Scheduled to arrive in stores: September 25, 2019
Cover date: November 2019
“Who Are The Six?” – Part 2
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Penciller: David Marquez
Inker: David Marquez
Cover: David Marquez
Variant Cover: Jerome Opena
Reviewed by: Keith Samra
Continuing on from the last issue, both Superman and Batman find themselves in a desperate fight against an infected Shazam. Superman manages to stave off Shazam’s attempts at infecting him with the same virus that the Batman Who Laughs used on him, in order to “recruit” Superman into his mad plans. Batman comes to Superman’s rescue when Shazam’s power overwhelms him, only to suffer some major injuries. He wakes up in the Fortress of Solitude, being attended to by Kelex. Superman explains that Shazam got away, and they both concoct a plan to find out what the Batman Who Laughs’ endgame is. Superman is infected on purpose, and goes undercover, breaking the Batman Who Laughs out of the prison under the Hall of Justice.
Story – 4: When we break it down to its essence, other than the fight with the infected Shazam, there is very little else that happens in this issue. Yes, there a few pages of exposition at the end, when the World’s Finest come up with their plan to find BWL’s ultimate plan, but the rest of it really is a slugfest between our guys and Shazam. There really isn’t much mention of the “Six” at all, and we are unsure how these events forward that narrative.
As I mentioned in the review for the first issue, it’s good to have a Batman/Superman book again, and Williamson does give us contrasting viewpoints between the two heroes, however he also makes some unusual decisions in his depictions of them. Firstly how Batman instantly starts destroying Kelex once he wakes in the Fortress. Why smash Kelex, when all you need to do is ask, and secondly, I’d have figured that Kelex would be made of sturdier stuff than just falling apart the way he did. Seemed like a big set up for Superman to tell him off and tell him that he doesn’t smash anything in the Bat-cave that way.
The only out of character moment I felt for Superman was falling for Billy Batson’s ruse, when he changed back, because wasn’t it established at the end of issue #1 that Billy was the infected?
The dialogue was a little off at times, which took a couple of reads to get the gist of how it was meant to be read. Gordon explaining the Arkham inmate’s special weapons as “lunatic’s toys” was one, the other was Shazam calling Batman “son,” but after reading that line a couple times, I thought it was rather funny. It was obviously meant to read as though it was hip-hop slang.
Again, not a bad issue, surely not perfect, but really enjoyable nonetheless. I am actually looking forward to seeing how this ark plays out, especially with the cliff-hanger of Superman now infected with the “virus”, and breaking BWL out of his secret prison under the Hall of Justice… Which I can’t believe anyone else knows about or even Mr Miracle can’t escape from… let’s hope it lives up to its hype.
Art – 5: David Marquez’s art simply got better from the first issue. I even pulled up last month’s issue, and compared them both, and this issue was simply a step above. Not that he needed to do much, but it was better in the sense of the scope of the action scenes, and even the one on one scenes/panels with Clark and Bruce both conversing with one another. Their facials and body language were so much more fluid.
What I really want to bring to attention is the exceptional line work on the figures and the cross hatching for shading and detail. I haven’t seen this sort of fine detail since Travis Charest was at his height in the Wildstorm days of the early 2000s. This is more evident in the scenes when Batman flies the BWL Batwing into Shazam as he’s holding Superman, just some truly exceptional artwork there. These are pages of original art I’d love to own.
The other thing that stood out to me, that I didn’t mention last issue, was the redesign of infected Shazam. He has a loin cloth of sorts down the front, under his belt, and his boots and wrist straps have a dark leather feel to them, and I love the black fur on the cape, as though it’s made from animal skin (and no I do not condone wearing fur). This looked really good to me, as it gave him a darker more medieval look. Yes, I know that’s a little cliché, but it was used to its best effect. I was a little sad that Marquez didn’t do the same for Superman, all he got was a Joker-ized grin in his infected state, it’s a small nit-pick, nothing serious to be honest.
Sanchez’s colors are as beautiful as usual, I can’t say enough about his it’s a perfect marriage with the line art. I can’t think of anyone else that could do a better job of setting the tone.
Cover Art – 5: I really like this cover a lot. It’s pretty much a stark image of what we can expect for the issue, and it’s done well enough to peak your curiosity as to what’s happened to Shazam and how has he taken down our heroes. Like the pages inside, I’d love to own the original art for this cover.
Variant Cover Art – 4: A rather more generic cover, that doesn’t really show what Batman and Superman are really doing. Are they chasing BWL or just posing behind him? It’s not a bad composition, but doesn’t really tell a story. The soft color work and is great though.
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