Joshua Williamson worked to get to the top of DC Comics' creative team. And with his long run on The Flash still ongoing, the writer is ready to expand his creative footprint on the line with a comic that will pull from all corners of the DCU: Batman/Superman.
The latest team-up book for the world's finest heroes sees the Dark Knight and Man of Steel taking on the inter-dimensional menace known as the Batman Who Laughs. And while this clownish Bruce Wayne is nothing to laugh at, he'll be bringing along some even weirder threats in the form of some "infected" heroes who will similarly give into their worst impulses – starting with Shazam.
The book launches on August 14 as part of DC's Year of the Villain branding, and CBR caught up with Williamson on video at Comic-Con International in San Diego to hear how Batman/Superman delves into the dangerous world of both characters, what the Batman Who Laughs' true motivation is, and how DC newcomer David Marquez's art defines the book.
CBR: Batman/Superman is the latest team-up book from DC. Did you discuss how to order that considering the last big World's Finest-style series from the 2000s was Superman/Batman?
Joshua Williamson: Well, they actually did a Batman/Superman book during the New 52, which was [by] Greg Pak and Jae Lee. And I think we were trying to continue with that one. There was a moment early on when it was going to be Superman/Batman, and it was going to be very Superman centric. But I think we started to switch it around when we realized that The Batman Who Laughs was going to be the underlying villain of it – because he's not the forefront villain, but he's has a presence in the book. Once we knew that was going to be continuing from The Batman Who Laughs series and [Dark Nights:] Metal, then it changed to Batman/Superman – once we knew it was going to be a little bit more of his mythology moving forward.
Even though, it's a lot about Superman. It's a lot about the relationship that Superman and Batman have. You know in the Dark Multiverse – this isn't a spoiler; this happened in Metal – they showed in The Batman Who Laughs special that the Batman Who Laughs killed the Superman of his world, and I think there's a part of him that regrets it. He came over with all these fake Batmen – all these Dark Knights – and they lost. And the Batman Who Laughs is like, "I shouldn't have done that. I should have brought my Superman with me."
He would have made a great weapon.
Exactly! Best tool in his utility belt. That's what he says. He has this thing of like, "I really wish I had a Superman." That's part of what Batman/Superman is about. And we get to play around with other characters because he needs a team. The Batman Who Laughs realizes he needs a team, so he starts building out the infected characters.
The idea of a character "turning evil" is well worn in these kinds of stories, but I get the impression that the characters who are infected in Batman/Superman are played different than "And now I am...EVIL!"
No, it's not like that at all. It's not just, "You're evil." You look at the Batman Who Laughs, and I think people get confused. The Batman Who Laughs is not the Joker. He's Bruce. It's Bruce if Bruce made the decision of...what's one of the rules of Batman? "Batman always wins," right? Well, not really. Not at all costs. But the Batman Who Laughs says, "I'm going to win no matter what. Every dark, every horrible thing I've ever thought of, I'm going to win. And if anybody is above me? Anything I think of as a threat or as danger, I'm going to take out."
Batman would never do that. But he's thought about it. We know he has. We know about the Tower of Babel. We know he's had these thoughts, and that he knows how to take out every single person. He's thought it through, but he'd never do it. The Batman Who Laughs has no impulse control. He says, "I'm going to." He's the apex predator, and he's going to take out anything he sees as a threat. And he's going to use everything as his disposal to do it. That's not evil, necessarily. But it's the idea that he's all the worst possible thoughts Batman has ever had manifested.
So when he goes around and infects these other heroes, that's what happens to them too. Some of the characters have real reasons to be angry in the DCU. They have real things they're pissed off about, but they've kept some of that anger buried, and now it's going to be unleashed. Not to get into spoilers for some of the characters, because you'll see that as we go, but there are some instances where they're not evil. It's just this version of them that is very angry. Now that's going to be unleashed, and they're going to take it out on some people.
The other big part of this series at launch is the role Shazam plays, and with the movie out and people knowing the light-hearted version of that character in the biggest way ever, does that give you some more creative energy to play with him in this context?
Yeah. Originally – to get super behind the scenes on stuff – he was going to be the last character revealed. He was the last infected character we were going to use. And we had all these conversations about who was going to be on that list, and we were always unsure if he was going to make it or not. He was one of the characters we were excited about. We thought he'd be interesting and different. But I think because of that movie and because of people knowing who the character is, there is heat there. There is the idea of "What if we did him first? What if we came right out of the gate with him?"
I was surprised when we started talking about it, but then I realized it could totally work. We could totally tell that story right now and show this alternate, dark version of him right now. It would be surprising for people. You have this kid where it's a 13-year old who suddenly has the powers of gods, and thankfully it's always been Billy Batson – this family-oriented person who has gone through this transformation that Geoff [Johns] has put him through to make him a good person. But what if he was just a brat with powers?
It's been great. And David Marquez has been drawing it -- he came over from Marvel, and is awesome. David Marquez's pages are crazy. Some of the scenes coming up are insane. We haven't shown everything, but there's some stuff from issue #2 that's nutty.
Batman/Superman is crazy crucial. I cannot stress to people how important this book is. I think by the time we get closer to #1 coming out, people will start to see some of the pieces. And then in September/October, you're going to see that this book is crazy crucial to the direction of the DCU next year. It's very important, and it's going to be a massive impact, the stuff we're doing.
For more, including Williamson's spying on Frank Miller and Todd McFarlane, watch the entire video interview!