It would have been easy to simply cancel “Batman/Superman” when “Convergence” kicked off. After all, Bruce Wayne was no longer Batman, and Superman’s life went into turmoil once all of the regular titles returned. Instead, the book continued, jumping directly into the kerfuffle surrounding both characters. Greg Pak and Cliff Richards kick off the book’s second post-“Convergence” storyline in “Batman/Superman” #25, even as they work on finding a way to keep the title’s main characters front and center.
As the new Batman is on bad terms with Superman, it makes sense Batman is barely in this comic as Superman tangles with Vandal Savage. Instead, the Batman quotient of “Batman/Superman” #25 is filled with members of the Batman family, primarily Batgirl. It’s a smart move; not only does it mix things up by offering us different combinations of characters, but the Batman family is so large the possibilities could continue for quite a few storylines. In the case of “Batman/Superman” #25, it’s also a relief to have Batgirl, because Vandal Savage himself is remarkably uninteresting here. Gone is the devious and charmingly untrustworthy Vandal Savage of “Demon Knights,” and in his place is a snarling stereotype of a villain. He kills underlings and gives over the top threats to anyone and everyone he meets. If he’s going to be the main villain of “Batman/Superman,” this is an ill portent. Each scene with Vandal Savage is painful to read and they drag the comic down.
As I mentioned before, Batgirl’s presence is a relief. It’s nice to see an antidote to the “no one can help me” personality of Superman we’ve been seeing in the other titles; hopefully, the other books will get to follow up on this development, with Superman shifting away from being a complete loner. Not only is Superman’s slow warming to Batgirl’s presence fun, but it’s even better for her to show him just how much she can accomplish. More and more, it feels like the ultimate goal of “Truth” is to have Superman no longer so reliant on his powers, so — when he does get them back — he can still use his wits and his connections as just an important part of his arsenal. If that’s the case, then “Batman/Superman” #25 is a big step forward on that road.
“Batman/Superman” #25 is one of Richards’ better comics. Similar to his work on “Angel & Faith Season 10” last month, his characters are slick and sleek without looking posed or stiff. I like his rendition of Superman; each artist as of late seems to depict him at a different age, and Richards has wisely gone for somewhere in the middle of that range. He’s not a teenager but also not middle-aged, and we get both an expression of great joy (on the glider) as well as defeat (Vandal Savage’s attack). Richards’ depiction of Batgirl is interesting to me, because — while it’s still piece-for-piece the new outfit that Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher and Bats Tarr introduced earlier this year — it’s done in a manner that is a bit more typical of the genre. Richards makes it a little more form-fitting, but — at the same time — doesn’t alter its basic shape or where the edges of the costume go.
“Batman/Superman” #25 has some strong elements, like members of the Batman Family instead of Batman and Richards’ art, but others –such as Vandal Savage — don’t work so well; it’s the proverbial mixed bag. Hopefully, Pak can use Vandal Savage in a slightly more interesting manner as this storyline progresses, especially since we’ve already seen him depicted in a much more interesting way in the New 52. In the end, the positives and negatives balance each other out almost exactly. I wish this issue was a little stronger, but — on the plus side — it hasn’t swung too far into the minus column, either.