DC Takes BATMAN AND SUPERMAN Back to the Days of the Serials

The Caped Crusader and Man of Steel battle some obscure yet familiar foes this March…

Gene Luen Yang is one of comics’ finest writers, a storyteller with uncommon heart. Of his many achievements, the one project that really caught the attention of DC fans the last couple years was Superman Smashes the Klan, his three-part series with Gurihiru that was inspired by the old The Adventures of Superman radio show but which very much resonates today.

Well, Yang has looked deep into the past for inspiration once again – this time for the Superman and Batman serials of the Golden Age.

Tucked into DC’s March solicitations was this little gem — Batman/Superman #16:



Art and cover by IVAN REIS and DANNY MIKI

Variant cover by GREG SMALLWOOD

In the aftermath of Dark Nights: Death Metal, catch a glimpse of brave new worlds within the DC Universe… but what are these strange planets? As we delve into the parallel lives of the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight, we’ll meet new villains, new heroes, alternate realities, and a transdimensional collision that you will need to see to believe! It’s the dastardly debut of a cadre of new villains, including the Spider Lady and her poisonous webs, Dr. Atom, who sports a Kryptonite pendant, and the maniacal machinations of the Unknown Wizard! You’ve never seen Batman and Superman like this before—so buckle up and get ready for the start of a new era courtesy of writer Gene Luen Yang and artist Ivan Reis!

ON SALE 3/23/21

$3.99 US | 32 PAGES | FC | DC

A few thoughts:

— I’ve long wanted to see Greg Smallwood do some Batman, so I dig the variant — a lot. His Superman’s not too shabby either.

— By sheer coincidence, I’ve spent a good part of the last year or so watching all the Batman serials, so seeing Yang dive into this particular pool is especially compelling. It’s also interesting to get a taste of what DC is up to with its Infinite Frontier initiative that kicks off in March — stories told not just in different timelines but in different universes. This could work.

— For those keeping score at home, the Spider Lady is based on the same character in the first Kirk Alyn serial, 1948’s Superman. Dr. Atom is a riff on the villain from 1950’s follow-up Atom Man vs. Superman, and the Unknown Wizard is lifted from the Wizard, the baddie from 1949’s Batman and Robin, starring Robert Lowery and Johnny Duncan. None of the three have ever been in the comics, though one of them has in a different guise. (Yang unsurprisingly avoids 1943’s The Batman, which is as much an adventure story as it is 15 chapters of World War II anti-Japanese propaganda that is grossly racist.)

— Yes, the costumes are different, but they’re obviously looking to make this distinct. (And dig the Batmobile!) Between the names of the villains and the outfits, there might be rights issues at play, too. Whatevs. A minor point.


— The Oddball World of 1949’s BATMAN AND ROBIN. Click here.

— The Goofy Charm of 1950’s ATOM MAN VS. SUPERMAN. Click here.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. I’ll still reserve judgement and wait until it comes out to see for sure, but I may have to buy a new DC comic…

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  2. A shame, as the first Batman serial, despite its racism, is vastly superior to the second.

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    • The obvious solution is to reveal Dr Daka was really a racist white American who made himself up as Japanese to make Japanese Americans look bad. That would be an interesting story. Sadly it would not have to be set during WWII. It would still work today.

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      • Roy Thomas had a ‘Prince Daka’ (meant to be the same character) appear in the 1940’s set All-Star Squadron some years back. I also wonder if they remember Atom Man turned out to be Lex Luthor in disguise?

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  3. ‘ None of the three have ever been in the comics, though one of them has in a different guise.’

    Who’s that then?

    This look fun!

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    • The look of “The Wizard” has been radically changed for the comic

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      • Thanks Herb, but I’m asking who has already appeared in the comic ‘in a different guise’, I got that the Unknown Wizard is less like his screen counterpart than the others in the upcoming series.

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        • A version of the Atom Man appeared in World’s Finest #271.

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          • Thank you! I’d forgotten he was in there… of all the Roy Thomas books in the world this one may be the most Roy Thomasiest.

            I really don’t not like the missing ‘m’… ‘Atoman’, bah!

  4. I’ve been fooled by cool covers and gimmicks before. So yeah, I’ll probably check this out.

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  5. After the enormous artistic (and I hope financial) success of “Superman Smashes the Klan,” this could mark the development of a sort of cottage industry for Yang. Let’s hope so!

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  6. I’m guessing the names were changed because DC already has a Wizard and several Atoms.

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