These days, any superhero story that deals with serious, mature, or grim content is likely to be viewed as "too dark" (with Zack Snyder's Batman v Superman often used as the prime example). But stray too far in the lighthearted or fantastical direction, and you run the risk of delivering a superhero movie perfect children, lacking the kind of serious older viewers may actually want to see.
It's an equation neither Marvel, DC, nor any other other franchise has definitively solved. But thanks to the writer of DC's Batman/Superman, we can at least offer a new way to look at the problem. Especially since it's the comic series that has already managed to deliver some truly badass Superman moments... while also corrupting the Man of Steel with evil. Who said being dark can't be fun, too?
Speaking with Williamson during NYCC, the very premise of Batman/Superman seemed like a perfect case of walking the line between "too grim" and "too lighthearted." After all, even the BvS scenes too dark for Zack Snyder are just part of his larger story. But in Batman/Superman, DC's two greatest heroes must watch in horror as their best friends are twisted into evil reflections of themselves. Which, on the surface, would make it hard to believe that the series has also delivered a lot of fun along the way.
Speaking generally, especially with DC's Year of the Villain tearing across the Multiverse, and building towards a future more and more uncertain, Williamson takes the concern to heart. After all, a Superman story may be too dark for one fan, while another sees it as exactly what story the world needs to see told. But if you're looking for someone to shed light on the dilemma, Williamson proves a writer is always the best person to shift your perspective:
So much of what we do now is so dark, and we definitely live in the land of darkness at times. But it can't always be that... There's a lot I could talk about with this, but you know 'the hero is only as good as their villain'? I'm going to ask you this: let's say I give you a flashlight, okay? If you go outside into broad daylight and turn that flashlight on, you know it's on because you turned it on. But you don't need it. You can't see it, right? Where would you turn that flashlight on? You turn it on in the dark. I wanted to show that the best way--to show how bright our heroes are, and how much they shine, how much they are symbols of good and hope--the only way to really see how bright they are is to put them in the darkness. So that's part of what the story is... we're showing the darkness to show you how bright they are.
That's about as intelligent and inspired an analogy as you're likely to find, so while pondering it in the coming weeks, be sure to pick up the next issue of Batman/Superman, arriving on November 20th. Readers can find the full plot synopsis and issue details below:
- BATMAN/SUPERMAN #4
- Release Date: November 20th, 2019
- Written by: Joshua Williamson
- Art by: David Marquez
- Cover Art by: Emanuela Lupacchino
- Even from prison, the Batman Who Laughs is staying two steps ahead of the Caped Crusader and the Man of Steel. His plan to infect heroes and turn them into the Dark Multiverse versions of themselves is starting to build steam, with Shazam and others already succumbing to his evil toxin. Batman and Superman are racing the clock to prevent the other three members of the Secret Six from being poisoned, but they realize they are too late when those three come looking for them instead-one of whom is a lot closer to Superman than expected and itching for a fight!
Batman/Superman #4 will be available at your local comic book shop on November 20th, 2019.