With the story planned for this issue slipping to next month, “Batman/Superman” #10 has assembled a fill-in team of Jeff Lemire, Karl Kerschl and Scott Hepburn to fill the gap. At a glance, the concept — Ray Palmer is brought in by Superman to try and go on a “fantastic voyage” into Batman’s bloodstream — seems like a lot of fun. Unfortunately, the execution is a little lacking.
On the plus side, it’s nice to see S.H.A.D.E. back, as Father Time and his agents appear thanks to their shrink technology created by Ray Palmer. I’d like to see more of this not-quite-trustworthy organization down the line, and having them crop up here was a nice surprise. After the evil Atomica’s true intentions were revealed in “Justice League,” it was only a matter of time until Ray Palmer as the Atom was brought into the line’s titles.
Unfortunately, there’s not much else going for this issue in terms of story. Lemire’s attempts at humor, mostly via Ray Palmer, always come across a bit flat. The strange translations of the microscopic heroes’ names aren’t so much amusing as a little lame, and the various acronyms and jokes spouted off are likewise somewhat lackluster. And perhaps more importantly, at the end of the day the plot is remarkably light in “Batman/Superman” #10. There’s not much to it, with everything solved by either technobabble or a quick punch.
The comic is drawn by two different artists, and while their styles are similar enough that there are no clashes, it’s not perfect either. Kerschl’s art is the stronger of the two, with a nice look for Superman (a character he’s drawn for DC Comics in the past) that feels appropriately heroic from one page to the next. Hepburn’s art follows Kerschl’s in that clean-cut look that we’re seeing more and more of these days, but it’s a little garish and cartoonish in spots. Look at page 7, for example, when Superman and Ray Palmer first meet the aliens. When Superman exclaims, “I understood her!” his expression isn’t surprised or even excited. Instead, it looks like he’s announcing that he’s covered in vomit. Likewise, on the next panel, Superman’s expression is a strange mixture of haughty and boredom when he’s offering to help. I’m not sure how the disconnect between script and art happened, but it never quite matches in Hepburn’s pages.
“Batman/Superman” #10 seemed like it could be a lot of fun, and maybe for die-hard fans of Ray Palmer it’s reason to cheer. But otherwise, save for a final tag about S.H.A.D.E.’s attempted reach, there’s little to latch onto. Kerschl’s art is nice, but it’s not reason enough to jump in.