Scheduled to arrive in stores: December 18, 2019
Cover date: February 2020
“Who Are The Six?” – Part 5
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Penciller: David Marquez
Inker: David Marquez
Cover: David Marquez
Variant Cover: Jim Cheung
Reviewed by: Keith Samra
We pick up from last issue, where our heroes are desperately trying to prevent The Batman Who Laughs’ satellite from entering our reality. To make matters worse, Blue Beetle is connected to it, and if removed, he will die.
Meanwhile Superman comes across the dead bodies of the other dimension’s Lois and Jon, he falls to his knees at the sight of them, and is being taunted by the infected members of the six, Superman snaps, and tears through the infected in full-on rage.
Batman manages to pull the scarab from Blue Beetle, and stops the satellite from entering, Superman realizes as he was raging, that TBWL got other members of the infected to break him free from his prison under the Hall of Justice. Both heroes stand in victory, knowing that winning this battle, only set the stakes higher for the upcoming war.
The end… For now.
Story – 5: This book simply gets better and better as each issue is released. It was a surprise that this first arc was coming to an end at 5 issues, rather than 6, but I’m not going to complain, if the story didn’t require it, there was no reason to have a sixth issue… just for padding for the trade.
Commissioner Gordon, Shazam, Hawkman, Katana, Donna Troy and Blue Beetle together would be a powerful team, but having them be infected and pitted against our heroes is great storytelling. And having them be credible threats and not just disposed of is great writing in its own right. Joshua Williamson is far from a lazy writer, and is great at keeping sight of all the pieces he has at play on the board.
By far the best moment was seeing Superman rip through the infected, once he sees the horrors of what TBWL tried to bring to his Earth. The sight of his dead wife and son make Superman angry enough, that he loses sight that the infected are his friends, and he ravages through them, showing them, and us the audience, that he is not just a being of immense power, but also self-control. I really love the way Williamson writes Superman, he gets the character.
Batman has a plan, no surprise there, as they discover that Blue Beetle is connected to the TBWL’s satellite. I will admit, I almost eye-rolled as Batman was able to take the scarab from Jaime, effectively making him regain his senses, and free him from the control of the infected. But what got me the most was the fact that while our heroes took down the satellite, and TBWL’s plan to infect the Earth, the real plan was have TBWL be freed by the infected, while Superman and Batman were preoccupied. So in a sense, they will never truly be able to one up or defeat TBWL, as essentially he also always has a backup plan.
I just thought this was brilliant writing, Williamson is not heavy with the dialogue, or lost in a convoluted plot he’s written up, just a straight up Super Hero comic with high stakes. I just love it. Does the issue and overall story have its problems?… Absolutely it does, but I’m measuring this on the basis of how entertained I was during its read. I don’t need it to be multi layered like Watchmen, I just need to able to read it through, and escape from the norm, which is what the issue and series so far has done for me. So it’s a thumbs up from me, and if you’re on the fence about getting this series, just pick up the trade for this arc, you won’t be sorry.
Art – 5: David Marquez has been a joy to behold in the last five issues. I have literally seen his style mature into the best it can be, and still evolve as each issue comes out. However I do have a little gripe with this fifth instalment of this title, and that is, the art felt a little bit rushed. Not rushed in the sense that it was bad, but rushed in the way that there was an absence of detail that is usually present in Marquez artwork.
In saying that, Marquez still managed to hit some beats that made for some amazing visuals. The first is my absolute favourite page in the entire book, is when Superman comes across the corpses of Lois and Jon in TBWL’s satellite. Seeing his wife and son dead, be it not the ones from his Earth, Marquez gave us a powerful rendition of Superman on his knees, crying. What makes it even more amazing is that the whole image is of Superman from behind, we never see his face, just the back of his head. An amazing shot and artwork I would love to own. This amazing page is followed by Superman getting angry, and going to town on the infected. Now I have heard many times people complain about Superman’s angry face, and the use of the glowing red eyes, and to their credit, they have a point, but here they are utilised in the best of possible way, and the artwork backs up the writing. It’s always great to see Superman cut loose and show the world exactly why “you don’t tug on Superman’s cape”.
Marquez’s Batman is also great to see, and I hadn’t mentioned this previously, but having Batman (and Superman) in a more classic look, really makes the character look more dynamic. Now I do like some versions of an armoured look for him, but the simple black and grey suit just looks so much more powerful than the more movie/gaming inspired suits he had been sporting in recent years. It’s probably why I loved the BvS look for Batman so much, I think Zack Snyder helped bring back this look… If only they would give him his yellow oval insignia once again.
I must mention that the infected versions of the characters still look really great, and is an absolute joy to see Marquez bring them to life and motion on the page.
As always, Alejandro Sanchez’s colors are amazing, his layered palette bring so much depth to the tone and mood of the page and the book in general. In all honesty the art alone is worth the cover price.
Cover Art – 4: I like the regular cover a lot, I love the way Marquez rendered the Secret Six creeping out of the dark, especially Blue Beetle on the ceiling. What I didn’t quite gel with was the way he drew Superman and Batman, they look kind of awkward to be honest.
Variant Cover Art – 4: The Jim Cheung variant really has a heavy Lenil Francis Yu vibe to it. In fact, at first look, I thought that it was a Lenil Yu cover.
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