The current storyline in Batman/Superman by Gene Luen Yang, Ivan Reis and Jose Luis has been nothing short of inspired. Mixing old school film reels, alternate realities, and clever layout design, the story has woven alternate takes on Superman and Batman into a trippy sci-fi story. It seems to be honoring the Golden Age of comics while also introducing a fresh idea to the mix. In the 18th issue out this week, Yang reveals what is going on while breaking barriers in brand new ways.
This issue opens with Superman and Batman of the main universe confronting the main threat and learning fairly early on it’s a computer program Lex Luthor created. How it ties into classic films while also threatening all of reality is a cool concept. Before we can understand the trippy meta nature of it all, the story dives back into the alternate Superman universe and alternate Batman universe. It’s a welcome sight to get more Alfred as Bane and a blubbering Bruce Wayne who clings to his mother. It’s equal parts wacky and clever and it’s a reminder comics can do so much other mediums can’t get away with.
This issue continues to use strips of film to break up the panels to remind us we’re witnessing film versions of alternate Batman and Superman worlds. The burning of film continues to break the fourth wall, though at this point there are layers on top of layers, which reduces the panel-breaking shock from previous issues in the arc.
Outside of the answers in the opening and closing pages of the book, seeing more into these alternate universes is compelling stuff. Getting to see Batman confront his mother, for instance, or seeing how Batman treats Robin in this universe, is intriguing stuff. It makes you wish for a Batman book with a young Robin who does trigonometry in his downtime and desire to please Batman as opposed to the Damian Wayne Robin and his dynamic with current Batman stories. Superman is also a bit goofier and more akin to the old school Supes we haven’t seen in ages.
The art is heavier on inks and darker in tone, which suits the quasi-sci-fi weirdness and troubling high stakes. Inks by Danny Miki and Jonas Trindade, and colors by Sabine Rich, avoid the brighter classic superhero feel one might assume a story like this would take. Since the art is forced into a repetitive film strip size layouts tend to be simpler, though the art breaks up as needed.
Batman/Superman #18 continues a delightful story that blends meta-narratives, classic superhero antics, and a sci-fi concept that bends reality in a new way. It’s ridiculously fun and exciting to see so many takes on Superman and Batman in one place.
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