Batman/Superman #20 review

All right, folks, Reis is back on art duties! Look, I’ve been singing this book’s praises since the start of this arc, and I’m going to continue doing just that in this review. So let’s just get right into it!

Of all the DC books that I’ve been reading, this one is easily the most fun, because there’s so much adventure and there’s so much happening in every issue that you’re truly getting bang for your buck. This issue in particular is mainly action-driven; there’s a lot of fighting, there are explosions, and the fate of a whole lot of worlds hangs in the balance. None of these things necessarily create high stakes, because I’ve read plenty of comics from other writers who use similar elements in their work, but somehow they fail to create a sense of urgency, even when an entire multiverse is on the brink of extinction. Yang, however, accomplishes this because he has made me care about his characters. In other words, I think this story is an excellent example of how to do an interdimensional, high-stakes, all-or-nothing story right. I care about Superman’s World of Tomorrow, because I care about Superman, Jimmy and Lois. Likewise, I care about Batman and Robin’s world because I’m rooting for this dynamic duo. And none of these characters are even the Main Continuity versions!

A big reason why I care about these characters so much—and why I’ll really miss them after this series’ final issue—is that Yang has managed to make them a real team and a family. They’re not only working together to save innocents, but along the way they are also having a bit of fun. For example, on one page we see Robin asking Superman if he can ride on his shoulders as they fly toward a burn hole to get to another dimension, and Robin’s visibly having fun. But the fun doesn’t take away from the more urgent stuff: on another page we see that Robin is overwhelmed by enemies and he looks afraid as he cries out for Batman. In the next couple of panels we see Batman leaping into the fray, saving his sidekick, and reassuring Robin that he’s there for him, that he has his back. All this positive, heartwarming energy is contagious—I’m smiling the entire time! And seriously, when do we even see this kind of stuff in Batman related comic books anymore? This is all I want at this point, and Yang and his artists are delivering month in, month out.

I’m bringing this up because I feel like a lot of writers are relying on tension and conflict between their main cast way and way too much. Sure, friends and family fight sometimes, and it’s okay to incorporate those things in a story every once in a while, but this has almost become the norm today. Batman’s more likely to turn his back on his allies and keep them in the dark entirely than be open and caring toward them, and I’m just about done with that shit. Yang proves that friends don’t need to fight each other for a story to be interesting, and hopefully other writers (and editorial) will start realizing this as well. After all, if the characters don’t really care for each other, and if the scenario becomes melodramatic because of that, I’m simply not interested.

It’s good to see Reis back on art and, seeing some of the amazing visuals that he’s produced here, I think I can see why he had to take a break last month. Reis continues with the film roll motif to indicate panel borders, and I like how he makes those part of the story. For those that came in late: the various dimensions that this story takes place in are inside the frames of these film rolls. So when a roll burns, that means that the world within also burns. We see Reis playing with the layouts, stretching the film rolls, ripping them apart, and bending their shapes. Then, at a certain point, we are treated to beautiful double page spreads: a mismatch of the rolls, glimpses into the worlds, and our heroes flying across the spread. In order to enter one of the worlds, Superman uses his heat vision to create a burn hole. It’s such a creative way of presenting an interdimensional superhero epic, where moving across the page literally means that characters are traveling through space and time.

Rich’s colors are also quite a sight. She uses a varied palette, which makes for a very colorful book. But the colors also contribute a great deal to the sense of threat. As the story continues, Reis’ film roll renditions start to look more and more damaged, and to really hammer home how these worlds are in danger, Rich uses a lot of yellow, red and orange to make the flames around the panel borders stand out. All these details, from the colors to the way that the panels are constructed, make me feel like time is running out, and I have to keep reading. The writing isn’t the only thing that’s complex, clear and solid; the art elevates the writing to a whole other level. This, my friends, is comics gold!

Recommended if…

  • You want to read one of the most creative and exciting books that DC has to offer.
  • You want to see this story unfold; everything is connected!
  • Etrigan!

Overall: What more can I say? This book has it all: suspense, adventure, friendship, actual stakes, humor, tension, all of it. The writing is top notch and so is the art. Don’t let the fact that this title is getting canceled in September stop you from picking this up and enjoying the heck out of it. Enthusiastically recommended!

Score: 9.5/10

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