Rating: 3/5 – Starts strong, but doesn’t finish the same way
Batman Superman number one tells of the first meeting of Batman and Superman in the New 52. If you haven’t followed the New 52 as much, the continuity has Batman and Superman meeting for the first time, in costume, in Justice League #1. This goes a little further with both heroes meeting for the first time outside of their costumes, as Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne.
This issue opens with Clark Kent visiting Gotham City to investigate a string of murders that have close ties to Wayne Enterprises. When the two heroes first meet, we’re able to see the differences between the two characters in not only how they see the world around them, but also in their internal thoughts and monologues. Clark’s innocence and well meaning persona is contrasted not only by Bruce’s skepticism and brooding, but also by Gotham City itself. Jae Lee’s art and rendering of Gotham is dark and haunting while maintaining the the art deco style that we’ve seen in previous interpretations of the fictional city. We’ve seen Jae’s art numerous times in the past in the Inhumans and Dark Tower mini-series from Marvel, as well as in last years Before Watchmen: Ozymandias series. There was no surprise that his art style would be a great fit for Gotham and Batman, but what was surprising was just how well he could make the brighter Superman look and feel using that same dark style. Much of that credit should also be shared by colorist June Chung.
The coloring in the book is exquisite and in a two-page flashback panel that shows a streamlined version of the two characters origin stories, the light and dark blend perfectly together which is no easy feat. Unfortunately for this issue, Jae’s art doesn’t fill the whole book. Artist Ben Oliver pencils the final 7 pages of the story, along with a different colorist. While Oliver’s art isn’t bad in it’s own right, it does feel like a bit of a let-down that the same art can’t carry on through the whole issue.
The last portion of the story not only leaves us with a different art style but also with a confusing story twist that will have to be answered in future issues. This is Greg Pak’s first time writing in the DC universe and unfortunately, just like the art, the storytelling is strong up until the last quarter of the book. It’s understandable that most first issues will have a cliffhanger at the end, but this one could tend to leave readers who aren’t as familiar with the New 52 less excited by the prospects of the next issue.
Overall, this first issue works for three quarters of the issue. Unfortunately a weaker ending in both storytelling and art style left me not as excited for issue two. Because of the characters involved and the hope for Jae Lee’s art throughout, I’ll be back for the second issue. I just hope they can finish this first storyline off better than they finished this first issue.
Reviewed by: Shawn Hoklas – firstname.lastname@example.org
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