Scheduled to arrive in stores: July 28, 2020
Cover date: September 2020
“Atomic” – Part 2
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Penciller: Clayton Henry
Inker: Clayton Henry
Cover: Clayton Henry
Variant Cover: Mick Mayhew
Reviewed by: Keith Samra
We open with a flashback of Superman battling the Ultra-Humanite a few years ago. UH is left severely injured during the battle, leaving him defeated, and thus birthing his hatred toward Superman.
We cut to Batman and Superman in the Batcave, as Batman performs an autopsy on the remains of the Atomic Skull. Superman thinks to himself he could have done more for the Atomic Skull, only for Batman to interrupt his thoughts, and literally telling him he did all he could.
Batman finds a remote detonator that is built by Wayne-Tech, and knows exactly where to find what they are looking for.
Once they get there, they are ambushed by UH’s drones, and one begins to detonate, Superman rushes him up into the atmosphere where no one will get hurt. When he returns, he finds Batman and the other drones all gone.
We end with Batman waking in the UH’s lab, as he discovers that the UH is now going to use him against Superman as one of his bombs.
To be continued…
Story – 5: It’s always a pleasure to read an issue of this book, and as I’ve said many times, it’s the best Superman title on the shelves at the moment. I’ve really grown to love the way Williamson writes him, in saying that, I also really like the way he portrays Batman also. He has the dynamic down for both heroes, which is evident when Batman picks up on Superman’s thoughts in the cave.
Carrying on from last month’s issue, we see Superman’s past interactions with the Ultra-Humanite, and learn why he hates the man of steel so much, even though he has himself to blame for the large part of his current physical condition.
I loved that Williamson chose to show Batman doing some detective work, as he examines Atomic Skull’s remains, and finds that it houses many tech components that help him trace where they came from. Williamson was able to write in the details of where Batman disposes his rubbish from his battles (like the call back to the Bane storyline). As well as getting an insight to the inner workings of his “exploding batarangs”. It’s this sort of level to detail that I absolutely love when a writer is able to seamlessly weave into their narrative that helps with the world building, and gives a sense of realism to the world we escape to when we read these books.
I do have a couple of minor nit-picks, the first being during the opening of the issue, we read “Once upon a time in Metropolis” rather than more appropriately giving us a timeline that is later explained in the following pages. The other being, Williamson trying to pull a” Geoff Johns”, and condense the UH’s entire history into his exposition. I just feel that some of this could have been omitted, as this method doesn’t always work for Johns, and in my opinion, didn’t really work here. However, I will still declare that this is still the better Superman and even Batman book on the shelves.
Lastly, as much as I hate the idea that Clark has gone public with his identity, I did enjoy the way Williamson handled that particular reveal, touching on it ever so slightly and making it a source of contention between our two heroes, with Clark admitting in his thoughts that they haven’t spoken much in the last few weeks.
Art – 5: Clayton Henry is an underrated artist in the industry. His style lends itself really well to Superhero comics, and the amount of expression he can give his characters is amazing.
Right of the bat (no pun intended), as Superman takes on the Ultra-Humanite in the flashback, we see the raw power and emotion Henry is able to put into each panel. Right up to the point, where Superman see’s UH in the aftermath of the explosion, and as a severely injured UH staggers forward and then eventually collapses. There was a nice organic feel to the way each panel illustrated the narrative.
I liked the scenes I n the Batcave also, as we see a cowl-less Batman examine the remains of the Atomic Skull. I have always loved seeing heroes in their relaxed settings, when they have parts of their costumes off, this is something George Perez was great at doing, and I always appreciate other artists doing the same. It always irritated me when some artists drew Batman doing the most ordinary of things, with his entire Batman suit on.
The splash page, featuring the history of the UH was a favourite for this issue, as Henry is able to show us the key moments per se in the UH life in this continuity. I just love the angry Gorilla face that is in the centre. I’d love to have that image on a t-shirt, just so raw and savage.
We see a lot of use of Superman’s using different powers in this issue, Henry has a great way of making Superman look natural in the use of them, without it looking stiff or static. I really loved the sense of urgency as Superman flew back to Gotham after taking UH’s drone/zombie up as he detonated. You see the concern for Bruce that Clark naturally had.
Finally I want to touch on the great design aspects that Henry used, from the look of the decaying zombie/drones to the UH himself, I really love his style. There are times that his depiction of Superman and Batman are a little off putting with the proportions he used. Superman especially looked as if his head were too small for his body, but it’s a minor nit-pick to an otherwise awesomely rendered book.
Still loving the colors by Alejandro Sanchez, he is a favourite colorist of mine currently at DC, as he gives the art depth and vibrancy.
Cover Art – 4: The cover is good, it definitely reflects what’s happening in this arc. I like the back drop of the Daily planet front page of the whole Clark revealing his identity. It keeps this story current, and will also eventually date it for the future.
Variant Cover Art – 5: There is no reason other than the fact that I am a sucker for painted pieces of my favourite heroes. Riccardo Federici has outdone himself with this piece. I love the blue tone to it.
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The art was pretty terrible, from what I’ve seen. Dude gave Superman have a HUGE forehead.