We’re down to the final three Dark Knights invading our earth, and to say I’m excited is an understatement. Ever since these one-shot origin stories released, I find myself counting the hours before I get the next. We watched the Red Death race to stay a step ahead. Witnessed the Murder Machine bring his father back to end crime. We were reminded to fear the dark and the deep with The Dawnbreaker and The Drowned. Now we have the Batman that represents Wonder Woman, even if he isn’t a part of her.
This Batman comes from Earth -12, where he and Wonder Woman worked to end the terror of Ares, the God of War. During the final battle, after Diana fell, Bruce stole Ares’ helmet which imbues the wearer with Godhood.
This would be the part where I tell you how Batman the Merciless entered an epic battle with Ares. The part where I tell you he went to war and decimated his enemies. The problem is we don’t SEE any of that. We are TOLD what happens by The Merciless.
That is what breaks the book for me. Due to a comic book’s style of visual storytelling, the creative team has the opportunity to show the readers some extraordinary displays. When we have a story where a God is telling you of the amazing feats he’s done without showing said feats, the reader will feel robbed.
Even when we see The Merciless’ attack A.R.G.U.S. Headquarters, he fights through security guards instead of actual Superheroes to show his true strength.
If there is any part of the story that is actually interesting, it would be the Crisis Council. The Crisis Council is a group of leaders from each of the government agencies that help superheroes, such as Supergirl’s D.E.O. and S.H.A.D.E.. But even they lose their appeal after they begin to bicker over what’s right and wrong. They argue instead of sending someone to deal with The Merciless, fighting towards them. Each of the leaders on the council have superheroes to call on, and while they might not stand a chance to a God of War, it would be helpful to have one to scale The Merciless’ strength.
While I could go on about the faults in this story, the art is the only good aspect of the book. Francis Manapul is famous for his pencil work in The Flash comics and his style truly shines out here. The design of The Merciless and the pictures he carves in stone benefit heavily from the style, giving it an Ancient Greek feel.
The subdued color work helps the art really stand out as well. The more vibrant colors are used for lighting, both for rooms and of superpowers. It helps set the tone we’re supposed to feel, such as red danger lights flashing as The Merciless approaches.
While very beautiful to look at, this installment to the Dark Nights Metal saga is the weakest by far. It suffers much from telling the reader things what happened off-panel instead of showing. This leaves the reader desiring for more of a story that they will never get. As this is an origin story, you can skip this one, even if you’ve been following the Dark Nights Metal saga.