Warning: Minor SPOILERS for Batman/Superman #2
The arrival of a brand new Batman/Superman series is cause for celebration, but the reason for their team-up is anything but. Fans have had time to accept that DC heroes are turning evil one by one, now they can witness the living nightmare of fighting the evil Billy Batson... as the Dark Shazam.
You don't unite two-thirds of DC's Trinity for just any threat, but the one cooked up for this Batman/Superman relaunch may test the heroes' spirt more than the strength. It goes without saying after the preview of Billy's infection that fighting a small child won't be easy. But thanks to the breathtaking preview of what artist David Marquez is bringing to the series, it's clear fans are going to be loving every painful, horrible, gorgeous minute of it.
Screen Rant got the chance to speak with Batman/Superman writer Josh Williamson about his upcoming bombshell storylines. And while The Flash watching the Speed Force die is exciting for obvious reasons, it was the reveal of his first Batman/Superman twist that demanded more details. Explaining why the most innocent DC hero had to be the first to turn, Williamson tells us that heartbreak was always the goal when it came to selecting the heroes who would be corrupted by The Batman Who Laughs. And more importantly, this won't be the last time readers are stunned (but if every shocker looks as good as this, that's fine by us).
Speaking with Williamson during San Diego Comic-Con, it was evident that The Batman Who Laughs, his plan to corrupt six DC characters with his evil, and the coming manhunt are all part of a larger story in the DC Universe. Confirming the infected were chosen carefully and--like the Dark Multiverse that spawned the villain who infected them--all have a role to play in DC's future, the most pressing question was obvious. Why did it have to be Billy Batson?
Why Billy? I'll tell you why. One of the things that we stopped and looked at when we started building the list, and started thinking about who The Batman Who Laughs is going to infect, we didn't think like us as fans. We started thinking what would The Batman Who Laughs do? If you want to break apart the DCU, if you want to cause real damage, one of the most powerful parts of the DCU is the families, the relationships. So if you want to damage those relationships, really get in there and cause some chaos, who do you go after? So we started building this list of who you would go after, why would you do it, and then what is the power base, what are the other reasons?
If you go back and look at Underworld Unleashed, Neron went after Billy. That was the endgame. It was this whole thing where you thought he was going after Superman, but he wanted Billy. He wanted Billy because he was the most innocent. The Batman Who Laughs has the same thought. Billy is the hardest to corrupt, he's one of the best of us... So I'm going after him first. That's why.
After taking in the newest preview images from Batman/Superman #2 it's tempting to think that the Dark Shazam was also chosen for his ability to launch this series in impressive fashion. And whether DC admits it or not, a fight in which Batman destroys his Batwing in a head-on collision with Dark Shazam (before being launched clear with Batarang in hand) sells the book better than most scenes could ever hope to. But as gigantic a threat as Dark Shazam may seem, Williamson warns that not only will Batman and Superman's investigation grow in spectacle, but it will reach backwards as part of its mystery. Changing not only the DC Universe in the future, but revealing the past may not be as it seemed, either:
Yeah you're seeing Shazam now... but these infections happened a while ago. So there might be things that are going on in the books right now that are a little weird, and there might be a reason for that. So what's going to happen is eventually, you're going to be able to look back at issues of the comics and say, 'Oh, it was there.' You know? You're seeing this here, but we've been building this for a while... little clues, pieces coming together. Then it builds quickly and escalates quickly.
That description will obviously be latched onto by fans of The Flash displeased with Wally West's accidental Heroes in Crisis murders, and no confirmation nor denial is likely to come before the story demands it. Readers are sure to have their own theories, but Williamson goes on to say that fans may be able to solve this entire riddle before it's officially explained. The mark of a good mystery, well told... which means theorizing as to the infected heroes may prove accurate, while missing the point of the Batman/Superman story entirely.
Setting the mystery aside, the new preview is a special treat for fans eager to see what David Marquez will be bringing to the table. The first glimpse of the series showed Batman and Superman inside The Batman Who Laughs's Batcave, relying on emotion more than action. Now, those fond of Marquez's work in Marvel's latest Civil War II are in for a similar treat, throwing superpowers, magic, and a Joker-esque grin together in one massive fistfight.
I love David. David is a good friend, and he's an amazing artist. I was really glad that we were able to get him from Marvel and bring him over and put him on something really big. Can you imagine? You're coming to DC for the first time and you get to draw Batman and Superman right out of the gate. And not just Batman and Superman, but all these villains, all these heroes... we have so many cameos. You get to draw everything! And also to come in swinging, come in and show something really big.
Those looking to see how the Man of Steel and Dark Knight wind up in battle with a corrupted Billy/Shazam, make sure to read through the rest of DC's Batman/Superman #1 preview on their website. Make sure to check out the official cover art for Batman/Superman #2 below, along with the official details and plot synopsis for the book's first issue:
- BATMAN/SUPERMAN #1
- Written by: Joshua Williamson
- Art by: David Marquez
- Batman cover by: David Marquez
- Superman cover by: David Marquez
- Variant cover by: Leinil Francis Yu
- Up in the sky, in the dark of the night, trust no one—for the Secret Six walk among us. Spinning out of the devastating events of the Batman Who Laughs, Superman and Batman are together once more in an all-new monthly series—and they’re facing a terrifying new threat that could strike from anywhere. The Dark Knight and the Man of Steel must journey into the depths of Gotham City to learn which of their fellow heroes has been transformed into the horrifying horseman of their most dangerous and deranged foe ever. Our heroes will need to fight to survive, but an even more dangerous question lurks in the shadows: Can Superman and Batman even trust each other?
Batman/Superman #1 will be available at your local comic book shop on August 28th, 2019. See them do battle with the evil Shazam in Batman/Superman #2 arriving September 25th, 2019.