Batman/Superman #1 – Joshua Williamson, Writer; David Marquez, Artist; Alejandro Sanchez, Colorist
Ray – 8.5/10
Corrina: The Commish-Who-Laughs
Ray: The “Team-Up” comic has always been an appealing prospect for DC – after all, you combine the fandoms of two top characters into one book – but it’s also been a puzzle to solve story-wise. While the book stars the top characters, it doesn’t quite “own” either of them because the big events happen in their own book. This new take on Batman/Superman, the third title in the 2000s to bear some version of that name, looks to subvert that problem by grounding the book’s events firmly in the events of the “Year of the Villain” branding. Batman/Superman #1 starts out very effectively with a horror-focused opening that plays to Williamson’s creator-owned strengths, as Superman is called in to help Batman in a crisis in space – only to fall into a horrific trap as we realize that this was never our Batman and Superman we were watching. There’s a great sense of dread here in David Marquez’s art that nicely sets this apart from Williamson’s sunnier, more classically heroic work on Flash.
The real story on the main world begins with Batman and Superman both on the trail of the Batman-Who-Laughs and the remnants of his plot. He’s built his own Batcave, and commissioner Gordon contacts the heroes with a major lead – but as we know from the end of that miniseries, Gordon isn’t what he appears to be. The Batman-Who-Laughs is infiltrating the heroic community and turning heroes into sleeper cells, and that injects a nice note of paranoia into the story. I’m not sure of the relationship between the two heroes here yet – it’s certainly one of trust and respect, but they feel more like the “colleagues” version of the post-Crisis than actual friends as Snyder’s been portraying them. That could just be the stakes here, though. The reveal of the Shazam-Who-Laughs is nicely creepy, but I feel like this would have been a more effective moment if it hadn’t been spoiled in the press first. Overall, this is a strong and creepy first issue that may work better as a Batman Who Laughs comic than a Batman and Superman one.
Corrina: Given I’m one of the world’s biggest Jim Gordon fans, I’m more than a bit leery of his descent into the Commish-Who-Laughs. I’m not convinced DC sees Gordon as essential and his death would have far-reaching reverberations on the Bat-Family, and not good ones. But Gordon’s not been much used since Scott Snyder’s Batman run.
Batman/Superman #1 is a good story, well-told, well-drawn. But I’ve made my point already, many times, about not liking the Batman-Who-Laughs and all the grimness that surrounds him and this miniseries seems to be more of the same, starting off with Billy Batson transformed.
I’m more in the mood for something with a little more hope. Williamson eventually got there with The Flash, so perhaps that will happen at the end of all this. (I can’t imagine Shazam’s transformation will stick, unlike Gordon’s.)
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.