Review by Ian Keogh
The appeal of pitting a franchise character such as Batman against Aliens is obvious. Whereas the powers of Green Lantern and Superman enable a relatively even match, though, setting even Batman’s athleticism and reasoning against the skill set of the aliens defies any form of logical survival. Ron Marz’s writing therefore ensures actual confrontation is kept to a minimum, which rather defeats the purpose of the project. It’s quite the logical conundrum.
Amid some melodramatic narrative captions Batman drops into an area of jungle on the Mexican and Guatamalan border to be immediately confronted by a small troop of US soldiers, who’re extremely cavalier in claiming the land of a sovereign nation under their military control. Once some chest puffing testosterone has been settled, and Batman has emphasised he doesn’t kill even predators, everyone plays nice and heads for the giant spacecraft that’s landed near some Mayan ruins.
There’s very little subtlety about the writing. Everything is underlined or signposted, and do we really need yet another sequence of Batman dreaming about his parents being murdered even it does have an alien twist? Much of the writing, therefore, is very much by the numbers.
On the other hand, Bernie Wrightson’s art is excellent and compensates for the lacklustre plot in many respects. He’s obviously taken with the material, and while he’s long moved away from the shadowy style that made his name in the 1970s his tendency to decorative flourish hasn’t been discarded. He revels in the Mayan architecture, makes the setting come alive, and his spreads are awesome, with the final one being his best as a giant alien looms over Batman.
Around two thirds of the way through the book Marz discards any pretence of exploring ethical issues and slips into action thriller mode. It renders the conclusion far more impressive than the remainder, injecting a tension absent from earlier scenes, diminished due to the presence of obvious cannon fodder.
This ranks higher than some other Aliens team-ups due to the art, but falls well below the best of the series without guest stars.