It’s safe to say the Batman Who Laughs is the biggest new villain to enter the scene in quite some time. He’s scary, has a complex origin, and he looks totally cool. He’s in the main universe plotting away and it appears only Batman and Superman can stop him. We already know who the six victims are, but can Batman and Superman stop him from inflicting too much damage?
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
The Batman Who Laughs’ plot is bigger than either the Caped Crusader or the Man of Steel realized. Following a showdown with the devious killer’s first sentinel, a jacked-up, Dark Multiverse-infected Shazam!, the pair has to figure out who else has been targeted for similar transformations. Their first two guesses: someone very close to Batman and the one hero that would make failure nearly impossible-Superman himself!
Why does this matter?
Josh Williamson and David Marquez are blowing us away in so many ways. This is big action comics with some of the best visuals you’ll see today. What more can you want from two of the biggest heroes teaming up in their own book?
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
The artwork in this book is impressive. There’s a wide-reaching use of space too with one double-page splash and two double-page layouts each of which showcases impressive fighting in a Shazam vs. Batman/Superman showdown. Much of this issue is devoted to that fight scene and Marquez is blowing us away. The placement of panels in one double-page exemplifies the energy of the Bat-Jet rocketing towards Superman and Shazam and the insane choice Batman makes as he jumps through the damn windshield. You also have a great nod to Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns too.
That specific scene leads to one of the coolest lines I’ve ever seen Batman utter when he says, “The Jet was just the delivery method, punk! I’m always the weapon!” I had to read that three times it was so good. I’m digging Williamson’s handling of the voice of both of these characters. You get the sense Superman is patient and kind while Bruce is impatient and uncomfortable in their current losing position.
The use of Jim Gordon is particularly intriguing in this issue. He pops in on the first page and then later once again. He’s drawn in a cold way with his glasses covering his eyes like some kind of robot. Something bad is going on with him and it will likely hurt Batman and Superman more than we can understand. The plotting of the Batman Who Laughs is possibly his greatest strength and its unnerving to know he likely has an edge even when we get to the cliffhanger and know Batman/Superman are attempting to get an edge of their own.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
I was a bit lost with the final scene. The introduction of it comes via captions and then quick cuts from Batman to the Batman Who Laughs. The dialogue being said is shown in bubbles surrounded by yellow lines I assume to convey some kind of digital communication method but it’s unclear. By the end of the issue it’s understood, but it could have been a bit more obvious who was talking.
Is it good?
Visually stunning art with a gripping high-stakes story involving two of the greatest heroes of all time…what more could you want?