Last week’s installment of the Dark Nights Metal saga fell flat. While looking beautiful, Batman the Merciless’ story was its major downfall. It told the story of this God of War Batman without showing the true devastation of his home earth. This left a poor taste in my mouth and had me worried for the following issues. This week, we get the penultimate Dark Nights: Batman the Devastator. He is a hybrid between the defender of Gotham and the monster that killed the Man of Steel. Now while that sounds insane, the story of how he was created is actually quite straightforward.
The origin of this Batman is located on Earth -1. On this Earth, Superman spread his message of hope and trust with everyone believing him, including Batman. One day, Clark snapped and proceeded to tear apart the world. Batman, who felt betrayed by his friend, made the ultimate sacrifice to take him down once and for all. He engineered the Doomsday Virus on his Earth, transformed himself into the monster and killed Superman in a final battle, sacrificing his humanity. Unfortunately, by the time he used that, the world was essentially dead. This left an opening for The Batman who Laughs to recruit the newly dubbed Devastator for his cause.
Unlike last week’s Dark Nights one-shot, this shows the devastation wrought on the original Earth. You see the brutality of the turned Superman and Batman’s regret in having to go as far as he did, but realizes its necessity. By the time he reaches Earth 0, where all the main DC series take place, The Devastator’s view has changed. He now sees Superman as a lie for peace; that Earthlings must look within to find their true strength.
While I have never been a big fan of the Doomsday Virus plot device, you are reminded how destructive it actually is in the issue. Not even an hour in the city and the virus completely ravages everyone. It continues to create the hopeless setting that the Dark Knights were trying to eliminate when first coming to this world.
If you are a fan of the first volume of Justice League Rebirth, then you are going to love the art of this issue. Tony S. Daniel’s skill is shown off here with the incredible details in every panel. A perfect example of the level of detail Daniel’s skill would be the battle between The Devastator and Earth -1’s Superman. When Bruce transforms, you can see every bump and crater in his skin when he transforms, the details in his kryptonite breath, and the appropriate amount of gore.
The color work of Tomeu Morey complimented Daniel’s art by making the virus look sickening. Add that to making the characters’ skin tones realistic and we have a fantastic book to look at, as well as read.
This issue was a much-needed improvement from The Merciless. The story is investing in the present and the flashback, showing the tragedy and pain The Devastator endured. The art is fantastic, with exemplary pencil work from Daniel and complimentary color from Morey. With the final tie-in being two weeks away, this story should tide you over.