Sometimes it takes a village to draw a comic, but that’s not necessarily a terrible thing. Four artists and a colorist tag team to bring “Batman/Superman” #15 to life, the final half of Greg Pak’s arc where both of the title’s namesakes deal with the temporary loss of their lifelong memories courtesy of Satanus and Kaiyo. Kaiyo, of course, has been messing with the world’s finest since the first issue of the series, but this time Pak uses the character to explore an interesting side of both heroes.
Pak’s Superman, with no recollection of his Kent family upbringing, has a much darker persona who revels in his powers, yet interestingly not to the point where he seems truly threatening or villainous. More interesting still is Batman’s response to the situation, who conversely is a much happier and sociable character without the pain of his parents’ murder haunting him. The switch in the dynamic is a clever one on an individual basis for each character, but the larger dynamic between the two is left largely unexplored, as Bats and Supes are separated for a large part of the issue.
Instead, Pak focuses more on the interaction between a more brutal Superman and Catwoman, of all people, who finds herself attracted to a more vengeful Man of Steel who’s not so much of a Boy Scout anymore. It’s a mashup that plays into the nature of the title, where all kinds of interactions between the main characters and each other’s supporting cast are easily enabled, and it’s an intriguing enough notion. What it’s not, however, is the more compelling Light Knight/Man of Darkness team-up that holds more promise.
Similarly, Batman finds himself drawn to Lois Lane, another interesting notion until the implausible turn of Lois donning a Bat-family uniform and swinging into action as the other half of an improbable Dynamic Duo. This part of the story does have a kind of Silver Age, Mort Weisinger-era kind of charm, but it doesn’t really fit alongside the general darker circumstance and the demonic villains behind it.
Still, implausibilities aside, Pak turns out a story that’s relatively simple and largely fun. The first half page tells readers everything they need to know for the rest of the story, and its linear nature makes it plenty accessible even to those who missed last issue. Except, perhaps, just who exactly Batman is seen visiting on the very next page; it’s Lois, of course, but the character isn’t immediately recognizable as rendered by the art team, and uninformed readers are left guessing until two pages later. A simple addition to the existing caption at the start of the scene would have great enhanced Pak’s otherwise succinct intro.
The art throughout the issue is more consistent than the roster of names listed in the credits might indicate. The simpler, angular lines that dominate the appearance of this issue don’t really jibe with the more stylized look of frequent series artist Jae Lee, who composed the attractive and symbolic cover, but it stands fine on its own. The issue’s artistic highlight is a pair of splash pages that each show a stark and representative flash of a lifetime’s worth of memories, first for Batman, then for Supes, when their memories inevitably return. Both images would each make for a nice looking set of posters which essentially and wordlessly sum up the New 52 origins of each character.
“Batman/Superman” #15 is a fun and decent looking, if inconsistent, comic that has some interesting character team-ups but doesn’t really take full advantage of its potential.