By Joshua Williamson, Carmine Di Giandomenico, Ivan Plascencia, and Tom Napolitano
The latest DC event, “Dark Nights: Metal” is in full swing, which means tie-in books! Many readers just shudder at the thought or roll their eyes. Everyone’s aware that it’s a way for publishers to boost sales and say what you will about the main event book, but the one-shots pertaining to the “Dark Batmen” have solid creative teams behind them. The first of these to come out is this title, Batman: The Red Death! Sounds intense, right? This book focuses on the dark multiverse Batman who somehow gains access to the speedforce, therefore having abilities equivalent to the Flash. This is that Bruce Wayne’s second origin story.
The talent tasked with delivering this comic is the primary creative team behind the excellent current run on The Flash, writer Joshua Williamson and artists Carmine Di Giandomenico and Ivan Plascencia. Flat out, this is a stunning issue. Giandomenico and Plascencia are on top of their game here. It’s extremely kinetic and vibrant from page one all the way to the foreboding last panel. Carmine Di Giandomenico was able to fully realize Williamson’s emotional writing while still staying to true to his distinct, rough, yet refined, visual style. It may be a beautiful book, but the themes and content are deathly serious and handled as such. Ivan Plascencia uses red and black hues in the backgrounds to really heighten the dire, decaying situation this particular Earth is in. It also absolutely influences how heavy the impact between this world’s Bruce and Barry interact with each other. Yet, it never pulls focus from the central characters of the story. Their coloring is clean and clear, ensuring the attention is never disconnected. There are several iconic, powerful images that will stay with audiences for some time. One can feel the pain and heartache pulsating from the panels.
Williamson has proven through writing Flash and the mini-event, “The Button”, that he can really craft great moments between Batman and Flash and this comic feels like the best example yet. He shows quintessential Barry and his most admirable qualities, while highlighting Bruce falling from grace and desperate. It’s a fascinating dichotomy that becomes the fulcrum of the narrative and ends in surprisingly intriguing ways. It’s just a strong character-centric story. Readers will understand both sides making it hard to swallow what unfolds, ultimately, making it an emotionally charged book. It was also a wonderful treat to see nods to Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns and possibly some other interpretations of Batman seen in the media throughout the issue.
It’s a very odd feeling having conflicting emotions where one can enjoy a comic, but feel emotionally torn by the events of said book – that’s good storytelling. If this is any indication of how the rest of the one-shots will be, then perhaps the eye rolls will stop and be glued to the page instead. What’s also great about this comic is that one doesn’t necessarily have to know what’s going on in “Dark Nights”, this book can basically be read cold and still be a fantastic read. Check out The Red Death!