Comic Review

REVIEW: Batman/Superman Annual 2021

The Batman/Superman Annual 2021 is finally here and I am so happy that we get to spend additional time in these incredible worlds that Gene Luen Yang and Ivan Reis have created.

But before we get into the issue itself, let’s take a look at the covers. The standard cover is by Bryan Hitch and Alejandro S├ónchez and it’s great! This is one half of the same image, with the other side featuring Batman upside down, which perfectly captures the premise of the issue… them being from completely different worlds and thrown into the opposite one. Superman looks majestic as he soars above Gotham City and the contrast between him and the greyscale buildings of Gotham. The building architecture is fantastic and there is clearly no detail spared.

Batman/Superman Annual 2021
Photo Credit: DC Entertainment

The variant cover is by Francesco Francavilla and it is so striking, again there is another cover connecting to this which shows Batman in the same position, but in Metropolis rather than in Gotham. I love this piece, the colours really add to the effect that it has and it is clear that our hero is in peril. I really love the use of line-work and cross hatching to portray the shadows and shading.

Batman/Superman Annual 2021
Photo Credit: DC Entertainment

Batman/Superman Annual 2021 is essentially split into two stories, one focusing on Superman in The World Of The Knight and the other focusing on Batman in The World Of Tomorrow, as per the events in the previous issue.

We start with Superman in The World Of The Knight as he teams up with Commissioner Jim Gordon to help the city of Metropolis as Warden Luthor transforms it into ‘Lexopolis’. This was a really fun story which saw Luthor take over the minds of several of Batman’s foes, which was great to see. I really enjoyed seeing Luthor make digs at the rogues gallery that he uses in terms of their ways and their origin stories, some of those moments made me laugh.

Not only that but although we see Superman in Batman’s world, he does not lose the traits and ways that make him who he is. I thought this was expertly done as his hope and will for good shines brightly against the gloomy landscape of Gotham City.

My only gripe with this side of the story was the fact that Superman wanted to go back there deep down to see the Lois Lane of that world, AKA Spider-Lady. He really has a connection to her due to the fact that she has also lost her world, but although she too is Lois Lane, it seems odd for him to take such a liking to her knowing that he already has a Lois back in his own world.

The artwork for this half of the issue is by Francesco Francavilla and I love it. Though it is rather choppy in style, I feel that it really adds to the effect of the story, especially when it comes to the chaotic moments where we see Superman heading to the heart of ‘Lexopolis’. His colours also add to that effect, and adds a real Halloween feel to the issue, which I feel goes hand in hand with Batman and Gotham City. The colours were dark and gloomy where needed, yet bright, bold and wonderful in other places, which really separated the feel of these two cities that Superman explores.

With the events that took place in the #21 of the series, I thought we were done with this exploration of these other worlds, but I am so glad that we got to see them fleshed out a little more. I’ve always been a sucker for an else worlds story and this is exactly what these worlds feel like, and it really shows the magnitude of writer Gene Luen Yang’s imagination.

We then move to The World Of Tomorrow in which Batman and Robin find themselves in, as they try to take down Bizarro Two-Face AKA Bruce Wayne in a bit to protect Martha Wayne. This was another excellent story, like I said before it’s great to see these worlds explored once again. Bizarro Two-Face is a perfect combination between the two well-known villains and Batman knows exactly how to follow the logic that he uses in order to gauge where he might be next.

Again there are a few humorous moments in this story, I never tire of seeing people misunderstand Bizarro’s intentions due to his backward language and seeing Batman hunched in a side car of a bike had me in stitches. One thing that did strike me by surprise is the fact that this issue featured one huge reveal which I hope we get to see played out at some point. I really though this annual issue was going to wrap up the Gene Luen Yang’s run on the series, but it seems that it left us a little nugget that I hope we get to explore one day.

The artwork for this half is by Paul Pelletier, with inks by Mick Gray and colours by Hi-Fi and it is fantastic. Though its bold, bright and colourful like Metropolis usually is, it has a real sense of realism when it comes to the backgrounds and especially the facial expressions of the characters, which is expertly done. Pelettier’s artwork in this issue is very similar to that of Ivan Reis who did the line work in the previous issues of this story arc, and that allows it to marry up well in terms recognising characters and locations.

Batman/Superman Annual 2021 is a fantastic round up to an intriguing story-arc that has kept me guessing through its entirety. This is such a fun and unique adventure for Superman, Batman and Robin and I hope to see some of the ideas of this story-arc appear in comics again one day.

Haven’t picked up Batman/Superman Annual 2021 yet? You can get the standard cover by Bryan Hitch here (UK) or here (US).

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