I mainly disliked the “Secret Six” arc (#1-5) because of the dialogue. It was like the infection just made people talk and behave like edgy teens rather than serious threats. My main concern going into this issue, therefore, was the dialogue. Interestingly enough, it’s not the dialogue that gets me this time. So, buckle up, my fellow comic fans, and let’s have ourselves a look.
The issue is off to a fairly good start. Through the Infected Gordon—aka The Commissioner—a theme is introduced; namely, lying. I like the way that the creative team frames this: Batman and Superman visit Gordon in his cell, where we see Gordon in a straitjacket behind thick glass. He talks about lying and ends his monologue with a laugh, invoking TBWL. After this opening sequence, however, the book falls apart fast—not only is the theme of lying not fully realized, this issue is also, for the most part, a twenty-page advertisement for other books.
For example, Batman and Superman look for Wonder Woman, and find her on an island fighting a bunch of monsters. The scene ultimately leads to Wonder Woman stating that she has to find Donna Troy, and then she exits the issue, and we see an editorial note prompting us to follow Wonder Woman’s adventure elsewhere.
Later in the issue, a scene is forced into the book in which we see Clark in his civilian outfit and Bruce dropping the overly obvious line, “So, even though you revealed your secret identity to the world, you’re still wearing your glasses?” On the surface there isn’t anything wrong with this line, but, really, the line is completely unnecessary. Had no reference been made to Bendis’ Superman and Action Comics, the scene would have simply presented us with Superman and Batman in their civilian clothes, and that’s all that we need. Unless Bendis’ story actually affects this book (which isn’t the case, at least so far), who cares that Superman revealed his identity in another series? If it doesn’t serve the story or the character progression within said story, why include it at all? The answer is, of course, to get people to pick up the Superman comics in which Clark reveals his identity.
On top of that, the closing sequence is setup for the next arc, but it just makes me wish this aftermath stuff was skipped entirely in favor of actually starting the next arc in this very issue. As it stands, the things that happen within this issue don’t matter, because the creative team isn’t telling a full story here. It’s more like a collection of standalone scenes that are vaguely connected by the theme of lying. Even the closing sequence doesn’t exactly provide us with any real information or an arc or a story; it merely teases what will come next.
This issue also references Year of the Villain: Hell Arisen #1, and while I normally don’t mind when an editor’s note states that issue X takes place before issue Y, with so many unresolved scenes and references to other books, it’s easy to see what DC is doing. It’s one thing to create a connected universe—it’s a whole other thing when an issue of a series ends up being just an extended advertisement for said connected universe. This isn’t what I consider an example of good story-telling. In fact, there’s barely a story here.
The artwork—courtesy of Marquez (pencils/inks) and Sanchez (colors)—is pretty good, although some of the splash pages are crowded with too many panels, which interrupts the flow of the story. Other than that, the page layouts are mostly clear, the action is bombastic and fun, and Wonder Woman looks elegant and powerful—in and out of battle. What I also like is how the artists are able to blend Batman and Superman’s worlds even when the characters aren’t together in the same place. For example, there is a great splash page where we see both heroes side by side, but we see Gotham and Superman’s location in the background, and in the foreground we see a fallen foe—the left side of his body is Batman’s opponent and the right side is Superman’s. These two opponents are not actually merged in the story; this is just a representation of how Batman and Superman’s worlds are different, and yet also rather similar in that they are both heroes fighting for justice.
- You like seeing Wonder Woman fight things, no matter what those things are.
- You want to see how the artists visually blend Batman and Superman’s worlds—it’s pretty cool.
Overall: This is an oversized ad for other books, but the art is pretty good. Seriously, though, I recommend not buying this. If you’re still interested in this title and can live without #6 among the other numbers, I’d wait for the next arc. Now that all this Secret Six and Infected stuff is behind us, we can finally move on to something new, and I’m crossing my fingers that the creative team will be able to craft something good now that their issues aren’t required to tie into a big event anymore. Only time will tell, though, because so far I’m not impressed.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with an advance copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.