Despite what the cover says, the finale of “The Big Noise” doesn’t feature Ardian Syaf and Vicente Cifuentes on art, and Joe Casey has a co-writer, which could be why this is a weak, uninspired finish to the story. While “The Big Noise” hasn’t been a classic “Superman/Batman” story, it’s one that’s been building nicely, structured in a somewhat unconventional fashion, and this issue has it finish in a rather typical, mundane fashion coupled with inconsistent, sloppy art.
While Batman confronts a shapechanging alien enemy of Kryptonians in space, Superman deals with the cybernetic assassin known as NRG-X in his Fortress of Solitude. The fight between Superman and NRG-X is brief as Superman is quick and brutal, almost shockingly so. He seems angry, something that Superman rarely gets and it doesn’t fit the situation here. It also colors his actions when he joins Batman in space, being harsher than typical, while Batman is basically his sidekick. Neither hero is entirely in character.
The resolution to the threat of the shapechanging alien is dull despite these deviations of character. The alien never poses any serious threat, relying on the spaceship for the actual danger. It’s a hollow, subdued conclusion for a story with such a slow build. It needed something bigger as a payoff, but, with an unknown co-writer attached, who knows how much of this was Casey’s original intention and how much was altered? Either way, it’s less than satisfying.
Ardian Syaf wasn’t my favorite artist in the world, but his work was definitely better than the art delivered by Jason Fabok and his team of four inkers. He begins well with the opening pages of the issue delivering mostly strong, bold images with some nice line work. There are a few spots where the flow is weak, but there’s some really dynamic work in those opening pages. But, as the issue progresses, the art gets sloppier and sloppier, switching between heavy-handed inks and lighter ones. The styles in inking are so noticeable that they can’t help but distract, while the compositions and layouts become more muddled and less coherent. Given some more time and one inker, this could have been a good-looking comic instead of a deadline-crunched train wreck.
“Superman/Batman” #71 brings the “Our Worlds at War” tie-in story, “The Big Noise,” to a conclusion with nary a hint of “Our Worlds at War” and a generally inconsistent, sloppy issue. The characters don’t seem like themselves, while the plot ends weakly, and the art is messy and increasingly bad as the issue progresses. It’s a shame to see a story arc that had a nice, slow build end with such a crash.