Sometimes under the weight of the work week, not all comic books get reviewed. Case in point, DC Comics Batman Superman issue 22 released almost three weeks ago (7/8/2015) and I just got around to giving it a read this morning. Greg Pak and Ardian Syaf’s “Truth Hurts” storyline continues, along with providing another chapter in the overarching Superman post-Convergence saga, “Truth.” It’s a title that would normally be at the top of my reading list, but with all the coverage on whether or not we’ll see Evangeline Lilly as Wasp (which you can read here) or on the upcoming Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (which you can locate here) this solid issue was lost in the shuffle. It’s an issue that is still readily available at comic shops, features a regular cover along with a Teen Titans Go! variant serving as a fun homage to The Dark Knight Returns & Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. It’s just about one of the best Batman and Superman stories yet, mind you, this isn’t even Bruce Wayne Batman, so take that into consideration!
“Clark Kent! You’re under arrest!” the Robo-Batman/Gordon Batman tells Clark. Let’s take into consideration that the world now knows that Clark Kent is Superman after being outed in Gene Luen Yang’s Superman solo series. Bruce Wayne is no longer Batman and is his disappearance, Commissioner Gordon has taken over for him. So post-Convergence, the new look of DC Comics features a world with one foot firmly in the future and the other comfortably set it the past. What readers and fans get is a story that returns Superman back to his champion of the people, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound hero that Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster originally created. As for Batman? While certain readers aren’t fully on board with Gordon as Batman and wearing a redesigned armored suit that people have joked at for having “bunny ears”, it’s a suitable change made to the acclaimed series by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo. What we have here, in Batman Superman issue 22 is a dynamic more closely related to the early days of Batman and Superman’s partnership. They’re able to work with one another, but don’t trust each other, and probably do more harm than good when paired. The more militarized Batman is only focused on providing a balance of justice to the city and operates as a RoboCop lite version of a police officer for Gotham City/Metropolis.
Both Clark and Batman fight one another and the explosive battles look gorgeous thanks to the work of artist Ardian Syaf and colors by Dean White, Beth Sotelo, and Blond. The issue has it’s own unique appeal that fits with this series, but also manages to feel very much in line with Snyder and Capullo’s Batman. Batman recognizes that Clark is “depowered” and “just barely strong enough” to hold him back. After they tussle, Clark realizes that the weapon he’s investigating is a tool that’s able to absorb energy.
“It’s Dawn Command, isn’t it?” At The Gotham Waterfront, Clark and Batman meet with Lucius Fox. It’s personally striking to think that Fox has become such a recognizable fixture in the Batman and DC Comics. I suppose we could thank Chris Nolan and Morgan Freeman for that. Clark and Batman warn Lucius that his facility is “about to be attacked from below by barbarians with energy absorbing weaponry.” The tension builds as we learn that Fox has been working on the “core project.” It’s revealed to be a miniature sun that was taken from S.T.A.R. Labs and birthed by accident two years prior. “It’s beautiful” Clark says while admiring the sun, and provides a possible opportunity for the writers. Here’s a thought. Superman is currently depowered, but gets his powers from the sun, yes? Is it possible that in order to protect the world from the miniature sun from killing everyone in three miles, he could somehow merge with it? Could this development aid Clark in restoring him back to full powers by the end of “Truth”?
Greg Pak has easily written some of the best Batman/Superman and Action Comics stories and issue 22 is no different. Currently, the situation with Superman has returned the character to who he was when he first debuted. The idea to strip back Superman works and has interestingly explored his motivations, strengths, and weaknesses as a hero. In a further development, Pak reintroduces Ukur, Beastlord of Subterranea, a character he created with Aaron Kuder in Action Comics issue 27. It’s an exciting moment for fans that have been following Pak and Kuder’s work. It’s also interesting to see Ardian Syaf’s vision of Ukur, a cleaner and sharper version, compared to Kuder’s more extravagant horror take.
Batman Superman issue 22 is filled with some great action moments that showcase Syaf’s strong sense of visuals and staging. If you like Batman and Superman and have enjoyed their current storylines, this issue is definitely one you should read, if you have yet to already do so. It’s an exciting time for DC Comics fans as they are clearly showing that there’s a direction for their characters that will take them to new places. As Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice grows closer to its March 2016 release, expect Pak’s Batman Superman series to heat up so now is easily the best time to start tracking down these back issues.
Batman Superman issue 22 gets five stars.
(W) Greg Pak (A/CA) Ardian Syaf, Vicente Cifuentes
The Superman epic you never expected – “TRUTH” continues! Can Superman accept the truth about his new partner? Featuring the all-new Batman!
Item Code: MAY150190 In Shops: 7/8/2015 SRP: $3.99