Overview: Batman and Superman attempt to stop Shazam, while Gordon plans for his next move.
Synopsis (spoilers ahead): Gordon visits the GCPD Armory – the only place which holds all of Gotham’s villains’ guns, explosives, and poisons – and realizes not even he has access to this building. Thankfully, he has a partner who can help. After retrieving everything he needs, Gordon tells his partner Batman and Superman will not know what has hit them.
Shazam attacks Superman and Batman in the Batman Who Laughs’ cave. Batman throws a Batarang, and Shazam catches it and laughs. He muses that Batman is just some guy in a Halloween costume, but Shazam is as powerful as the gods. He flies off with Superman leaving Batman to find some transport. Fortunately, the Batman Who Laughs created a formidable Batwing.
Superman grabs Shazam by the collar. With his fist raised and his eyes raging red, Superman plans to hold nothing back. Shazam turns back into Billy, and Billy asks for Superman’s help. Just when the Man of Steel’s defenses are down, Billy screams “Shazam”, and his lightning hits Superman, causing Superman’s hold to weaken. Shazam chokes Superman and comments on how the Justice League looks down on Shazam because he is just a boy pretending to be grown up. Shazam readies the infected Batarang, but just before he is able to pierce Superman’s heart, Batman stabs Shazam in the chest. Shazam reverts back to Billy, and both he and Batman are falling to their deaths. Billy quickly dismisses the notion of saving Batman.
Bruce wakes up in a crystal pod. He punches through the crystal and shoves Kelex against the wall, demanding to know where Shazam is. Clark, visibly wounded, tells Bruce that Shazam got away when he was saving Bruce’s life. Bruce exclaims Clark should have pursued Shazam. Clark says he does not need a lecture. He realizes he messed up. He saw the sweet kid instead of the infected super-weapon.
Clark tells Bruce he did retrieve a clue from their fight: the Batarang Shazam carried was made out of Nth metal infused with the serum created by the Batman Who Laughs. But each of the six missing Batarangs was specifically crafted to infect a specific person. If Shazam was infected by one, then there are five missing Batarangs. There are five potential heroes who could become their Dark Multiverse counterparts. The Batman Who Laughs is planning on turning heroes into nightmares. Clark asks if Bruce has a plan, and Bruce admits he does. He has plans on how to stop all of the heroes if/when they become infected. However, his plans are rendered useless since he never planned for a version of himself to corrupt the heroes. They are fighting blind.
Bruce and Clark decide they will have to investigate this themselves. They do not know who is infected, and until then they trust no one. They only have one lead, and it involves Clark going undercover. He goes into the bowels of the Hall of Justice, where Bruce has been keeping the Batman Who Laughs in a containment cell and acts as though he is infected. They must convince the Batman Who Laughs that his plan is still in effect.
Analysis: I love this issue. I love the fight scenes between Superman and Shazam. Although the battle is brief, it is one all of fandom wants to see. Their power sets are similar. Their strength is equal. They are basically the same. They are so similar there was a lawsuit about their similarity. One of their most well-known battles was in the old JLU show. For two similar heroes, it is odd they have not faced off much before.
I am curious about Gordon. At the end of the Batman Who Laughs miniseries, we learned Gordon was infected and is one of the Secret Six. But, what is he doing? And who is the mystery partner? My money is on the Grim Knight. He has shown his resourcefulness and his smarts as he consistently hacks all of Batman’s tech.
The ending is interesting. I forget Clark is an investigative reporter. When I think of reporters, I think of Lois Lane, Iris West, and Cat Grant. However, Clark is a very acclaimed journalist in his own right. Bendis recently put him undercover in Action Comics, and Williamson did it just now. I wish we see more of that side of Clark.
I was worried about Marquez’s art when I saw the previews of this series, but he has clearly won me over. I love the fight scenes between Superman and Shazam.
Final Thoughts: The funniest part of the issue was when Bruce reads Kryptonian and Clark is surprised. He is Batman, of course, he knows Kryptonian.