No, not Batman V Superman—this time they’re teaming up against the Batman Who Laughs. But can they trust each other if the parallel dimension villain plans to infect the Justice League? Eh, probably.
Joshua Williamson has a recognizable name, but his style isn’t quite so recognizable. I’m not an aficionado on his work, namely because when I think generic superhero comic, I think of The Flash. His Image work is decent, but not anything revelatory. I read the first trade of Nailbiter and I don’t remember much. However, on this book, he’s a far better choice than the likes of Scott Snyder and Tom King.
I’ve often bemoaned Snyder and King’s esoteric stylings and how they detract from telling effective and efficient stories. Their work is often laden with self-aware snark and lofty ambitions they can’t fulfill. Yet, Williamson’s managing of tones is deft. He excellently weaves conflict yet trust between the dynamic duo. Although, I doubt Superman would, as Williamson imagines, shrug off danger and say Batman worries too much. Superman embodies hope and positivity, not carelessness. But I digress from my nerd tangent. Understand that this is a nitpick and not a breaking factor by any means.
As I was saying, Batman is grim and Superman is hope, and their qualities beam without blinding us. Their dynamic is reestablished for new readers without feeling too clunky for Wednesday Warriors like myself.
But the Batman Who Laughs…hmmm. Apart from being a ridiculously awkward name like Nth Metal, Batmanium, Gotham Girl or Neo-Joker (all recent atrocities), he’s a pretty lore-heavy threat for a book like this.
I keep imagining some new reader deciding to pick up this T-rated book to see Batman and Superman…only for it to open with Superman stumbling upon a gratuitously disemboweled Justice League before being poisoned to death by a Jokerized Batman. It’s too intense and…metal (sigh). Having confusing lore isn’t the worst problem, but despite The Batman Who Laughs being an already iconic villain—he’s hidden throughout this issue. If he’s going to be your villain, embrace that. It’s not a secret anymore.
And are we really going to do yet another “Joker’s infected ______” story? Is that the best plot we could come up with for Batsy and Supes? Point is: a very violent, lore-specific villain isn’t terrible, but the plot and pacing around it doesn’t make a good case.
David Marquez has a very tight, controlled style. By far the best element of his characters are their faces, his specialty. And he does a bang-up job with our heroes, giving Superman a wide-eyed confidence and Batman hard-boiled creases of concern. On top of that, he throws in the right mixture of shadows to balance the very different characters sharing the same space.
While his wide shots are uber-polished, there are problems with Marquez’s backgrounds. Like, say, Olivier Coipel, he’ll start with an establishing shot then neglect backgrounds for the rest of the scene. Not a tremendous problem, but distracting nonetheless. Unfortunately, his colorists all too often take a generic approach over his admittedly crisp line-work, as does Alejandro Sanchez.
Random, nitpicky note: we open with Clark writing a pretty lame article. First of all, it’s blandly titled: Batman Saves Gotham! Also, why is Metropolis reporting about this? Doesn’t Batman save every day, bro? But worse still is the opening line: Crisis has once again been averted by the last-minute efforts of Gotham’s Caped Crusader – the Batman. That doesn’t tell me anything specific! When you write a news piece, you need to incorporate the inverted pyramid where the most important line is at the top and…and…sorry, was I going off the deep end again? See, I saved the least important stuff for last so the editors can cut it o—