Scheduled to arrive in stores: August 28, 2019
Cover date: October 2019
“Who Are The Six? – Part 1”
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Penciller: David Marquez
Inker: David Marquez
Cover: David Marquez
Variant Cover: Leinil Yu
Reviewed by: Keith Samra
Superman joins Batman in investigating a darker version of himself, a refugee from the dark multiverse, the two heroes come together to stop The Batman Who Laughs from infecting their world. They find that they are too late, as they come across Billy Batson who has been… infected!
To be continued…
Story – 5: Spinning out of Dark Nights: Metal and the follow up series, The Batman Who Laughs, we have an on-going series that once again teams up the two flagship heroes of the DCU. When I first heard about the premise of this series, I was a little reluctant, as to how engaging could it really be, if the main focus is a “Joker-ized Batman” wreaking havoc for the World’s Finest? Then I read this issue, and was fully intrigued with where this narrative could go.
DC has long enhanced the mystique of the Batman, as the man with the plan or contingency for almost any scenario, to him being considered an urban legend. So imagine what would happen when you combine him with his greatest enemy. The Batman Who Laughs, to me is essentially the Bizarro\General Zod to Bruce Wayne/Batman. An opponent more than formidable for our Batman, but with the “infected” now at his disposal, Superman will also get a run for his money, as we saw at the conclusion of the issue, with an infected Billy Batson becoming a maniacal Shazam!
It’s good to have a Superman and Batman team up book once again, and unlike the tragic N52 version, here we have a pre-Flashpoint feeling to the title, with both characters acknowledging their past history with one another, and overlooking their differences for the greater good. The shared monologues and parallel panels reminded me of the 2003 Jeph Loeb helmed title. Though Williamson doesn’t seem to rely on this trope too much like Loeb did.
There were a few gems scattered in the issue, and a few silly points also, such as Jimmy Olson getting the “first ever” picture of Batman, and Perry White insisting that Batman is an urban legend, made up to sell papers in Gotham. Superman meeting Commissioner Gordon and Batman atop the Gotham Police Department was also a delight, as Williamson showed the vast differences both heroes have, with Batman disappearing before Gordon has finished his sentence, and Superman staying to tell him that “that’s Batman’s move, not mine”.
I’m excited to see where this title takes both our heroes, and what will come beyond the Batman Who Laugh’s story. All in all, a great first issue, reintroducing us to a Superman and Batman team up post Rebirth.
Art – 5: David Marquez art is simply exceptional, and is a natural fit for the writing. There is a certain moodiness to it, which fits the world of Batman like a glove, yet enough kinetic energy to do Superman justice.
At first I was astonished that it was so similar to Clay Mann’s work, who has also rendered our heroes in the past (Batman, Heroes in Crisis). But then on closer inspection, I realised the magic of Marquez own distinct style. He doesn’t shy from using panels at all, and rather excels at them. Visually the storytelling is smooth and even without reading the words, you can still get the gist of what is going on. I loved the way he uses different perspectives and the body language of the characters to convey the urgency in the story.
As for our lead characters, Marquez gives a sense of humility and earnestness to Superman’s face, while his Batman looks so much like Jim Lee’s version, that it’s uncanny. There is also a small hint of similarity to Frank Quitely in the line work, which I felt gave the book more of a prestige. That said, David Marquez art is one of the highpoints of this book.
Sanchez’s colors are as exceptional as usual, I can’t say enough about his palette and the way he uses it, a perfect marriage with the art, which also sets the tone for many scenes.
Cover Art – 5: Though we have seen this image many times in the past in promotion to this title, the splitting of the image into two different covers has been used in the past, but David Marquez manages to pull you in with this cover. It would make a good screen saver.
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