Batman: The Merciless #1
By Peter J Tomasi, Francis Manapul, Tom Napolitano, Jay Fabok, and Brad Anderson
DC’s newest comic event, Dark Nights: Metal, has introduced the comic universe to many alternate versions of the caped crusader from the dark multiverse. The details and attention paid to designing each dark Batman is not lost on the readers; each one seems to have a story to tell and this issue explores the story of Batman The Merciless, the Batman with the sick-ass helmet and the Batman and Wonder Woman logos intertwined on his chest. This story from writer Tomasi and artists Manapul, Fabok, and Napolitano is an unexpected shot of a gripping Batman tale that is interwoven with love, loss, and the pursuit of justice that leads to Bruce Wayne wearing the mantle of Ares. This of course leads him to become obsessed and motivated through victory and war. With the Dark Nights: Metal tie-in series so far having more razz ma tazz than story, this book is a glimmer of hope that the overall series will prove to be more than just a one hit wonder.
In this alternate world from the dark multiverse, Ares acquired a helmet that increased his power one hundred times, and Wonder Woman and Batman took him down, at the cost of Diana’s life. To avenge her death, Bruce takes up the helmet and determines to rebuild the world in his own image. Well you know the saying; power corrupts, but absolute power corrupts absolutely. So, it is fair to say Bats goes a little off the deep end feeling the power of Ares coursing through his body. Batman begins to kill his enemies, and then he begins his descent on Mount Olympus when the Batman Who Laughs recruits him to the cause to enter the universe we know and overtake that world. We then find him in present time destroying Langley and absorbing atomic bombs, you know just like Batman who has been corrupted by the power of Ares would.
This book has given hope to the otherwise lackluster series Metal has shown to be, with a lot of hype and not a lot to show. This story really gives a relatable, well written story that brings back the humanity to this series that has seemed to take a dive off the deep end. Writer Tomasi takes this story down a dark path with an inevitable heartbreaking twist that will almost leave you feeling sympathetic for Batman The Merciless. Thus story puts a face to, maybe even a little heart into, the army of Dark Knights that give them some context into this story.
Art from Manapul is also completely on-point throughout this entire book, he gets to show off a full range of art style through using a softer touch in flashbacks and a more aggressive style in the current. The art has urgency, energy, and is full of action from the first page which features a fantastic splash page of Batman holding his lost love Wonder Woman to the very last where we see how corrupt and this Batman the Merciless really is. Manapul knows how to create presence in this book for Batman The Merciless and creates this terrifying, imposing figure in every panel he is in. The colors we get from him as well only accentuate the energy, the power, and the chaos ensuing around him. Even the panels during his takedown of Langley that do not feature him are dynamic. We get hues of blue and red, symbolizing the alarms and lights going off at Langley while they all pray to their respective gods and attempt to make a game plan against their inevitable end.
If you feel like you want to give up on the Dark Knights or Metal, hold on for this issue before you take it off your pull list. This book does just enough to get your reinvestment and interest into this event, and the promise of more tie-in issues that look into the different Bats from the Dark multiverse it might be worth it. If the rest of Metal proves to be disappointing, you won’t regret picking up this book. As a tie-in or a stand alone story, you will put this book down wanting more of the Batman who loved Wonder Woman and put on Ares’ helmet and became obsessed with war and conquering. The only thing you will regret is that this issue doesn’t have more pages.