Batman/Superman #14 Review

Written by: Greg Pak

Art by: Diogenes Neves & Marc Deering

Publisher: DC

I love Batman. I love Superman. I love Batman and Superman together. With issue 14 of Batman/Superman I think I’m realizing that I’ve about hit my limit with the convoluted nature of this series.

After Batman and Superman had their memories wiped by Kaiyo a couple issues ago (for the second time in the book’s 14 issue run?) we were treated to an opening in which Kaiyo fell into the clutches of Lord Satanus. The two then seem to be conspiring to act against the heroes. Exactly what their endgame is though, we don’t know. What we end up with is Superman and Batman running around confused about who they are. Clark has fallen under the influence of Catwoman, and Bruce, without the knowledge of his past, is living the life of the billionaire playboy that he normally only puts on as an act. Midway through this issue, Batman and Lois Lane stumble on each other. Pairing Superman with Catwoman and Batman with Lois Lane could provide some intriguing story fodder. The end of the issue leaves us with Catwoman leading Superman down an interesting path.

With the art, Diogenes Neves and Marc Deering have picked up what Jae Lee was doing and moved it much closer to traditional comic art. The art in Batman/Superman has been a sticking point since the start. Lee’s style was consistently beautiful, but, at the same time, it often made figuring out exactly what was supposed to be going on from panel to panel overly difficult. June Chung remains on coloring, which manages to keep the more traditional art style from feeling completely out of place with what the series has done before. While I would be less inclined to, say, get a print of Neves or Deering’s art to put on my wall than Lee’s, they simply manage to move the visual story along from panel to panel in a more coherent way.

The biggest obstacle for this run of Batman/Superman has been that it’s simply too tangled for its own good. Greg Pak has come up with some provocative elements to add to the way these characters met and interacted during their early years, but wading through his odd narrative choices makes the proceedings more of a chore than it’s needed to be. The series reads like a fever dream rendition of what the story actually is. This issue continues the general feeling that Pak is throwing random plot points at the heroes, rather than telling a story that explores anything about their relationship. Perhaps the most effective moment of this issue is when Alfred breaks down and tells Bruce that he’s actually happy that he can’t remember his past, because it will allow him to live a (semi) normal life. It’s a touching moment-perhaps one that would be more fitting in a solo Batman book-but it also seems to come at the expense of the Batman/Lois pairing, as she simply disappears from the issue when Pak cuts to this scene. I suppose it’s possible that we’ve simply reached the point in the history of the Batman/Superman pairing when it’s time to move away from the exploration of what they are together and into more obtuse tales involving them. After 14 issues I’m simply not sure any longer what Pak is accomplishing by doing that though.

This series has felt restrictive. There’s been a claustrophobic nature to the way that the story has progressed. I constantly find myself coming to the end of each issue hoping that the next will break things wide open. I’m not sure how much longer I can hold onto that hope.