The new Batman/Superman series got off to a strong start with its first issue. Joshua Williamson used all the development that Batman Who Laughs has received and took that to the next level. That next level included turning Shazam into one of Batman Who Laughs Infected characters. Shazam is a massive ally for Batman Who Laughs to have by his side. Shazam already showed his power as he was able to take down both Batman and Superman by the time Batman/Superman #1 came to a close. Who else will turn out to be one of the Infected heroes turned by Batman Who Laughs? Let’s find out with Batman/Superman #2.
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: David Marquez
Colorist: Alejandro Sanchez
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: At the Gotham City Police Department Armory Commissioner Gordon tells someone in the shadows that it is impossible for him to get into a heavily protected room except with “their” help.
Over at The Cave Of The Batman Who Laughs under Gotham City, Batman and Superman battle Shazam Who Laughs. Superman quickly takes Shazam Who Laughs into the sky.
As they battle Shazam Who Laughs destroys part of a building with his lightning. Superman immediately breaks away from the fight to catch all the debris from landing on the innocent people on the streets.
Superman then grabs Shazam Who Laughs and gets ready to blast him with his heat vision. Shazam Who Laughs suddenly transforms back into Billy Batson much to Superman’s shock. Billy acts all innocent but it is all a trick to hit Superman from behind with the lightning bolt that transforms him back into Shazam Who Laughs.
With Superman in his clutches Shazam Who Laughs rants about how he does not want to go back to sharing the limelight with his loser family. He goes on to state he will show the Justice League he is not a joke by turning Superman into one of the Infected with Batman Who Laughs’ special batarangs.
Before that can happen Batman is able to crash into Shazam Who Laughs with his Batplane. Batman then ejects from the Batplane and is able to hurt Shazam Who Laughs with one of his Batarangs. Shazam Who Laughs quickly recovers and nails Batman with a lightning bolt.
With Batman falling from high in the sky Shazam Who Laughs asks Superman if he will keep fighting or save his friend. Superman punches Shazam Who Laughs just as Batman passes out.
Sometime later Bruce Wayne wakes up in a Kryptonian chamber. He immediately breaks himself out of the chamber. Kelex tells Bruce that he has not fully recovered from being hit by Shazam Who Laughs’ lightning. Bruce does not care and demands to know where Shazam Who Laughs is.
An injured Superman appears and tells Bruce that Shazam Who Laughs escaped when he caught Bruce from falling to his death. Bruce asks Superman why he did not continue fighting Shazam Who Laughs. Superman responds by saying that he felt that the real Billy Batson is still inside Shazam Who Laughs, which caused him to hold back during the fight.
Bruce then says they can’t waste anymore time recovering because Shazam Who Laughs could be doing anything right now. Superman angrily says he does not need a lecture when Shazam Who Laughs beat both of them.
After a quiet moment Bruce puts his Batman gear back on while Superman talks about how even with the Justice League’s network he is unable to track down Shazam Who Laughs. He goes on to say that he did find a clue through all his searching. Superman reveals that after analyzing the Batarang that Shazam Who Laughs was trying to use to turn him into an Infected was made using a combination of Nth Metal and a serum created by Batman Who Laughs.
Batman says he can tell by the data Superman on the computer, much to Superman’s shock that Batman can read Kryptonian. Batman and Superman both come to the conclusion that Batman Who Laughs is turning their friends into Infected like Shazam Who Laughs.
Superman is concerned that Batman Who Laughs knows exactly how to hurt them through those they love most. Batman says they need to focus on finding out the other four people that Batman Who Laughs turned into an Infected. Superman realizes that how they will get to Batman Who Laughs is by giving him exactly what he wants. He goes on to say they need to go to the Batcave to start the plan he just came up with.
Sometime later Commissioner Gordon meets up with someone outside Arkham Asylum. They talk about how Batman and Superman will play their roles in the plan they have already set into motion.
At the Hall of Justice while the Justice League, Teen Titans and Titans all gather to go off on their own missions and meetings Batman and Superman agree that they must keep things from all of their friends.
As Batman goes on to watch everyone from his secret security room Superman reveals he knew all about the special prison that Batman built to contain Batman Who Laughs underneath the Hall of Justice. Batman asks Superman if he is up for executing the plan he made. Superman says that this is what they have to do since Shazam Who Laughs mission was to turn him into an Infected. Batman then quietly says “And people think I’m the crazy one.”
At the special prison for Batman Who Laughs, Superman breaks in using his heat vision. Batman Who Laughs smiles and says “It’s so good to see you old friend.” Suddenly Superman appears laughing like the Joker after becoming Superman Who Laughs.
Back in his secret security room Batman hopes Superman can act finish his mission fast. End of issue.
The Good: Joshua Williamson and David Marquez continue to build on the foundation established in the first issue with Batman/Superman #2. This issue showcases the strong potential in the foundation created around Batman Who Laughs’ long-term plan to create his own Justice League with the Secret Six.
What works well for Batman/Superman #2 is that it builds on what the first issue did and doesn’t try to throw even more revelations at the reader. If Williamson and Marquez did that again it would’ve taken away from the impact of Shazam Who Laughs sudden appearance at the end of Batman/Superman #1. By keeping the focus on the battle with Shazam Who Laughs and how that leads into what Batman and Superman do next there was a greater sense of importance given to the first issue’s events.
