Batman/Superman: Who are the Secret Six? by Joshua Williamson

details
TITLE: Batman/Superman.
Volume: 1.
Story-Arc: Who Are the Secret Six?.
WRITER(S): Joshua Williamson.
Artist(S): David Marquez.
Colourist(s): Alejandro Sanchez.
Letterer: John J. Hill.
PUBLISHER
DC COMICS.

FORMAT: HARDCOVER.
RELEASE DATE: March 31st, 2020.
PAGES: 160.
GENRE(S): COMICS, SCIENCE-FICTION.
ISBN13: 9781401299453.

MY OVERALL RATING: ★★★☆☆.

thoughts

The Dark Nights: Metal event changed the DC universe forever by introducing the dark multiverse. All it took was a mystery too important for Batman to ignore to trigger a chain of events that could never be undone. While the world is still recuperating from this new reality and dealing with various other new threats slipping into their world from unknown parts of these multiverses, there remains one villain from this dark multiverse that continues to live in their world: The Batman Who Laughs. Being an alternate Batman who killed the Joker and was exposed to a devastating toxin that fused both entities together, the world was not ready for a psychopathic mastermind with no regard for human life. In writer Joshua Williamson’s hands now lies a brand-new series where two of the greatest heroes of all time join forces to stop an evil plot that will put some of their dearest allies in danger.

What is Batman/Superman: Who Are the Secret Six? about? Following up on the events that took place in The Batman Who Laughs, this story sends Batman and Superman looking into the sudden appearance of a mutated Joker virus. With the Batman Who Laughs having wreaked havoc on the DC universe ever since he surged out of the dark multiverse, the safety of the world has never been this much of a fragile concept. Despite knowing what this new virus could do, their hunt leaves them wondering who might be the next target and when will it happen. It’s up to the World’s Finest duo to figure this out before the maniacal plans of the Batman Who Laughs cause any more trouble than necessary.

He has a plan to save us all, Supes. You’ll understand once you see… Your truth…

– Joshua Williamson

I think a villain with a name like “Batman Who Laughs” should never have their name said out loud during dialogues. It’s near impossible to take it seriously, even if he remains one of writer Scott Snyder’s creations that will have you quaking in your boots at the mere thought of him. It’s also a bit difficult for this series to really take off and remain pertinent when the whole narrative is based on this idea that a defeated villain is still able to somehow pull strings and make everyone’s lives so much more complicated from “behind bars”, especially when he continuously anticipates countless yet-to-be-made decisions by Batman and Superman.

At best, this story remains action-packed and relies heavily on the premise that you’ll want to know who are the unlucky six characters who are bound to be infected to ultimately form the Secret Six. Other than the suspense on that matter, there isn’t much more being cleverly developed besides writer Joshua Williamson’s attempt at genuine chemistry between Batman and Superman as well as a quickly skimmed over attempt at introducing regret in these two heroes who thought hiding the truth from other heroes would prevent a disaster.

The main attraction here remains the artwork, penciled by David Marquez and coloured by Alejandro Sanchez. With zero reproaches in terms of consistency, this creative team developed excellent character designs, fantastic transitions, and brilliant action sequences that quickly reminds the reader that this story features beings with extraordinary powers and magical abilities that are beyond the understanding of science. The colouring is also impressive, managing to strangely balance both the vibrant colours of daylight and the flashy hues of classic suits but also the darker shades with an accent on shadows and the eeriness of the night time. It can be argued that this attempt at featuring both tones takes away a certain horror-full atmosphere that could’ve been prioritized throughout this story.

Batman/Superman: Who Are the Secret Six? is an action-packed and entertaining story featuring the Batman Who Laughs’s evil shenanigans and the cost of secrecy.


EXHIBITA
THANK YOU TO PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE CANADA FOR SENDING ME A COPY FOR REVIEW!

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31 comments

  • So, I said “Batman Who Laughs” out loud. what a long name! I actually laughed after saying it because it was so ridiculous. You’d think the creators would have come up with a much more catchy name than that. Personally, I would go with “Jokeman”, since he’s supposed to be a synthesis of the two.
    I wonder if it is possible to make a living by selling comic book names to writers so they don’t have to come up with their own?

