Cursed to endure an endless cycle of death and rebirth, each reincarnation of Solomon Grundy is something new. This reincarnation of Solomon Grundy happens to be a radioactive bomb capable of wiping out half the United States. With a blizzard blanketing Gotham, and every supervillain desperate to capture the unstable villain for their own nefarious agendas, Batman has called in the Big Blue Boy Scout for help. Will Batman and Superman be able to return Grundy to Slaughter Swamp before he detonates, or is our world destined for nuclear winter?
“I called because I knew you’d answer.”
A quick, done-in-one story, Batman/Superman #15 is an enjoyable read from start to finish. A large part of this issue’s success is due to Williamson’s understanding of Bruce and Clark’s friendship and a theme of hope permeating the story. However, despite all there is to love about this issue, a few narrative choices prevent it from rising above its peers.
One of the things that I have loved the most about Joshua Williamson’s run of Batman/Superman has been the use of Silver-Age inspired sci-fi spectacle. Issue #15 is no exception. The concept that Solomon Grundy is reincarnated as a bomb during this cycle of death and rebirth is something that instantly drew me to this book. Thankfully, Williamson’s execution of this plot point does not disappoint.
As Batman and Superman seek to return the volatile Grundy to his home, the Secret Society of Super-Villains has sent Deadline and an assortment of other members to acquire the ticking time bomb. At one point, Deadline attempts to reason with Grundy so that he will cooperate. He says, “…You want to destroy, right? Let’s go, big guy. We’ll make sure you go boom, okay?” Fortunately, Deadline’s attempts to coerce Grundy to the dark side are unsuccessful, as the big guy responds by pummeling Deadline into the ground. Grundy clearly wants help, not to destroy the world.
Moments such as this, and him referring to Swamp Thing as a friend, do a good job exploring Solomon Grundy’s character. Unfortunately, these moments are too few and far between. Even in a done-in-one story such as Batman/Superman #15, it’s still possible to examine a character meaningfully. Williamson’s choice to dedicate so much of the page count to explaining this Silver Age-inspired conflict and diving deep into the action sequences does not provide much room for character exploration.
As a result, it’s hard to become invested in the conflict. This is a shame because Williamson’s message relates to something that we all need: hope. Batman and Superman eventually fend off the Secret Society of Super-Villains and provide a peaceful death for Solomon Grundy. Because of their actions, Swamp Thing hopes that this will positively impact Grundy’s next life. Batman/Superman #15’s final moments are still impactful, just not as powerful as they would have been with more Grundy-driven character moments.
Despite this, Joshua Williamson continues to do an excellent job exploring Batman and Superman’s friendship. The dialogue that he crafts between these two characters is so completely natural that you would believe they were brothers. Bruce and Clark’s friendship provides much of the levity needed in such a dire scenario.
“It’s always been baffling to be honest, Batman.”
Unfortunately, the artwork is a bit of a weakness for this issue. Bressan and Sanchez do an excellent job rendering each of the action sequences, but there are several panels where the facial work feels off. A lot of it is due to odd or inconsistent facial structures and a few awkward facial expressions. Additionally, there is one panel in which Superman is breaking a villain’s swords. In it, his arm structure feels off compared to the other pages. Moreover, I typically love the use of dark ink and thick linework. However, there are several panels where the dark ink feels out of place compared to the rest of the artwork.
Overall, Batman/Superman #15 is an enjoyable read from start to finish. Williamson’s exploration of Bruce and Clark’s friendship and exploration of Solomon Grundy are a strength of the issue. Unfortunately, I would have loved to have more character-driven moments involving Grundy. I believe this would have helped to sell the conflict and make Williamson’s hope-centered theme more powerful. Additionally, Bressan and Sanchez do an excellent job rendering action sequences despite some awkward body structures and some excessive blank ink in certain panels.
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