This book has the DC market cornered on epic, massive storytelling with nary a hope or prayer in sight as Superman himself rampages across the world, absolutely devastating anyone in his wake, not being held back by his moral code that prevented the full use of his power in the past. Tom Taylor has certainly covered such a Supes in the past, and that experience is clearly allowing him to easily write this fully evil Superman with a kind of ease that is rarely seen. We’ve seen many “what-if” (or is it Elseworld on this side of the Big Two?) Supermen that turned out less-than-virtuous, but this one has a clear purpose and mode of operating that makes him a great, powerful villain. Meanwhile, we get to see more of Red Tornado as she and Batman, along with Jimmy Olsen, Marella and whoever is left from the World Army seek a way to stop Supes in the furthest depths of Arkham Base. I’m especially fond of the brief glimpse we get of Batman’s deference to Marella, implying either that this is a Batman who knows his niceties or that there’s something significant going on there. Either way, it’s a great touch that humanizes the stoic vigilante somewhat. That and his behavior toward who they find in the secret sub-basement of Arkham, ensuring he's not just a carbon copy of the "main" Bats. We also see a pair of characters whose absence has been especially stinging in this title make their reappearances.
Nicola and Trevor Scott get some company on the pencils and inks of this issue from Robson Rocha on pencils and Oclair Albert on inks and everyone is at least passable on this front. The Scotts are amazing, bringing their smooth, beautifully expressive linework to the issue, the kind of stuff that made this book the sleeper hit of last year. The newcomers definitely pick up the torch well, keeping the tone consistent with a good level of detail. Colors by Pete Pantazis across the entire book also don’t hurt in this regard as we get the same bombastic, explosive palette reaching across every page of this title.
The alternate artists are, on their own, good, but the shifts in art don’t seem to have any particular rhyme or reason, and though the styles are similar, they’re noticeable enough to be jarring, even with the same colorist. This isn’t the fault of either team, but the Scotts have been such a part of Earth 2 that ANY other artist looks especially out of place against them.
The writing remains entertainingly epic, but bereft of characterization. We get a few glimpses here and there, but the biting wit and economical character development still aren’t showing up as we get characters who simply are and who simply are reacting rather than characters who have opinions on where things have gone and what’s been happening.
This is still a highly entertaining, excellent book with massive entertainment value. I’m still shaking my head and mouthing obscenities about the Superman reveal, so the ride is still a thrilling one. I’m also still completely in the dark about how exactly this storyline ends, which is always a bracing face full of cold water in mainstream superhero comics. But in a good way! This book remains one of DC’s best, unpredictable but never forced.