The series’ second arc, which started in last month’s issue, continues this week. I was a big fan of the previous installment, which introduced the new character, David, who has now stepped into the role of Boy Thunder, Superman’s sidekick. The current arc was off to a great start, but can the creative team keep it up? Let’s have a look.
Yes, they can! In fact, I think this issue is even better than the previous one. Somehow Waid manages to give Batman, Superman, Robin, Supergirl and, of course, David all the character focus and attention that they require and deserve, thereby making them all feel like main characters in their own right. While Batman and Superman do take a slight step back so David has more room to shine this month, the World’s Finest duo still has plenty of great, heroic moments that we all love to see. For example, Superman’s saving countless innocent lives while Batman acts as a master strategist to guide each of the heroes in their mission to save Gotham. Both Superman and Batman play key roles in this, and so do Robin and Supergirl—the former being tasked with training David, while the latter is there to comfort David when he needs it, which creates a connection between the three of them.
What this comic does especially well is showing us David’s internal struggle. He is still learning to control his heat powers and finds himself in a situation where it’s super dangerous for him to use them, yet he’s forced to use them if he is to save lives. David’s emotional reactions to the situation are realistic and human, and the way in which Waid connects the situation to David’s inner struggle makes for very clever character writing. Through this, he’s confronted with his traumatic past, and it is what ultimately makes him decide to take action and do the right thing. My one minor complaint here is that David overcomes this struggle a little bit too quickly, but that’s easy to forgive considering how much Waid manages to put in this one single issue.
The pacing throughout is damn solid, as well. A lot of the character development is tied directly to the main plot, and even though so much happens in these pages, nothing feels rushed and everything has a specific function that advances either the plot or the character development. The comic feels longer than it really is, and that is absolutely not a bad thing at all.
However, there are two things that I’m not a fan of. First, the dialogue can sound a bit unnatural at times. We still get characters dumping exposition on each other, which still reads like Waid is explaining something to his readers rather than characters explaining things to each other in an organic way. Second, the villain of the month is The Key, who somehow has put everyone in Gotham in a state of entamaphobia, which basically makes them afraid to leave the space they are in, or to enter another space. We never find out exactly how The Key is able to do all of this, and the whole villain scheme is underdeveloped. All The Key does is give a speech about what he’s doing to Gotham, so he’s a very passive villain as well. When it turns out that he’s actually working for someone else, it further diminishes The Key, making him even less interesting. Lastly, I can’t help but think that phobias are supposed to be Scarecrow’s thing, but I guess The Key messes around with that stuff too.
That said, I love this book. There’s so much heart and optimism here, and it’s such a breath of fresh air to see this vastly different take on Batman. I’m so used to seeing him written as an asshole lately, who refuses to accept any help from anyone, including his own family. But Waid’s Batman does not hesitate to call on his super friends for help, and that is the Batman that I want to read.
As for the art, Mora and Bonvillain fire on all cylinders once again. Their vibrant art perfectly matches Waid’s optimistic, Silver Age-y tone and every panel just screams adventure! Each of the character renditions are absolutely flawless, and the way they behave and move makes them look lifelike and realistic, even though Mora’s art clearly has some cartoony elements to it. The page layouts and action are once again easy to follow, even when there’s a lot going on in terms of sequence or colors. I am also a huge fan of the attention to detail: while Mora strategically chooses not to draw backgrounds in a few instances, we can see him having fun with the backgrounds in other panels, my favorite being a shot of the Batcave, where we see Ace chilling right behind Batman and Robin.
- Comics should be fun without sacrificing heart or darker themes.
- Boy Thunder’s introduction last month has you intrigued.
- You’re tired of the mean and antisocial take on Batman; he’s a stand-up guy in this series!
Overall: This comic has fantastic character writing, a serious core conflict, and its fair share of wholesomeness. There’s adventure on every page, all of which is rendered beautifully by Mora and Bonvillain. This might be my favorite series from DC at the moment. Enthusiastically recommended!
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.