The best part of a team-up book like this is the combinations you can get out of the characters’ rogues gallery. Ra’s al Ghul and General Zod are both power alphas yet it appears they are working together. Or so it appears. So begins Joshua Williamson’s second story arc in the Batman/Superman series.
This is a very good issue to drop in on. It opens with a nice recap of Kandor–in case you weren’t familiar with the shrunken Kryptonian city–setting up the main element of the story. It then dives right into an action montage of Superman and Batman fighting baddies giving us a taste of what Batman and Superman are up to and that they team up frequently. This transitions things nicely to the latest and main caper the two are on, which draws them into Ra’s al Ghul’s plans. Williamson gives us enough action before dialing things back and getting into the exposition-meat of the story. Generally speaking, the plot makes sense and it does a good job of establishing two of the main bad guys and looping in Kandor too. Quite frankly it’s a clever twist I’m surprised nobody has thought up yet, but that’s why in Williamson we trust!
The art is by Nick Derington who has a very clean and pleasing line. I simply adore the extreme close-ups–there are a few of them–which allow Derington to play with the depths of wrinkles on Ra’s al Ghul’s face, or the scary eyebrows of Zod. Dave McCaig colors the issue and there’s a brightness that suits these heroes and good volume added thanks to his work. I also adore the shadow work that’s subtle which you can especially see in the close-up shots. Derington likes to give facial hair to his characters–save for Superman as stubble is a crime on that chiseled face of his–which allows these subtle color choices to shine too.
I will say there’s a common team-up trope at work here involving Ra’s al Ghul that had me rolling my eyes a bit. Look, it’s superhero comics and I get it, we got to get these characters going on the adventure already, but Superman and Batman seem to trust Ra’s al Ghul way too quickly. This especially after he attacks them right off the bat. Superman also seems to gloss over the “synthetic” Kryptonite sword Ra’s al Ghul used on him. I like the idea of these characters interacting, but I found it hard to believe Superman and Batman wouldn’t just arrest Ra’s al Ghul and then go try to solve this Zod problem on their own.
This is a good first issue in a new story arc for the series. It has done well to set up a clever conflict that makes for a fantastic cliffhanger. The art is excellent too and you have to love the extreme close-ups especially since you don’t see them done this well every day.
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