By Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Joshua Williamson, Doug Mahnke, Yanick Paquette, Jorge Jimenez, Jaime Mendoza, Wil Quintana, Nathan Fairbairn, and Alejandro Sanchez
The latest tie-in comic in the DC Comics event “Dark Nights” focuses on Bruce Wayne/Batman. More specifically, what happened when we crossed over into the dark multiverse. He hasn’t been seen since issue two of Metal, so it’s been several comics since readers have seen him. Of course, what is predominantly shown is the psychological journey that he’s been taken on during this time.
It’s been announced that Grant Morrison will be working on stories in the aftermath of this event and co-event architect Scott Snyder has even said that he has been a big influence on this storyline. It’s no more evident how deep Morrison’s influence is on the material than this book. The framework and material feels very reminiscent of his work on Batman. It most notably harkens back to The Return of Bruce Wayne in terms of the content. If it is being directly referenced as to leading to the events of “Dark Nights,” then it totally contradicts the narrative that has been established and is being explored in-depth in this book. Hopefully, this turns out to be an incorrect interpretation, otherwise there are serious problems with this comic and the overall event.
The structure operates similar to what was done in Detective Comics #27 from the New 52. Bruce is shown different stories in different periods/scenarios. It works very well and allows the artists to really showcase their talents and make each vignette very distinguishable, but it doesn’t feel innovative or fresh. The dialogue and narration are strong, but not 100% sharp, meaning that each dialogue box should have instilled some strong emotion, but they didn’t. The artwork actually was the most moving part of the comic. Also, there a few instances of odd language, such as referencing Batman as a “wagon.” It was a poor metaphor in context of the event’s story. Overall, this felt a bit like a rehash of the material presented in the event prologue comics, The Forging and The Casting. Considering that very talented DC writers worked on this, it’s a bit disappointing.
As mentioned previously, the artwork is the most defining and redeeming part of this tie-in. Pencilers Doug Mahnke, Yanick Paquette, and Jorge Jimenez deliver stunning work, in collaboration with inker Jaime Mendoza and colorists Wil Quintana, Nathan Fairbairn, and Alejandro Sanchez. The opening splash page is subtle and simple, yet stunning and deeply impressionable. Mahnke’s pencils along with the inks and colors set the tone and nature of what is to unfold. It instantly draws readers in with an air of unease and suspense. Jimenez’s work is very dynamic and clean. The detail and composition in his panels deliver a fresh shock to the comic. The colors are vibrant and always direct focus to the face. Paquette absolutely has an identifiable and unique style, but it feels like a bit sloppy in some pages here. In comparison, to the other contributors, his work just feels plain. They’re vibrant in terms of color, but it’s just not as clean or precise as some of his past work. For the most part, Batman: Lost is a great showcase of artistic talent.
The past few tie-in books have been weak, but this seems to be the comic that starts turning things around. There was so much talent involved that there was no way it could have been a complete dud. With that said, it is far from a stellar book. One comes to expect a certain level of quality from the creatives contributing to this title and sadly it just wasn’t there. It’s worth picking up for the art alone and, of course, it’s going to be a must buy for those already committed to the event. Just be aware the work is still not quite up to par.