some fantastical elements but doesn’t completely lean into them (see his comic Happy! with Grant Morrison). His wild west segment is like that: yes, the train turns out to be a monster, but the focus is more on the characters and how they deal with the situation than big, over-the-top action.
That said, I’m hoping that Reis will return for the final issues. All the other artists are good—even though some of the panels here aren’t as clean as they should be, when faces look wonky or proportions are just slightly off—but Reis helped launch this run and set a very high bar for the book’s aesthetics. The story just isn’t the same without him, and while DC is crazy enough to cancel this book, they better have the sense to hire Reis for the last chapters.
We also get some interesting information about Auteur.io, which adds more dimensions to the character. It turns out that he’s not just a mustache-twirling bad guy, but that he’s more complex than that and actually has some redeeming qualities. There’s a reason why he’s behaving like a villain, and it’s an okay reason, although I do think that the switch in his demeanor, once that reason is temporarily removed, is a bit too sudden. This could’ve been a bit more refined, and I would like some more insight into the character’s psyche as well as exactly why that aforementioned reason turns him into a bad guy. I mean, as it stands, it works, but I think a little more care and character development could’ve enhanced the story.
What I like the most about this issue, and this run as a whole, is how well Yang balances all the characters. Like before, everyone gets to be awesome. Everyone does something important, whether it’s stopping an enemy, saving a friend, or coming up with a new plan. It’s always tricky to balance this out properly in an ensemble story, as a common pitfall is that one or more characters just end up running around in the background but not truly contributing to the story. I think that my favorite character in all of this is Robin, because he’s so enthusiastic about everything, clearly loving this crazy adventure. It’s this kind of positive energy that makes me want to keep reading. In a day and age where writers keep trying to deconstruct things and make superheroes as dark as possible, Yang’s writing truly is like a breath of fresh air.
- You want adventure and excitement! That’s exactly what you’ll find within these pages!
- You love Yang’s wild imagination and talent for writing!
- Superman and Batman and Robin are your true dynamic trio!
Overall: Look, this is a fun book! Everyone, and I mean everyone, should be buying and reading this. It truly is that good! The folks at DC editorial are fools for canceling this book! Yang and the artists deserve this gig. Readers deserve good quality like this. Whose decision was this? What on Earth was DC editorial thinking? Seriously. Oh well. I guess we should just enjoy this while it lasts.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with an advance copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.