Overview: In Batman/Superman #16, Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent produce the best introductory highlight film of the year as this issue encapsulates their many feats over the years.
Synopsis (Spoilers Ahead!): Gene Luen Yang’s run kicks off with an instant-double feature spinning out of Dark Nights: Death Metal. We follow Batman and Superman around in three separate storylines. All of the layouts fold along a Golden Age-style film reel. One movie reel focuses on the Man of Steel, while the other takes place in Gotham City. Both begin with small panels of Bruce and Clark’s origins.
Superman’s is a fairly old tale one may be familiar with. In a dashing conference, Clark Kent and the Daily Planet witness a technological feat of an omni-battery that can power all of Metropolis. Interrupted and attacked by none other than the Unknown Wizard and his robots, Superman quickly saves the day. However, it is none other than Lex Luthor revealed to be the one behind the attack.
In Gotham, a cafeteria truck pulls out of Gotham Asylum seemingly harmless. However, the Joker, Penguin, and Spider Lady successfully break out using clever disguises. It is up to none other than the crime-fighting duo of Batman and Robin to stop them. Robin quickly incapacitates the Joker and Penguin while Batman stops Spider Lady, in her tracks. However, Spider Lady remarks that Arkham Asylum is somehow tied to the Daily Planet with an incident that happened two years ago. The Arkham Warden also is tied to the Daily Planet. Robin exudes confidence as Batman quickly drops a visit to the Warden of Arkham. They both stumble upon the capsule that sent Clark to planet Earth and quickly disappear as the Warden drops an appearance.
As the story continues, both film reels begin to erode. The Asylum inmates and criminals are infected with some sort of disease that creates battery acid foiling their skin into purple bubbles. Meanwhile, Daily Planet reporters Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen investigate the whereabouts of the omni-battery. It is noted that in Lois’ investigations, Wayne Enterprises produced the “one-battery energy,” tied to the battery powering Metropolis.
Both stories collide in epic proportions. As the Daily Planet reporters make a visit to Wayne Manor, Batman and Robin head to the Arctic for a lengthy fight against a strange metallic figure. While Lois heads down to the bunker, Alfred morphs into a Bane-like figure. Superman just comes in time only to see her falling from Superman’s film to Batman’s film. Batman only replies with “You. You’re the Spider-Lady.”
It transitions to the third storyline where Batman and Superman spot a satellite covered in film. Clark simply remarks that it did not feel like the film at all. The panel then cuts to robotic figures, ending the issue.
Analysis: Gene Luen Yang shows off a very strong voice for Superman in Batman/Superman #16. Perhaps it is an older, 1960s feel, but this Superman with a smile on his face feels comforting and reminiscent of another era. To support my point, Clark sports a fedora out in Metropolis. He is stoic and poised to fight crime, while at the same time, is the kindhearted boy scout.
The same can be said for Yang’s Batman. In his first true attempt at writing Batman proper, Yang nailed the tone of the “Adam West-like” Batman and Robin in their own separate storyline. “Take the wheel” generates excitement, as you root for the crime-fighting duo to stop the criminals of Gotham. Yang writes both of these characters, as well as Superman, in a way that feels organic, even though they do not necessarily share the same panel as Batman and Superman proper for quite some time.
The main attraction for Batman/Superman #16 is the film reel style, as the concept is fleshed out and intuitive. Ivan Reis has grown from his time on Chuck Austen’s Action Comics. As one of the highlights of this issue, his paneling is nothing but spectacular. Perhaps the most dazzling of his renditions is the use of the double-page spread. Ivan is not a rookie in the double-page spread format; for instance, Reis produced plenty of spreads in Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern and Aquaman. The older scenes are a subtle breath of fresh air. Ivan also shows dedication in his ability to create facial expressions, particularly in his eyebrows. The panels where Superman looks baffled and where Alfred and Robin are investigating are pure comedic gold.
Letterers usually do not receive much credit, but Saida Temofonte’s font choices are brilliant in Batman/Superman #16. If the writing and art already have not sold it, the letters only add to the classic Golden Age feel of the comic. The “whump” from Lois Lane is the highlight of it. As the film weaves, the letters gracefully but powerfully demonstrate the emotions of Lois in that panel.
Editor’s Note: DC Comics provided TBU with a copy of this comic for review purposes. You can find this comic digitally and help support TBU in the process by purchasing this issue either through Comixology or Amazon.