It’s the last issue of this series, and talk about going out with a bang! After the massively enjoyable serial that recently ended, writer Gene Luen Yang scripts a one-issue wonder to further remind us just what a great writer he is.
This is a high concept issue, one which begins with bad guy Calendar Man counting the days until he’s free to bedevil Batman once more. He’s delighted, but the smile is wiped off his face when Joker gas replaces it with a rather more morbid one. Turns out it’s A-Day in Gotham City, the day Arkham Asylum is attacked by the Clown Prince of Crime, and Calendar Man has joined the Choir Eternal.
Well, not quite. He’s brought back to life instantly by that menace from the Fifth Dimension, Mr Mxyzptlk. Believing Calendar Man, with his love of little boxes, is the only person who can appreciate a secret he has, Mxy gives Julian Gregory Day a gift.
And that’s the door open for a remarkable issue, as Calendar Man learns how seeing comic book panels can allow him to manipulate the action to his advantage. As well as having got the secret off his scrawny chest, Mxy’s motivation is the hope that his new pal can just plain annoy Superman… presumably Mxy’s under one of his 90-day curfews.
Yang’s script fizzes with fun, even if some of the action is a little bloodier than I’d like for a Mxy-starring story. The imp – it turns out he hates being called that – is on great form, while Calendar Man has rarely been so much fun. Certainly, he’s rarely had so much fun, finally gaining an advantage over the Caped Crusader. But will he win the day, beating both Batman and Superman?
Buy the book, because as well as a terrific story, you’ll enjoy some of the best art I’ve seen from penciller Paul Pelletier, who’s well capable of the tricks Yang requests. It helps that he’s had plenty of practice producing a classically clean Superman and Batman, while the inks of fellow veteran Keith Champagne add extra lustre.
There’s further magic from colourist Hi-Fi and letterer Saida Temofonte, while penciller Ivan Reis, inker Dani Miki and colourist Sabine Rich add a cracking cover – I especially like that Mxy’s trademark purple is reflected in the logo and cover furniture.
The only query I have about the issue is Mxy’s reference to fixing Calendar Man’s hideous tattoo tonsure… it looks the same throughout. Perhaps it was meant to appear messed up after Joker’s attack, but there was a communications blip and Pelletier never drew same. All theories welcome.
Query aside, I still give Batman/Superman #22 a perfect ten from the point of view of concept, execution and moral. Thanks to everyone involved for an instantly classic issue of a great series.
6 thoughts on “Batman/Superman #22 review”
I didn’t know what Mxy was referring to re: the tattoos either, but went back now and looked. For some reason, the text on Calendar Man’s forehead starts out looking like jumbled lines, not month names (the way they are on the back of his head). I don’t know what his tattoos are supposed to look like. Maybe the idea is he was in a fight and his forehead got scarred?
Anyway, in the panel where Calendar Man is revived and the alarm clock is ringing, the text on his forehead is now clear, and remains that way for the rest of the book. Except, and this makes it unclear: it’s drawn as scribbles in the very next panel (the second panel containing the alarm clock. Maybe the mistake was actually drawing the clear text too soon.
Or. maybe the dialog about fixing the tattoo was added later – to justify, after the fact, why the art was inconsistent. Maybe the forehead tattoos were always supposed to be clear month names, but sometimes Pelletier or Champagne left in placeholder scribbles and never finished them, and it was easier to just add the whispered dialog than to fix the art. The letterer gets it last and I think the lettering is proofread and then fixed in the last step.
I obsess over details but the reality is it’s amazing there aren’t more errors when you consider the challenges of coordinating creative teams to publish monthlies that are, generally (and when there aren’t paper shortages), on time.
Hmm interesting idea. I just took it that where the months were unclear, it was simply because he wasn’t in close-up. Could be, I suppose!
And keep obsessing, I like a detail person!
Everyday I go to a website that shows what ‘holidays’ are made up for the day. I’d rather see a Calendar Man modus operandi where opponents not only have to figure out what day he’ll strike but which one of the many holidays that day are inspiring him.
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That sounds like the greatest Calendar Man story Len Wein never wrote. Write it!
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