Batman/Superman Annual 2021 #1 – Gene Luen Yang, Writer; Francisco Francavilla, Paul Pelletier/Mick Gray, Artists; Hi-Fi, Colorist
Ray – 9.5/10
Ray: The main narrative is over, but there’s still one more phenomenal adventure to be told in Gene Luen Yang’s multiversal epic. The Archivists are no longer a threat, and the Archive now serves as a pathway in the multiverse. That allows the Superman and Batman of their respective worlds—where the other never existed—to meet up again, and switch worlds in this flip-book adventure. Each one takes on a threat their counterpart isn’t well-suited for, starting with Superman heading over to Batman’s world to take on Warden Luthor—who has upgraded himself into a sort of Brainiac-hybrid. Controlling the minds of countless villains, including a supercharged Parasite. This segment is drawn by Francisco Francavilla and has a brilliant noir style, and I loved the interaction between Superman and the mysterious Spider Lady—this world’s Lois Lane. It’s a very clever take on some golden-age tropes.
But I actually think the second feature, sending Batman over to Superman’s world, is even better. Paul Pelletier’s art isn’t as distinct, but it tells the story well. It picks up on the plotline of Bruce Wayne turning into the Bizarro Two-Face after aiding his mother’s criminal schemes. Now locked up in Blackgate, which is an automated prison focused on rehabilitation, he breaks out and sets out to kidnap his mother for a reunion—set on the anniversary of Thomas Wayne’s death. The Wayne family’s trauma is something that’s obviously been explored many times, but we rarely get to see it processed like this. This is also one of the better uses of Bizarro speech I’ve seen in a while, and it’s great to see how the various counterparts of supporting characters on the different worlds. The two stories eventually fold together in a very clever way that seals the deal for this run being considered a new minor classic.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.