When a mysterious distress call beckons Batwoman and Steel to the Batcave, the heroes find the World’s Greatest Detective’s headquarters in shambles. Amidst the smoldering wreckage, there is no sign of the Superman or Batman, other than a corrupted transmission from the Caped Crusader. The villain behind their sudden disappearance: Brainiac. Will the duo uncover the World’s Finest’s whereabouts, or are they destined to fall in the same trap?
“… If Batman and Superman are in danger, then it looks like a job for Batwoman and Steel.”
Bursting at the seams with Silver Age-inspired spectacle, Batman/Superman #12 is a fun read from start to finish. Although a large portion of the entertainment is derived from Max Raynor’s rendering of the outrageous action sequences, Joshua Williamson sells this story with his understanding of this duo’s dynamics. Additionally, Williamson’s framing device provides an engaging exposition dump for the reader. This isn’t to say that there aren’t a few hiccups along the way, but they’re only minor issues with dialogue that minimally detract from the story.
One of the things that I enjoyed the most about Batman/Superman #12 was the use of Bruce’s desperate message as a framing device. Not only does this provide an entertaining exposition dump, but it also allows other characters like Batwoman and Steel to have a chance in the spotlight. Unfortunately, Batwoman and Steel aren’t given much more to do than stand, strike poses, and absorb information. However, it is evident that these two characters will serve as the main protagonists for the next issue. I am excited to read where Williamson takes Batwoman and Steel as I have a special place in my heart for both characters.
Additionally, I love how Williamson’s implementation of Batman’s message sets this issue up as a mystery. As Batwoman and Steel listen for clues behind the heroes’ whereabouts, it’s hard not to get wrapped up in the story. It’s almost a shame that the cover spoils the culprit behind the World’s Finest’s disappearance. However, I think this story’s power doesn’t lie with their captor’s identity, but rather what devious plan he has in store for them. Williamson solidifies this point by giving us a glimpse of Brainiac’s scheme on Batman/Superman #12’s shocking final page.
“It worked, but you’re making that face you do when you’re worried.”
Max Raynor’s artwork does a lot of the heavy lifting in this issue, as he expertly renders each fight scene in Batman/Superman #12. As a bonus, this book completes the coveted “Outrageous Action Sequence Bingo Card.” Batman and Superman fighting a lava-filled Chemo in front of a volcano: check. A rampaging Justice Buster Armor: check. Superman wrecking the Batmobile: check. A self-destructive Batcave: check. A cybernetic army of Batman and Superman’s worst antagonists recreated using Brainiac’s technology: check. And we didn’t even need the free space. It might be an understatement to say that the pages are overflowing with sci-fi spectacle.
Raynor’s artwork is excellent throughout each of these sequences. Additionally, the detail that he put into the beaten and bloody Batman is perfect. The bandage over his eye is an excellent stylistic choice that evokes imagery of the weary, war-worn hero. Alejandro Sanchez’s colors give each panel depth. They allow Batwoman and Steel to pop off the page, while Batman’s message plays on a damaged screen.
However, none of this would work as well without Williamson’s understanding of Batman and Superman’s relationship and great dialogue. Superman’s ability to read Batman’s facial expressions is excellent and emphasizes that these characters have worked together for a long time. Moments like this help sell this story. Additionally, Raynor’s artwork punctuates this moment with an image that perfectly captures Batman’s sense of worry and dissatisfaction.
Unfortunately, there are a few instances of dialogue that do take you out of the moment. One of them involves Steel lamenting the fact that Batman and Superman should have checked in on Supergirl. This dialogue happens in a panel immediately after Batman mentions her fall to the Batman Who Laughs, so logic would assume that Batman is now keeping tabs on the Girl of Steel. It’s a small moment, but one that I feel could use some revision.
Additionally, when writing Batman, Williamson typically uses a more analytical, or proper, dialect. However, the use of proper grammar in Batman/Superman #12’s final moments takes the punch out of Batman’s words. As illustrated earlier in the issue, Batman does attempt to curse and use improper grammar when the stakes are high enough. Although the last sentence does not necessitate any curse words, I think a less polished sentence would lend credence to their situation’s sense of urgency.
Ultimately, Batman/Superman #12 is a fun, Silver-Age inspired spectacle. Max Raynor’s artwork does a lot of the heavy lifting in this issue, as he expertly renders each outrageous action sequence. However, none of this would work as well without Clark and Bruce’s relationship as the tale’s emotional core. Unfortunately, there are a few instances of clunky dialogue that stop this issue from achieving perfection.