It’s the second chapter of the third arc, and this arc is off to a good start. The setup last month was excellent. Not only did it provide a neat jumping-on point, but it was also a strong premise that promises a great adventure, involving Metamorpho and Simon Stagg. I can’t wait to see where this story goes, so let’s jump right into the comic and have a look.
This issue is, in its execution, near perfect. The character work is, as always, top notch. I have been praising this series for how it depicts Bruce and Clark’s friendship: they’re heroes who want to work together and who have each other’s back, as opposed to the overused trope of pitting heroes against each other time and time again. Now, in this issue, Waid does introduce conflict between them, but the way it’s presented is totally in line with their characterization and simply makes sense in this context. After all, last month we saw how the Daily Planet reported about how Bruce Wayne is suspected of having killed Simon Stagg, and in this issue Bruce is not very happy about that, to say the least. He voices his concerns to Clark, and Clark explains why he published that story through the Daily Planet. The back and forth between them is nuanced, and in the midst of it all they still manage to find common ground.
Furthermore, the story structure itself is great. We essentially go through different stages, starting with an exciting, action-driven cold open that pulls us into the narrative. Each scene that follows not only continues to present great character interactions, but every scene also adds another plot beat or clue that helps to slowly build the core mystery by providing answers that raise more questions. We can see that the pieces of the puzzle fit together, but not quite how they fit together just yet. It’s very intriguing, and very fun.
In addition, the dynamic is somewhat different from previous arcs because Bruce cannot be in Batman the entire time due to him being a prime suspect. This forces Superman and Robin to work together as this arc’s dynamic duo, while Bruce investigates the case mainly from his office, in businessman mode. Later, of course, he does don the Batsuit and teams up with Metamorpho while Superman and Robin are off on their own mission, and it’s great seeing Batman and Metamorpho working together like this. But it’s that extra focus on Bruce Wayne rather than Batman that I appreciate a lot. I feel like we don’t get nearly as much Bruce Wayne scenes in Batman comics these days, so any time we do get the chance to see him as businessman or playboy, it’s fresh and interesting. Just like the subtle differences in how Waid writes Clark and Superman, we also see this in how he writes Bruce and Batman: when Bruce talks to fellow billionaires, for example, his speech patterns are more friendly and polite; it’s not at all the same as the intimidating, ultra-serious tone of voice of Batman.
The visuals this month are, again, fantastic. I’m probably sounding like a broken record, as I’ve been praising Mora’s art since my Detective Comics reviews, and I have been doing this all throughout World’s Finest. If you ask me, Mora truly is the top artist in Big Two comics at the moment. His art is always so lifelike and detailed, even though it remains cartoony, with influences from manga. It should not be underestimated just how hard it is to pull off this blend of different influences and unify them in one style. I also respect that Mora always, without fail, goes the extra mile—even when he’s putting out multiple series and/or covers each month! His art raises the bar for American comics significantly, and add Bonvillain’s rich, varied and layered colors on top of it, and you just can’t go wrong. This is sequential art at its finest.
- You’re in the mood for a great mix of mystery, action, adventure and character work.
- Character dynamics in particular are very important to you.
- Mora and Bonvillain are your favorite art team.
Overall: This book fires on all cylinders. From the excellent character work to the adventure and the mystery, this is a book that anyone that’s into superhero comics could enjoy. And even if you’re not necessarily into superheroes, or if you’re on the verge of giving up on them, this gem of a comic book series is a master class example of how this kind of stuff should be executed. If you’re only going to get one superhero book this month, make sure it’s this one. All the other books pale by comparison, anyway.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.