Williamson does an especially great job writing Shazam Who Laughs as a character who has let go of all inhibitions. There is no filter to Shazam Who Laughs compared to the normal Shazam. Everything that Shazam Who Laughs came across as feelings that Billy Batson has buried deep inside him that just come out because there is nothing to contain them. Specifically calling out his family showed that Shazam Who Laughs is letting everything out.
What comes along with that is a much more wicked Shazam Who Laughs. This version of the character uses every trick in the book to defeat Superman, even tapping into the Man of Steel’s sympathetic nature. Turning into an “innocent” Billy Batson only to nail Superman with a magical lightning bolt was a great way to pay homage to the fight these characters have in the Justice maxi-series. This entire fight showcased how Shazam Who Laughs will be the Superman of Batman Who Laughs’ Secret Six group from this point forward.
The fight with Shazam Who Laughs was made more meaningful by how it forced Superman to act in a way he doesn’t normally. Williamson having Superman admit that he held back during the fight spotlighted how the characters weakness is how he never goes all out during fights. Superman is always holding back his full power. The only time he goes all out is when he fights Darkseid. And since he knows about Billy Batson being Shazam there is a part of Superman that automatically makes him hold back in fear of hurting the kid.
This made the development that it was Superman, not Batman, who came up with the plan to act like one of the Infected an even bigger deal. At this point, Batman understands the stakes while Superman has still been walking on eggshells. But now that Superman has seen how dangerous of a threat Batman Who Laughs is through the Infected Shazam he can’t be so cautious. Having Superman come up with the plan to be an Infected shows that fact.
How Superman keeps up the act of being Superman Who Laughs will be very interesting to see. Williamson showed that it is hard for Superman to hide his good nature throughout these first two issues of Batman/Superman. He will have to tap into a darkness that is not natural for him or else risk Batman Who Laughs figuring everything out.
For his part, Batman continued to display an attitude that he and Superman must do everything necessary to discover what Batman Who Laughs’ plan is and who the Infected are. This lead several great character moments for Batman. The first being Batman revealing to Superman he can understand the Kryptonian language. What made this moment great was how he did not act like it was a big deal even when Superman had such a surprised look on his face. Batman just kept talking like normal and analyzing the information Superman placed on his computer.
The second, and even more interesting revelation, was the fact that Batman has a secret security where he watches over the Justice League, Teen Titans and Titans. This is not a surprise at this point as this is exactly the type of thing that Batman would do with how connected all the superhero teams in the DC Universe are. He still wants to have a sense of control even with Martian Manhunter and Wonder Woman being more established in the position of leadership for the Justice League teams.
What did make this reveal interesting was how it spotlighted how Batman can’t help but keep this type of thing a secret from everyone. One of the biggest downfalls for Batman is always how he does these types of things behind everyone’s back. While Superman was shown to be okay with this secret security room the same won’t likely be the case for the other heroes. With this alongside the secret investigation Batman and Superman are conducting we could see the superhero community turn on both of them for being so secretive.
For Batman Who Laughs role in all this Williamson does a great job continuing to show how in control the villain is right now. Even though he does not show up until the end of the issue, Batman Who Laughs is a consistent presence throughout Batman/Superman #2. There is always a feeling that he is already several steps ahead of Batman and Superman. Even his reaction to Superman breaking him out seems to imply Batman Who Laughs is aware about the Man of Steel’s plan.
That implication is furthered by how Commissioner Gordon is off executing another part of Batman Who Laughs plan with a mysterious character. All of Commissioner Gordon’s dialogue indicates that Batman Who Laughs has predicted everything Batman and Superman would do after fighting Shazam Who Laughs. What that means for the rest of the story and the reveal for the other Infected characters builds on the anticipation of discovering what Batman Who Laughs true endgame is.
David Marquez delivered solid artwork throughout Batman/Superman #2. Marquez does a particularly good job with the action scenes during the first part of this issue. Every blow that Shazam Who Laughs and Superman trade comes across as impactful. The same goes for when Batman crashes the Batplane into Shazam Who Laughs. The impact of all these blows make the damage Batman and Superman are shown to suffer elevate the credibility of Shazam Who Laughs. Marquez also shines when drawing how wicked of a character Batman Who Laughs is. There is a scary vibe whenever the character is on a panel.
The Bad: Though Batman having a secret security room this isn’t that big of a deal. The fact is we’ve seen this type of thing already done with both the Justice League Dark and Teen Titans titles where characters have secret rooms inside their hideouts. For this reveal to have a greater effect Williamson should’ve gone into more of the purpose of the room other than it watching everyone like Brother Eye. There should be more to Batman watching everyone than what it appeared to be. Hopefully that is something that Williamson digs into as more Infected characters are revealed.
Overall: Batman/Superman #2 successfully builds on the foundation created by the first issue. The focus on Shazam Who Laughs puts over the full heel turn the character takes. The turn for Shazam further spotlights how deep into the rabbit hole Batman and Superman have found themselves in when it comes to dealing with Batman Who Laughs. The actions Batman and Superman are forced to take create a lot of intriguing possible directions for this series to take in future issues.
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