So, the original plan for this week’s review was to be that of Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order, however I only just started playing the game earlier this week and haven’t progressed that much to give my thoughts on it. And in its place, I’ve decided to do a lot of reshuffling to bring this review up earlier.
A bit of backstory before I go into the review itself. Several months after the relaunch into the Rebirth one of the main stories was a Batman related crossover called Dark Metal, in which we were introduced into the Dark Universe and several different representations of Batman with one of the main’s coming out was The Batman Who Laughs, a Batman who had killed the Joker and a toxin that Joker had been working on infects him causing him to go mad and turn into this dark and twisted monstrosity. This then lead to the mini series of The Batman Who Laughs in which he and another alternate Batman target him in his universe, in the process also exposing Batman to the same toxin that created TBWL but it ends with him being imprisoned in The Hall of Justice and then leads into this series.
Lets also talk about the covers as well for both of the issues to start off. Issue one’s cover is okay, but I do think that the layout of the issue is rather off kilter. For instance, I would have had the characters laid out in a different way, first I would have had TBWL in the centre of the cover, instead of being cast off to the side and have Superman and Batman smaller with them in front of TBWL. Issue two on the other hand is something that I like a lot more with King Shazam holding a defeated Batman and Superman in each hand. I wouldn’t change anything about that since that it is a great visual and is something that would have readers interested in picking up seeing what has happened.
The first issue opens with Clark Kent at his desk but is called by Batman that there is a problem in The Watchtower, so he flies up and finds that a massacre has happened with several heroes like Red Tornado, Martian Manhunter and Flash dead and we also see Superman getting weakened by Kryptonite in the air and its revealed that Superman was lured there by The Batman Who Laughs. We then get a Batman narration about the backstory for his darkest mirror and he is saying this atop the GCPD with Gordon and he says that he already knows a lot about TBWL but Batman wasn’t talking to Gordon, he was talking to Superman who was making his way to Gotham and dropping off Killer Croc.
Gordon gets to talking on why Superman is there for and that there has been a kidnapping and the only witness that saw who did the kidnapping saw was Superman, and he was laughing. Batman’s plan is to find where TBWL base is located and Superman assures to Gordon that they’ll find the boy, and when Gordon turns off the light he chuckles, since he is also being slowly turned after the events of The Batman Who Laughs.
Batman then asks Superman a rather important question, does he have a plan on for taking out Batman in case he ever went rouge. Superman says that he doesn’t think like that and they arrive at the location of the base and its located in Crime Alley, right where Bruce’s parents were shot. Superman discovers there is a passage under the street and smashes the ground to get to it. Batman continues to press Superman, trying to see if he is actually infected, but Superman says that he isn’t and they get into a fight with the robots guarding TBWL base, which they manage to dispatch with ease. They find the base and it seems to be deserted but they find a Batarang mould case that turns out to be not only infused with a toxin that TBWL was working on but also that it was infused with Nth Metal. They then find a chess board and Superman moves a piece and a hologram pops up of a large group of heroes, including the Justice League, Titans and Teen Titans. This leads to the speculating who has been corrupted and who they can trust.
But before anymore of that can happen Batman gets attacked by one of TBWL’s Robins and it starts talking to them, telling what had happened and then the reveal. The Robin is Billy Batson: Shazam. He says the words that makes him change and we then see at the end of the issue King Shazam holding Superman and going to stab him with a Nth Metal Batarang and laughing as he does.
Issue two opens up with Gordon talking and walking with somebody through the GCPD Armoury saying how that this place is loaded up with any weapons and tech used by inmates that are imprisoned in Arkham and says that nobody has been able to get past the security, except with the help of the person that he is with, which appears to be TBWL, which does raise a small question for me which I will get back to. Back over at the hidden base King Shazam continues his battle with Batman and Superman in which Shazam tackles Superman into the sky and with the high magical influx it even affects members of the Justice League Dark, which I do think is a pretty cool panel. Superman goes to attack with a heat vision but Shazam turns back into Billy and Superman stops his attack. Superman says that they are going to find a cure to help him, but it turns out that the Nth metal also affects Billy as well as Shazam and he brings the lightning and strikes Superman. Shazam has Superman by the neck and tries to stab him with the Nth Batarang but is thwarted by Batman who is flying a Bat-plane from TBWL, crashing into Shazam and then stabs Shazam with his own Batarang. This causes Shazam to turn back into Billy and he and Batman free fall with Shazam giving Superman an option to save him or Batman with him going with the latter.
Batman passes out during the fall and he wakes up encased in what appears to be a healing capsule in the Fortress of Solitude and he nearly wrecks a Kryptonian robot assistant asking where Shazam is, but a wounded Superman appears and says that Shazam had gotten away. Batman gets annoyed by the fact that Superman let him escape. Superman says that he held back because he still saw Billy Batson. Batman goes off on Superman saying that hard times come when having to deal with new threats even when it seems to come from a unlikely source or a false face, but Superman doesn’t want to hear the lecture and there is a brief pause between the two to let the anger out of the argument. Superman informs Batman that in his time healing, he had used the resources of the JL Network to track for Shazam, but it came up empty, with him believing that Shazam is lying in wait for the next orders.
But Superman did come up with something that he had found a clue during the fight, that the Nth Metal infused Batarangs are crafted to infect specific people and there were six Batarangs made, with two being used to infect Shazam and Gordon (readers only now at this point) and that leads them to try and figure out who the other four targets are. Superman surmises that instead of bringing in people from the Dark Multiverse but corrupting their friends into a dark alternate version of themselves. Batman says that he does have contingencies for every scenario but never thought about a corrupted Batman to do it against. Superman is cautious that TBWL might go after their loved ones, but Batman assures him that it won’t come to it. Superman then comes up with an idea to give TBWL and says that they need to go to the Batcave. Back over with Gordon he arrives at Arkham where he is questioned by another mysterious figure who asks if he knows where Billy is and Gordon says that he is playing the part of a normal teen and asks if the person that helped him before got what he wanted in which he says almost and says that Batman and Superman will do the rest and that they won’t know what will hit them.
The issue ends with Batman and Superman talking at the Hall of Justice saying that they can’t tell anybody their plan since that keeping something like this will cause a lot of distrust in the League. Superman reassures Batman that the security that he is using is top notch and that nobody has been able to break out or in yet. Superman discovers that Batman had kept TBWL under lock and key in the Hall of Justice and Superman starts his plan, of breaking out TBWL and we see an infected Superman with TBWL forming a corrupted World’s Finest.
The first two issues are rather interesting since that it does start off from continuing the story off from a Batman story and flowing it into a larger narrative. I also don’t have any problems about the anything since it is rather easy to get into and this then brings up a small theory that I do have.
Before he got imprisoned by Batman, TBWL already infect four of the five targets. We already know that the first two people that he infected were Shazam and Gordon with the latter being infected during the Batman Who Laughs story, but with the two other mysterious characters that are introduced into issues it leads to TBWL being more forward thinking than we are lead to believe. But then we have out next question: who are these two characters? Going into some slight spoiler territory since I am up to date with the story, the first one is Blue Beetle since that the tech from the Beetle Scarab being corrupted it could quite easily over-powered the security system that Batman would have used for the Armoury and gave access for Gordon to get what he wanted. The second on the other hand I can only think that it could be Donna Troy more than Hawkman, but that one is harder to try and determine since that you only see the person in a brief panel and you only see a leg and a hand leading more of my mind to think that it’s Donna not Hawkman. Nevertheless, I look forward to reading and reviewing the rest of this arc and come back next week as we head back into my longest love of wrestling with my Top Ten favourite wrestlers.
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