This has been my favorite series, but the things I like the most haven’t been the super-powered brawls. Those are cool to look at for sure, but particularly last issue’s attempts at making Gog more interesting fell flat, as he basically read like a generic evil god, and his motivation was poorly explained. This is the penultimate chapter of “Heir to the Kingdom,” and the creative team still has a lot of stuff to develop before they can deliver a satisfying pay-off to the story. So, let’s jump into this issue and have a look at what the creative team has in store for us this time!
This issue is good, and far better than most other current hero books. Mora and Bonvillain are back in full force, as expected; they’ve been delivering month in, month out on every single one of their collaborations on this project. I love how Mora draws two Supermen and two Batmen in the same issue—and in the same panels—and makes it very easy for us to tell the characters apart, while they still embody the same mannerisms and characteristics. This shows how fantastic Mora’s character designs are and how in tune he is with these characters.
Furthermore, Waid really knows how to get the best out of Mora. He keeps giving him crazy difficult concepts to draw, such as the fight between the Supermen and Gog. I’m not sure how much of it Waid lays out in his script, and how much Mora came up with himself, but the fact that Waid is able to give Mora stuff that inspires him to draw a fight of godly proportions between the Supermen and Gog, from various angles, with many different poses that show perfect anatomy, using inventive page layouts, is very fun to see and completely worth the time and price of admission. Bonvillain’s colors add so much depth and emotion to the panels and further enhance Mora’s already insane art. It’s a colorful, upbeat superhero show.
That said, the writing is a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand, I see things that I’m really excited about. On the other hand, there are also things here that I think are plain boring. I’ll start with my criticisms so I can end the review on a high note.
First of all, Gog is a shallow, one-note villain. His motivation is summed up as him wanting to die in what he considers a glorious battle, so that he can go to Valhalla. That could work in a Viking story, sure, but here I find it rather lacking. It doesn’t tell me much about who Gog really is or what really drives him, as this fails to add anything unique to Gog’s character. Moreover, Gog professes to love humanity so much that he doesn’t want to become the agent of its destruction, but by opening a portal to Apokolips to basically allow Darkseid to come to the Kingdom Come world makes him by definition a destructive agent. It’s fine to write a hypocritical, misguided villain that thinks he is doing the right thing but in reality is only destroying everything, but to make this work the character needs to fleshed out beyond these basic concepts. A superhero story benefits from having an intriguing villain, and Gog is anything but intriguing. I consider this a huge missed opportunity.
I’m also not a big fan of how David’s arc is executed. I won’t go into too many specifics to avoid spoilers, but I’ll say that David undergoes significant development as a character in this issue. However, all it really takes in the end, is someone telling him that he’s loved and that Superman never lies. The story wants us to know that David has been struggling with doubts and fears about where he’s headed, and to be fair, we have seen some of those struggles before. But the way it’s presented in this issue comes off as the creative team rushing through his arc, just to get to that beautiful double page spread where he rushes into battle, after having decided what his next course of action should be. I think “Heir to the Kingdom” could have benefited from being a 6 or even 7-issue storyline so there would have been more room to flesh out both David and Gog. As it stands, these characters have potential, but the execution remains somewhat superficial.
As a final point, I dislike how a single double-fisted super-punch to the kisser is enough to defeat Gog. We’ve seen Gog dominate on the battlefield, beating up heroes left and right. I guess you could try to make the argument that Gog was already weakened throughout the fight, but the way he’s been pummeling the heroes, that doesn’t seem to be the case. It just seems like a cheap victory.
However, where the script shines is in how it shows the Batmen and Supermen working together as team, built on mutual trust and friendship. The four of them really are the World’s Finest, as they work in perfect harmony. I also like how the final battle between the Supermen and Gog is mainly about their motivations—even if Gog’s are underdeveloped—rather than all about their flashy superpowers. The Supermen both have great counter-arguments to Gog’s delusions and prove him wrong.
And to all you Batman fans, if you want a comic where Batman is an actual hero and not a sad way for writers to romanticize trauma and depression by making him a broken man-child, this is it! Waid writes an amazing Batman. He’s super confident, stands his ground, knows what’s right, a master strategist, and key to the final victory. He sees the problem for what it is and presents the solution in the form of great pep talks that motivate his fellow heroes to rise up and save the world. Of course there’s no way that Batman can physically stand against Gog, so he uses his words to inspire, rather than his fists to fight. When the heroes that do have powers take on Gog and get beaten the crap out of them, Batman rushes to their aid, catching them when they fall, making sure that they are okay, and he doesn’t throw a single punch. Forget what’s going on in the main Batman series. That’s not my Batman. This is my Batman.
- You want more mind-blowing superhero art from Mora and Bonvillain.
- Batman and Superman are the best superhero team.
- You can’t pass up on truly heroic Batman moments.
Overall: This comic is absolutely worth it for the art and the great writing for Superman and especially Batman. Unfortunately, Gog and David feel underdeveloped, and so the core conflict leaves something to be desired. That still doesn’t stop me from recommending this comic, though. Even with its flaws, it’s incredibly fun.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.