Monday, May 31, 2021

Review: Batman/Superman #18

Batman/Superman #18 came out last week and was another fun romp through alternate universes and the machinations of Auteur.10. 

Writer Gene Luen Yang continues to spin this fun tale of Elseworlds and showcasing the differences between a world where Martha Wayne lived and Superman is a peak hero with one where Batman is fighting standard corruption in a world without the Man of Steel. Moreover, he shows how these two pieces of the World's Finest, even when from disparate universe, would quickly become friends and partners. I like that. I also like that some characters, particularly Robin and Jimmy Olsen, have a sort of refreshing innocence to them. A Boy Wonder should be happy, not grim.
But I also can't help but think that part of this story is a commentary on the Snyderverse, fanatical fans demanding their views be the only view, and how big media is trying to warp these characters into something mass marketable. If you look for the meta-text, it's there.
Ivan Reis is on art with inks by Danny Miki and everything just sings. This really is a sort of romp of a story and the art pushes that pace along. Wonderful.

On to the book.

In space, our Superman and Batman struggle against Auteur.10. 

Whether it is the Kryptonite ring he pulled from one of his film worlds or ultimately a Phantom Zone crystal he pulls from another, there seems to be an endless array of Deus Ex Machina he can grasp.

What is Auteur.10? An AI meant to approximate human creativity purchased by film makers. In other words, Hollywood trying to eliminate the writer in projects and having plots created by algorithms. Hilarious and sad at the same time. If you haven't seen Robert Altman's The Player, go watch it. In it similar executives say the screenwriters are unnecessary for movies.

Perhaps this also shows how current Hollywood has to homogenize everything so it doesn't offend groups, people, or other countries. How smaller movies are being pushed out for big budget franchises.

In this story, given the Auteur bleeds, the AI has probably merged with someone. Perhaps an auteur director how has a specific vision for characters, their histories be damned?

In the film world we explored, we are now on Superman's Earth where Martha Wayne has been bringing in new technology to eliminate crime. On this Earth, Bruce is a simpering man-child.

Once through the wormhole, our heroes realize they are in the area where the Batcave should be. Remember, these wormholes manifest in places that significantly differ between the universes. The Batman is shocked by its emptiness and on hearing Martha is still alive.

'What did you say about Martha?' I mean that has to be a poke at BatmanVSuperman.

With Superman mopping up security robots and saving Jimmy from this world's Bane'd Alfred, Batman heads up to explore Wayne Manor.

There he sees his other self, cowering behind his mother.

And then his mother shoots him. 

It is like some twisted version of his own origin but now with his mother as the killer.

Luckily, Superman is able to whisk the Dynamic Duo and Lois and Jimmy away. Bruce is patched up.

I have to chuckle at Jimmy thinking he is Superman's partner.

And the joy in which Jimmy and Robin exchange notes on their mentors is also funny.

From within Martha's cave, this world's Lex Luthor gets a message out that Martha has been involved in inter-universe trading. It is how she is getting her tech. She is meeting her dealer that night at the site of another breach. 

As I said, these wormholes manifest in places where there are major discrepancies. 

So, of course, the Wayne mausoleum is missing Martha so the next one would appear there. I like these internally consistent plot points.

Dr. Atom comes out to help Martha figure out a way to subdue the Superman and Batman from stopping her. He gives her a serum to out-hulk Superman. And she, interestingly, gives it to her Bruce.

Robin and Batman take out Dr. Atom and remove his Kryptonite from the fight scene.

That leaves Superman to take on a Bizarro Bruce who is quite strong.

A super-strong Bizarro Bruce Wayne. Okay. It sounds like fan-fic but it isn't bad.

Martha again aims to kill Batman but he reveals who he is and shows her that her quest for peace has cost her something.

I can't help but think this is a commentary on both the Batman from the SnyderVerse who freely uses guns to kill just about anybody who crosses his path versus recent Batman interpretations where he is paranoid and willing to do anything to prepare.

Remember the good old days where heroes would say something like 'I can't do something the villains would do because then I would be no better than they are'.

Dr. Atom turns out to be Lex Luthor from yet another film world, one which the Auteur found lacking and destroyed. This Luthor actually has noble ends. He wants the Auteur to spare a universe so he is trying to create the perfect world. 

How intriguing that the 'perfect world' is one where there is a Superman and not a Batman. Can you imagine any Luthor saying a world where Superman is the ultimate hero is the perfect one? I think if you asked actual Hollywood people, they'd say the opposite. Maybe this is the ultimate folly here. Luthor's perfect world isn't what the Auteur program would say is perfect. Maybe he is setting up this world to be scrapped.

With Martha confessing, the crime here is over.

Superman calls Batman and Robin is partners from Gotham, a nice show they are already friends.

And if I thought a Bizarro Bruce was a good idea how could I not like a Bizarro-TwoFace-Bruce.


We end the book where it started.

The Auteur.10 has grabbed a Phantom Zone criminal to battle our heroes. But now Lex and the other heroes are present too. 

What a hoot!

I think this works on all levels. If you don't see the meta-commentary, the story flows wonderfully. If you see it, it adds a nice depth to the proceedings. But the plot itself and these two new worlds we are discovering - it all just reads smooth and entertaining.

Who will be unmasked as the person cloaked in the Auteur tech? Will it be someone we know?

Overall grade: A

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is proving a fun read, I am sure it'll get ruined sooner or later, but I agree most emphatically with our host that this is a satiric comment on the bewildering, sometimes corrupt sometimes stupid state of the DCU film universe. Batman Superman, Robin, Jimmy Olsen should seize control of the narrative by injecting sixties style campy humor into the "storyline" force the rogue AI to self destruct for lack of a "camp archive"...