Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Review: Batman/Superman #20

Batman/Superman #20 came out last week, the next chapter in the Auteur.IO storyline of a visionary being/story god who is looking to create the 'perfect' universe in a multiverse where that isn't possible.

It has been a fun ride with writer Gene Luen Yang giving us a Fleischer Studio style Superman with a Silver Age Batman and Robin teaming up with other alternate versions of DC heroes. Meanwhile, the 'real' Batman and Superman remain trapped in Auteur.IO's Phantom Zone crystal.

I have really enjoyed this arc. Yang has really used the other Batman and Superman to give us a very classic feel to the heroics. They read like the heroes of my own youth. He also has been giving us a sort of meta-commentary on current comics and movies. Whose vision is 'the' vision? Which is the 'perfect' vision? Does there need to be one take on these characters? Does the audience get to dictate the story? All things that I find fascinating.

As a double pleasure, Ivan Reis is on art and his stuff remains impeccable. As we are traveling from one film universe to another, Reis has to jump from environment to environment. Sci-Fi? Western? Horror? Metropolis and Gotham? It all looks great. And when you add in the film reel motif of the story, you get a difficulty multiplier. Seriously, there are two double page spreads in the middle of this issue which must have induced either a migraine or a hand cramp or both.

It makes me sad to know this book is ending. Because it has been a real treat on the shelves.

On to the book.

There is so much to appreciate in this story.

Auteur.IO was injured last issue by the heroes. Now he is ready to destroy all those that hurt him. It is time to destroy Superman's World Of Tomorrow. 

But that also means the world of El Diablo must razed.

But it is Auteur's dialogue I chuckle at. 'Contrary to appearances' he loves the characters he creates. But it time to 'kill your darlings'. The 'affection' line rings true if this is a side commentary on Snyder-verse furor. How can you love Superman and portray him as he was in Man of Steel or BatmanVSuperman.

The heroes aren't about to let these villagers die in quicksand. So Batman and the others load everyone on the train and Superman pulls them out. After all, they are here to help.

It's that simple. 

Heroes help people.

But that scene of Superman pulling the train reminded me of his pulling the train in 'Billion Dollar Limited' catroon by the Fleischer Studios.

In this story about films, it can't be coincidence, can it?

Meanwhile, Auteur.IO licks his wounds and heals up.

He craves the perfect world. Superman's World of Tomorrow isn't it and so it must be erased.

But it's destruction will be done 'artfully' because he is an artist of unrivaled vision.

For someone like me, who disliked the Snyderverse vision, I think this was written for me. The destruction there was done in a particular stylized glory. Of course, there are those that think him a visionary.

But this could be a commentary on any auteur director.

When Auteur.IO needs a world erased and he wants it done cinematically, he asks Etrigan from a different hell world to invade.

But something funny happens. Even though Etrigan is a character in an Auteur film, he wants to get something out of the deal. Why should he help?

You would think Auteur would simply say 'how about I don't erase your world'?

But instead he gives Etrigan the Phantom Zone gem which houses the power of our main heroes.

Etrigan is still a character. Is this an example of when an author will say 'a character sometimes writes itself, going in places it wants to'?

Powered up, Etrigan heads to the World of Tomorrow and just starts causing havoc. And then Etrigan discovers where this Earth's deadliest weapon is, something home grown he can use to destroy this place.

It is enough to make Jimmy hit the signal watch.

That Superman realizes he needs to head back home to protect his world.

This is the brilliance of Ivan Reis. This is just a portion of a two page spread with him traveling back to home.

I mean this is insanity, with film reels, tiny frames filled with characters (is that Wonder Woman?), explosions. And out characters making their way through this bleed.

This is brilliance. 

It must have taken him forever. It is gorgeous. 

But a handful of heroes can't keep a swarm of demons at bay.

El Diablo is slashed to death. And Robin almost buys it.

I love Batman here, protecting his young partner but also telling Robin to take a moment and gather himself. He cares!

I love it.

It doesn't seem to end well.

The Demon's discovery was about Superman's Fortress. The ultimate weapon? An army of Superman robots.

Nice cliffhanger. 

I thought this was a pip of an issue. I just love these new worlds. I love the metacommentary. I love the art.

Perhaps Yang is an auteur of unrivaled vision?

Overall grade: A


Steve said...

I did like some bits to this story and the art is glorious (although I'd forgotten aboutagain skips my name up Alanna and wondered for a few pages which Earth had Lois as a scientist) this storyline just will not stop. I had the same problem with the writer's stint on Terrifics. In fact, when I got to that last page I sang to myself 'this is the story that never ends', paraphrasing the kids song. Since this book was doomed as it seems to have been, I would have preferred shorter stories that served a larger story like Yang's excellent New Superman than him again going on and on and on with one interminable one.

(and if this again drops my name, it's me, Steve)

William Ashley Vaughan said...

Batman/Superman is easily the best Superman comic being published today. Lots of great Superman moments. However, I also like that Batman isn't portrayed as a paranoid lunatic. I practically cheered when Robin asks they are going to deal with a horde of demons and he answers, "We start the way we always do, Robin. We protect the innocent."
That is a superhero. That is Batman.