REVIEW: Batman/Superman #1

Batman/Superman #1 is finally here. A series be it ongoing or limited chronicalling the adventures of Batman and Superman as a team has always felt prestigious to me. Be it ‘Worlds Finest’ by Dave Gibbons and Steve Rude, or the inaugural volume of Superman/Batman from 2003, there is just something so special about this pair teaming up. That feeling is definitely felt with the arrival of this series and is certainly expressed through the covers for issue one.

Interior artist David Marquez has created a gorgeous set of connecting covers, one focusing predominantly on Superman, while the other focuses on Batman. When the two pieces are connected, The Batman Who Laughs takes centre stage at the heart of the piece in very sinister fashion. These covers really set the pace and tone for the series I feel, and I love the pair. This is a set I had to get. I love the artwork on both, the art style is unique and uses a range of styles, which shows the skill set that Marquez has.

Here is the Batman issue:

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I simply adore both covers. Artist David Marquez utilizes very crisp lines and only minor detail when illustrating our heroes, which allows Alejandro Sanchez colours to really pop. Superman looks very powerful and majestic on both pieces. The contrast between the light and darkness which shrouds our beloved heroes is very much on display within both pieces. When the covers become one that contrast is very well balanced yet crucially prominent.

Here is the Superman cover:

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This is one of those landmark issues that has a vast variety of variants, including a blank one. I’m a sucker for a variant cover, and I try to pick as many of them as I can up. Every single one for this issue is stellar! This next one is by Leinil Yu, and it is fantastic and full of action! I love seeing this pair fighting alongside each other, it just looks epic. The detail is phenomenal, from Batman’s torn suit to Superman’s laser eyes, you can just feel the magnitude of it! I love the colours used too, the red glow really shows how powerful Superman’s laser eye vision is!

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As well as this, there are a range of retailer exclusives, which again, are incredible. There are also variants by Francesco Mattina, Warren Louw, Clayton Crain, Ryan Kincaid, Roldofo Migliari and Lucio Parrillo.

I can’t begin to tell you how thrilled I was to hear the news that DC Comics would once again be publishing a Batman/Superman series. The 2003 series known then as Superman/Batman is one of my favourite runs. This is most definitely due to the fact that it featured some of the greatest creators in the industry from writer Jeph Loeb, to artists such as Ed McGuinness, Jason Fabok and the late great Michael Turner.

The Batman/Superman title has always been synonymous with superstar creative teams, and this iteration totally upholds that tradition as Joshua Williamson and David Marquez take the reigns. David Marquez is an artist I have long admired over at Marvel whose art style goes hand in hand with that of a prestige series or event book. David Marquez’s art on titles such as Civil War 2 and The Defenders is just magnificent.

Joshua Williamson is a writer who I am very familiar with thanks to his work on The Flash ongoing series. Williamson is so adept at writing relationships between characters, and is a true virtuoso at getting to the heart of a character and really exploring what makes them tick. The perfect Batman/Superman series in my opinion encompasses both these themes and I have no doubt this is the reason why Joshua Williamson was brought on the writer.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have been highly anticipating this issue for sometime now, however my enthusiasm has been somewhat dampened by the addition of the Batman Who Laughs as the main antagonist. Now that’s not to say I dislike the character, its just that this is a villain deeply entrenched in recent continuity and that can sometimes make unfamiliar readers feel lost, especially if there are lots of references or events that take place that tie into prior material. Well, it has to be said straight off the bat you really don’t need to worry to much about continuity in this issue. Joshua Williamson does a wonderful job of informing the reader about everything they could possibly need to know in a very clear and concise manner early on in the issue.

I have to say, Batman/Superman #1 is fantastic. Its full of mystery as the Batman Who Laughs puts yet another intricate and diabolical plan into motion that will require both Batman and Superman to solve it or should I say survive it. This villain is all about sowing seeds of doubt and twisting the things we love into blackened, ugly things we no longer recognise. This issue features really breathtaking action sequences that sees Batman and Superman taking on opponents in close quarters combat. This action is hard-hitting, and it really showcases how the pair work as a unit and how their varied abilities compliment each other. Artist David Marquez utilizes an array of dynamic panel layouts combined with splash pages to really allow the action to breath in this issue. The splash pages used to to capture the magnitude of power is utterly scintillating.

I absolutely adore seeing Batman and Superman working together to solve the mysteries surrounding the plot of this issue. The pairs back and forth exchanges really help analyse the characters’ psyche, specifically Batman’s cynical nature and Superman’s unwavering belief in others. The light and darkness which surrounds Superman and Batman respectively is a motif that I believe will be touched upon throughout this run, and I love it. This issue has already begun that trend with intricate dialogue between the pair as they deal with a villain who is essentially a broken mirror image of Batman himself. This is my favourite element of the issue as Batman and Superman will no doubt have to face even more twisted takes on familiar faces down the line. Everything surrounding the Batman who laughs is totally horrifying be it his appearance and most certainly his actions.

The dialogue in Batman/Superman #1 is actually pretty perfect for me. The relationship between Superman and Batman feels very lived in and full of shared experiences. I love how their idiosyncrasies really are prominent in this issue especially regarding Batman. These two individuals can definitely be considered friends, even brothers certainly on the battlefield yet Batman consistently keeps his defenses up throughout this issue. This is a perfect representation of the character who has had to stare a broken mirror image of himself for far to long. I can’t wait to see how Superman will deal with this level of horror and self examination if and when the time comes.

As I said earlier, David Marquez art in Batman/Superman #1 is just breathtaking. Batman/Superman #1 is full of high emotion, and finding the courage to battle on in the face of true horror. David Marquez’s facial expressions and body language play a big part in conveying a myriad of emotional responses to the feelings in this issue. Fantastic work from all involved, this issue was a great start up, and really set the scene and tone perfectly. The unfortunate introduction at the end of the issue just sent shivers down my spine, I need to read the next issue… NOW!

Haven’t got your copies of Batman/Superman #1 yet? You can get your copy of the Marquez Batman Cover here (US) and here (UK), the Marquez Superman cover here and the Yu variant here.

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