Greg Pak and Jae Lee’s “Batman/Superman” #13 begins a brand new arc that finds both Batman and Superman riddled with amnesia and finding their way carefully in a confusing new world.
Amnesia stories can be a pointless and repetitive drag, but Pak subverts things nicely and breathes real life, comedy and drama into the idea of a Batman and Superman who don’t know who they are. Pak effortlessly toes the line with the amnesia, beautifully finding their authentic and recognizable voices even while establishing them as lost at sea. Batman especially benefits from a sense of humor rarely seen by readers, but Pak is careful not to tip things over too far. There’s no doubt that these are Clark and Bruce, but through a slightly different prism — and it’s very fun.
Similarly, by mixing up the dynamic and starting with a Superman/Catwoman team up, Pak is able to play with relationships less frequently seen, thus mining more unfamiliar territory to good effect. There’s not much to the plot — it’s mostly Batman and Superman trying (separately) to get their bearings, Lois talking with Mangubat, Catwoman trying to manipulate Superman, and a tease of the villainous Kaiyo from the previous arc, plotting with Lord Satanus. While the plot isn’t the issue’s strength, there’s plenty here to impress and entertain.
Lee has an elegant and yet severe style that absolutely excels in the emotional moments and action scenes Pak’s script gives him. A scene with a mostly naked Superman, a black-clad Catwoman looking little more than a magnificent human silhouette and architecture as it falls apart under attack is stunning. Colorist June Chung’s deep blue-blacks for the architecture set against a dark grey-blue sky lends a beautiful and appropriately Gotham look to the whole thing. Of course, Lee turns some of it literally upside down which gives it an “Alice In Wonderland” quality that takes it from stunning to breathtaking.
Though the villains in this issue (Magubat and his killer robots) are a little confusing from a plot standpoint, the way Lee cuts loose on the visuals for both is spectacular. When it comes to Clark and Bruce however, Lee could push their differences more. The subtle differences are there, but without masks on, they are legitimately hard to tell apart. While it’s not such a problem for this issue, it’s definitely a weaker aspect to the art overall. However, Lee’s Catwoman is sleek and devastatingly sharp in all the right ways. She is the not-so-secret star of the book, and the personality and vibrancy Lee breathes into her visual realization makes one absolutely salivate at the idea of a Jae Lee-drawn “Catwoman” solo series.
Pak takes everything one might expect in a Batman/Superman book and subverts it just enough to make it more interesting than you’d expect. When those ideas are paired with such exceptional artwork it’s easy to be smitten with “Batman/Superman” #13 and excited for this new arc.