    Liked by 2 people

  • Another thoughtful and entertaining review, Lashaan. Nice one! I picked up issue #7 of this title just to try it out. It was a fun story; nothing amazing but action-packed like you said. It involves General Zod, Ra’s al Ghul and the City of Kandor. Nick Derington was the artist on this one. I liked yours and Bookstooge’s comments about “The Batman Who Laughs”🤣 I’m looking forward to Snyder’s new Batmen in the upcoming “Death Metal” event: The Batman Who Sneezes, The Batman Who Burps, and the Batman Who Rocks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m actually scared for the next story-arc in this series, especially with the change in artwork. I hope the story doesn’t spiral out of control though. The whole Zod and Ra’s thing was teased at the end of issue #6 too and sort of came out of nowhere too.

      Hahahahah you both killed me with your comments on his name! 😛 And man… Batman Who Rocks hahahahah that would actually fit the whole “Death Metal” theme too!

      I’m actually not too enthusiastic about Death Metal although I’m a huge fan of Snyder and Capullo. I feel like the whole Metal event should’ve stayed a stand-alone event in itself. After all, we got the whole Snyder Justice League run (still ongoing) as well as this Batman/Superman series. I do hope that they have a good story to tell though!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, me too. I’ll probably wait for the Death Metal trade. Snyder can be abit hit-or-miss for me.

        Lashaan, I’m just curious but do you still buy monthly comics? I live in a small town in Japan and have to order “floppies” from a shop in Tokyo. I miss the days of browsing in a comic shop. But it probably saves me a lot of money!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Definitely waiting on the trade myself. I learned my lesson with events. There are too many useless tie-in issues that are only there as an opportunity to steal more money from you hahaha

          Yes, I do! Over the past years I’ve come to simply focus it on the ongoing Batman and Detective Comics series since he’s my favourite character of all time hahah I do browse my local comic book shop as well when I go there to pick up my reserved floppies. There’s around 5-10 of them spread across my city that are accessible to me and that I like to visit from time to time throughout the year. You never know what you’ll discover after all!

          But man… While I absolutely love the idea of living in Tokyo, I had completely forgotten that there are certain things that are probably a lot harder to find too, like English-written books/comics? It’s nice to know there are specialized shop that can get you what you need though! I imagine their catalog isn’t huge though…

          Liked by 1 person

          • 5-10 comic shops? Oh wow, I’m so jealous! 😏 I used to collect the two main Batman titles, too. Are you enjoying James Tynion’s take on the character so far?

            Another problem with living in Japan is the price of comics. I realize that there are shipping charges, etc., but it’s an even more expensive hobby over here. For example, a $3.99 comic costs me $6. (That includes 10% consumption tax but it’s still very pricey!😮) The recent Catwoman 80th Special works out at $15 instead of $9.99. I’m afraid it’s looking like time to say goodbye to this hobby. I’m going to have to focus on trades and sales on comixology. But that’s enough complaining from me. Thanks for your reply!

            Liked by 1 person

            • It’s decent but not extraordinary. The change in artists is unwarranted though; I was excited for a whole run with Tony S. Daniel… but personally Tynion has never managed to really get a 5 star rating out of me. There’s always something that keeps me from being completely mesmerized by his stories (might be the wordiness that could always use more refining, or maybe just this overall sense of unpolished-ness) 😀

              Oh man, I definitely understand. That definitely kills a hobby for just about anyone (unless we’re billionaires hahah). At least the digital side of that hobby is still pretty do-able! 😮

              Liked by 1 person

  • I liked the art work as shown in the pictures. Only you can successfully review comics… Hmm they are called comics even now, right?🙈🙈

