BATMAN/SUPERMAN #5 REVIEW
Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Brett Booth
Inker: Norm Rapmund
Colorist: Andrew Dalhouse
Review by Suzanne Nagda
With Batman/Superman, this issue sets a markedly different tone thanks to a new art team and story arc. As a reader, it can be challenging to make the adjustment from an artist so stylized and modern like Jae Lae to a more traditional, 90s-style artist like Brett Booth. The horizontal structure of the issue is a fun way to play with panels and provide this story with a larger scope. Unfortunately, the relatively bland storytelling did little to make this transition easier.
Greg Pak brings our heroes back to the present as Batman captures Metallo while Superman stops an asteroid. Metallo vanishes and General Lane informs Clark Kent that John Corben never left his military facility. Who could be behind these evasions? Turns out, Toymaster moves to Gotham (where else?) and accidentally turns his games into reality. Batman tracks down Toymaster and then things get more interesting. I should mention the ongoing tension between Batman and Superman as Batman has difficulty accepting help or his limitations as a non-powered superhero. Pak depicts Batman as more brooding and grumpy than usual throughout the book.
The story becomes confusing and unstructured during the game playing. The rest of the issue feels like a forced meta-commentary on the gaming industry. There is very little character development of Toymaster and his portrayal as a nerdy fanboy genius comes off a bit flat. My biggest gripe with the art is that Hiro Okamura, also known as Toymaster, is supposed to be Japanese. In several panels, Hiro looks as Asian as Bruce Wayne. This may be attributed to Booth’s style itself, as I’m relatively unfamiliar with him as an artist. While I’m not saying this is whitewashing, the illustrations of Hiro are noticeable and distracting.
There are a few bright spots, to be fair. Pak effectively contrasts Batman’s relationship with Superman and his partnership with Nightwing. I particularly like the inclusion of Jimmy Olsen in this issue and his comic relief. Booth creates bold action sequences and brings an awareness about the differences between Batman and Superman to each panel. He draws a sexy Nightwing, I might add.
The Verdict: Pass, unless you really enjoy Toymaster as a villain. There isn’t a lot of new or exciting elements to this story and it has some noticeable flaws. My expectations for this series are much lower going forward. I was really pumped for this title after such a strong first story arc, and hopefully it can recover some of that energy in the next issue.