The Infected stall for time in Batman & Superman #5

As things reach a boiling point, leading to the Hell Arisen mini series, we witness Batman and Superman continue to fight the Infected and stop their satellite from ruining the world.

In an issue filled with action sequences, David Marquez delivers a somewhat cartoonish style with a few of the faces of characters throughout the issue that took me out of the series at times. The biggest moment was when Superman drags Supergirl and Shazaam in a full page spread. During this sequence, Superman has Supergirl by the neck, and her eyes as she struggles to break free, along with her facial expression, all come off as a cartoon. This is a stark difference from Superman’s expression in the scene.

Another cartoon-like moment in the issue was the heavy black outlines of the Infected in the second page. Compared to a more comic book style with Superman and Batman on the ground looking up, the heavy use of black lines to emphasize the dark energies affecting Supergirl and the others, made it feel like two different art styles on the same page. I understand the purpose of emphasizing the Infected and the dark energies inside them, but when you make the outlines so heavy, it makes the overall look less clean and more clunky.

Besides the outlines and some cartoon expressions, the issue did have good pages as well, like Wonder Woman at the end, different families mourning the loss of their loved one’s due to the infection, among other sequences. Marquez’s style at times, while it can feel different and a combination of multiple art styles, he does do solid work for most of the issue. Bringing together strong action sequences, along with the plot elements from Joshua Williamson that bring together the full story arc.

In this story, we get the lead up to the Hell Arisen storyline by ending on the release of Lex Luthor’s true enemy, and what’ll become Lex’s newest team-up to overcome. From the start, Williamson gives us a moment where the two heroes look at a loss, and then rally together to take down Gordon, Supergirl and Shazaam. Having beaten them to some extent, due to the destruction of their satellite, the heroes learn that it was all a ruse and they’ve been tricked. While the heroes watched the satellite do its thing, He Who Laughs escapes from the Hall of Justice to regroup with the Infected. This puts our heroes at a loss, as they fail to find a way to recover from the event. At he end of the issue, we see our heroes look to Wonder Woman as she’ll reprimand the two for letting He Who Laughs escape.

As a written piece, this issue did falter in terms of quality compared to the previous issues. In the previous installments we got the build-up and struggles of the heroes losing each time. In this one we got the same, but the delivery wasn’t as strong. Since the issue spent most of its time focused on fighting and then a reveal and Wonder Woman as she’ll reprimand the two, it felt somewhat disjointed. We got emotional scenes and some good fight scenes and reveals, but at times the dialogue felt average, bordering on less important fluff. In the frst page, we gt dialogue about a farm that has nothing to do with the story, and then it just gets into a fight and the heroes trying to cure the Infected and get through to them, while destroying the satellite. Making the story arc flow to a point where Tynion IV can pick up at for Hell Arisen though, made the whole endeavor feel rushed at times because Williamson is constrained to finish the arc by this issue, so that Hell Arisen can follow it up, and I fear that Justice League might do the same since Hell Arisen will continue after Snyder’s run is done.

While weaker than the previous installments, this is still a strong series at DC and worth picking up when the trade paperback series comes out.

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