Superman/Batman Annual #4

Story by
Art by
Renato Guedes, Jose Wilson
Colors by
Renato Guedes
Letters by
Steve Wands
Cover by
DC Comics

This is a comfortable story, despite the fact that it is the first time the world of "Batman Beyond" has been given an oversized story to stretch out in. The story could easily have gotten lost under the baggage of who the characters are and why they are doing what they're doing, but Levitz provides just enough to be informative while getting out of the way of the story proper. Early in the story, Levitz sets up the connection between Bruce Wayne and Terry McGinnis -- Batman -- so he can build on it throughout the rest of the issue.

Levitz has a mastery of these characters, which, to the best of my knowledge, he hasn't written before now. It helps, of course, to keep the cast of characters tight. While there are scenes with thugs, punks, and even a supervillain, the story itself is split between three voices, all of which would be identifiable without the characters' emblems leading off the captions.

Levitz crafts a mystery around an influx of Metropolis criminals flocking to Gotham, conveniently giving himself an easy way to connect Superman and Batman for this story. Sure, it sounds simple, but it is achieved in a manner that makes "simple" sound like work. Levitz does a great job making this story more than a single-note tale. The mystery of the migrating criminals is just a piece of the greater story told here. It's also just one of the mysteries McGinnis sets out to solve.

Terry McGinnis is portrayed as quite comfortable and adept in his role as Batman, keeping this story moving and McGinnis interesting. I haven't spent much time with the adventures of Terry McGinnis, but this universe makes a nice change of pace.

Guedes pulls double-duty on this book, providing pencil art and then coming back to color the pages after Jose Wilson's inks. The colors are loud and unconventional in parts, but smooth and well gradated in others, an effect Guedes uses masterfully to enhance his own storytelling and composition. Guedes draws some of the best characters today, and I'm glad to see his art again. Guedes adds to his portfolio in this issue by designing some great near-future tech and also drawing a Metropolis that is magnificent despite its obvious hardships. This book is one beautiful book, and the fact that Guedes draws the entire issue -- an over-sized issue no less! -- makes it all the better. If it took Guedes a year to draw this story, I'd dare say it was worth it and I do hope he is hard at work on next year's "Superman/Batman Annual." I would like to believe that Guedes is faster than that, however, and cannot wait to see where he goes from here.

Even if you've never gotten into "Batman Beyond," or don't want to find yourself liking a different incarnation of the Bat-family, this is still an enjoyable superhero mystery tale. There aren't any massive surprises, but the story told along the way is enjoyable and entertaining.

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