As the two most iconic superheroes in the DC Universe, Batman and Superman really are the World's Finest team. With the Man of Steel's hopeful, positive outlook complementing the Dark Knight's more brooding, coldly pragmatic approach, the duo prove that, despite their differences, they can work together to overcome any threat. From the start of Joshua Williamson and David Marquez's Batman/Superman team-up series, the two heroes find themselves facing one of the most horrific evils they have ever known while the creative team still perfectly captures what makes both protagonists work so well in the dark, creepy inaugural issue.
Spinning out of the events of Scott Snyder and Jock's recent The Batman Who Laughs miniseries, the new series has the two friends investigate a child kidnapping in the heart of Gotham City that may be linked to the grinning, sinister incarnation of Bruce Wayne from the Dark Multiverse. As the two heroes delve into disturbing secrets festering in the darkest corners of the city, they quickly discover that the twisted villain's plans have grown far worse than either of them could have possibly imagined.
Ever since he first started writing regularly for DC Comics at the launch of DC Rebirth in 2016, Williamson has always had a firm grasp on the various, distinct voices within the DC Universe. While he's several written for Superman and Batman before, here he gets to play with them front and center as they team up for one of their most horror-tinged stories yet. Prior to signing with DC, Williamson had been a prolific horror comics writer for Image Comics, and he really draws from that background here more than any of his past DC work, with a disturbingly memorable opening sequence and plenty of twists and turns that create a mounting sense of dread as the World's Finest enter the proverbial lion's den.
At this point, virtually every team-up book between Batman and Superman has internal monologues and external dialogue of the two heroes comparing their contrasting methodologies, backgrounds, and worldviews and this opening issue is no different in that regard. Fortunately, Williamson doesn't make the trope feel tired here; it's not overly heavy-handed or distracting as he keeps the plot moving along steadily. This tried-and-true narrative device is used to particularly to great effect in the opening sequence to help subvert reader expectation and really set the tone for the issue moving forward.
This dark, scary mood is elevated by David Marquez, in his DC Comics debut, along with colorist Alejandro Sanchez. Despite the inciting premise for this first story arc, this all still feels like a superhero book and Marquez's acclaimed work for Marvel Comics translates perfectly to the DCU with timeless, instantly iconic depictions of the Caped Crusader and Last Son of Krypton. But as the suspense heightens, Marquez knows when to dial up the tension, with every shadow potentially concealing its own unhinged threat as the heroes navigate the streets and back alleys of Gotham.
Batman/Superman #1 really showcases the creative team playing to their respective strengths, Williamson's background as an accomplished horror comics writer and Marquez's fan-favorite flair for superhero spectacle. Given the miniseries it spins out of, the horror-oriented approach certainly suits the new series while staying accessible to readers that may have missed The Batman Who Laughs before diving into this issue. And with the stakes set by the issue's end, it becomes clear that Batman/Superman could potentially have far-reaching ramifications for the entire DCU; no one is safe.