    Liked by 1 person

  • I sure laughed at reading ‘Batman Who Laughs’. That was funny name for villain. What’s that about ‘hiding truth from other hero would prevent a disaster’. I don’t undestand the logic behind it! Plot sounds intriguing, I’m already curious about Secret Six. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahahah, right? It’s hard for anyone who doesn’t know who he is to take him seriously with such a name! And yes, the idea was to keep the whole problem a secret so that they don’t get involved and make things more complicated for them. But that clearly was the Batman Who Laughs’s plan. 😉 Thanks for reading, Yesha! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  • I’m not a big reader of Batman or Superman, so I don’t know a lot of the recent history. There were a couple interesting ideas here, but I wasn’t really sucked in by any of it. I’m glad you mentioned Batman Who Laughs, because that’s what I was doing when I read that, though I’m sure that wasn’t the writers intent. 🙂 I do agree, though, the artwork looks tops notch.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There’s loads that happened between the two and most of the time, at least the best stuff that came out, we get to see how their differences are what makes them the best of friends. It’s nice to see them work together here especially to battle a villain this terrifying. But then… that name… Hahahaha at least fans will surely have a fun time with this one! 😀

      Like

  • Oh well, for all the niceties you write about this comic, Lashaan – and you do it impeccably, as always – I don’t see myself liking it too much. I wasn’t convinced by Batman Who Laughs, mostly because this character just didn’t really come together for me in Metal. As for his name, to me it sounds like Robin (or Alfred) lost his eyesight and now asks Bat about everything he hears – Batman, Who Laughs? 😛

    Liked by 2 people

    • I can definitely understand. I’m still a fan of the design and idea behind it just because it brings into play a “horror” element that can’t ever be “soft” like Joker could be at times. But this Batman Who Laughs doesn’t always manage to gel to me in certain stories. If anything, this one is just fun to go through and if that’s all you’re looking for, then it’s something worth checking out hahah

      Hahahahah I could never really grasp such a name… They could’ve just went with “Evil Batman From Universe X” or something. They instead went with a description of the dude… Batman Who Laughs… Our Batman once laughed too in the Killing Joke yoooo! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  • Great review Lashaan, sorry to hear this didn’t quite work out for you – a shame since I know how big a fan you are of the Metal/Batman Who Laughs stuff. I’d say I enjoyed it a tad more but I do get that the depiction of the Batman Who Laughs as a bit more pantomime here. I’m also not entirely sure the horror element works as well in a Batman/Superman team-up as it does for a solo Batman story.

    But, man, that art by David Marquez – I was over the moon when I heard he was going DC-exclusive and even more elated when he signed on to do Batman/Superman. Alas, I was ultimately disheartened when he only ended up doing this first arc (and only seems to be doing covers for DC titles at the moment – wish he’d join Bendis on Action Comics as they worked well together on Iron Man and Civil War II at Marvel) – the quality have the book has diminished with art that’s okay to meh and the stories haven’t been all that special.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Chris! Yep, I am a fan of what Snyder and Capullo created but I’m starting to think that that whole arc shouldn’t last forever too. I feel like it might get overstretched unnecessarily. You’re right about the horror story WITH Superman. I would’ve been curious to see it happen though but I guess it wasn’t necessarily something that anyone wanted to try.

      I’m completely with you for the artwork. I’m surprised that he hasn’t worked on more projects. It’s astonishing what he was able to showcase here. I was even reading Civil War II while going through this one. You can imagine the dosage I got from his work! I wonder if DC is event reevaluating how they manage these creative teams in the future. I need more consistency in these stories!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Me too mate, me too – you know how I’m a stickler for visual consistency and I always enjoy my comics so much more when that’s maintained…and disappointed when it’s art I’m not keen on (again, John Romita Jr on Action Comics).

        Also, I wonder what goes on with Tony S. Daniel – I like his work a lot, but he seems to announce he’s doing something, i.e. Batman, does 1 or 2 issues and disappears (he was meant to be the regular artist on Tynion’s run)!

        Liked by 1 person

  • I honestly cannot get past “Batman Who Laughs”… someone’s creative juices certainly weren’t flowing. 😀 Also oof at your comment about Williamson’s skimmed delivery of regret for Superman and Batman… I feel like there’s a lot of potential there to explore their dynamics that this book didn’t manage to do. (I’m not a DC expert but their relationship is always so INTERESTING to me haha.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tell me about it hahah The more I see him around, the more I wish he had a different name! 😛

      Absolutely. Their relationship is absolutely unique and it is one where they have similar goals as heroes but different means to reach it. It’s what makes them the bestest of friends too! 😀

      Like

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