“Refracted” sees the end of writer Greg Pak and artist Jae Lee’s first story arc in the new Batman/Superman series.
Can the parallel universe Batmen and Supermen overcome Kaiyo’s mind-screwery? Whose world will be destroyed come issue’s end? And where does Darkseid fit into all of this? Is it good?
Batman/Superman #4 (DC Comics)
The first three issues of Batman/Superman impressed the hell out of me.
Like I said in last issue’s review, Greg Pak’s writing has been a pleasure: He knows these characters inside and out and shows proper reverence for their skillsets/demeanors and it shows. We’ve been given thorough looks inside the minds of younger, more capricious New 52 Batman and Superman and their synergism with both each other and their older, wiser Earth-2 counterparts and it’s been a fun ride to boot.
One problem: I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed with Batman/Superman #4 notwithstanding. The impressive interplay between the reality-spanning protagonists is there; the art by Jae Lee is eerily exquisite; and I’m always down for different iterations of Batman and Superman trading wits… but we already saw all this in the first three issues.
Alternative universe analogues just don’t understand.
So where’s the payoff?
There’s ominous portent aplenty. There’s speak of Darkseid. There’s some decent action. (Though mostly from Wonder Woman and Catwoman, who feel like they’ve been thrown into the mix “just because.”) There’s enigmatic equivalents of “You may have won the battle, but now you done brought a war you can’t win on yourselves.” But is that really enough? Did we really just trek through three issues of Odyssean build-up for a mindwipe and a bunch of esoteric comments?
All I came away with after reading Batman/Superman #4 was that feeling you get when the home team marches down the field only to get stuffed on the goal line.
On the one hand it’s impressive to see a narrative that doesn’t conform to hackneyed team-up conventions (heroes fight each other then team up against the bad guy(s) they would have had more trouble with alone); on the other hand, can we see the protagonists do something else besides size each other up, bicker, and admonish one another that they have no idea what they’re getting themselves into?
- Greg Pak knows Batman and Superman and it shows.
- Jae Lee’s artwork is creepy/sexy.
- Fun little ride.
- After all the build-up, this issue feels lacking.
Is It Good?
It’s alright; pick it up if you’ve been following the first three issues and want to see the pay-off, but temper your expectations for a conclusion as satisfying as the build-up.
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