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.