It seems like just yesterday the Batman Who Laughs was brand new, but his first appearance was way back on July 12, 2017. We’re two years into his existence and he’s now giving Superman and Batman a run for their money in Josh Williamson and David Marquez’s Batman/Superman series. His power is growing as he continues to turn big time superheroes into crazy drones similar to himself. He has Jim Gordon, Hawkman, Shazam, Blue Beetle, and Donna Troy doing his bidding…but who is next? Find out this week!
Per the official DC synopsis:
It’s the conclusion of the first arc in this series as one world dies and another lives! Plus: We discover why Superman and Batman have no memory of this tragic first adventure.
This issue does well to establish what the Batman who Laughs is up to raising the stakes from Batman and Superman attempting to prevent other heroes from being turned to something far bigger. The Fortress of Solitude is hacked, Batman and Superman can barely stay alive while fighting all these turned heroes, and with the new info dropped Williamson has made a bad situation even worse.
One of the strongest elements of this series is how deep down the turned heroes are still themselves. We see that as one hero breaks free for a moment and is frightened by what has become of them. In another we learn from Superman the heroes who have been turned are saying things that are actually their deep beliefs. That stings, considering Hawkman thinks Batman is unnecessary and Donna thinks Superman is a symbol that only gets others hurt. She has a point even if they don’t mean to get others motivated to hurt themselves.
This issue gives Marquez less space to work with a lot more dialogue and exposition getting delivered, but he still amazes with his lines. This is fight comics to the nth degree so expect a lot of cool punching, kicking, and soaring throughout. The Batman Who Laughs’ plan is also rendered quite spectacularly and the incoming threat is, well, threatening! Marquez never loses sight of Superman’s hopefulness or Batman’s almost annoyed determination with great facial expressions throughout. Props must go to the character design of the turned heroes as they all look similar to themselves, but twisted just enough to make them foreboding and scary.
If I were to find a gripe it’s that this is mostly a fight comic with the added nice details above and not much more. It feels a bit decompressed and could use a quicker plot. That said, as a fight comic it delivers on everything you’d expect from the series.
Batman/Superman continues to be a force and possibly the best fight-comic on the stands today. Read this expecting some interesting character wrinkles, all new stakes, and great fight sequences.