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Batman: The Merciless #1 (METAL Tie- In)

Batman: The Merciless #1 (METAL Tie- In)

Batman: The Merciless #1

Pros

  • Very well written by Peter Tomasi
  • Interesting look at the lengths people will go to in order to win a war
  • Great emotion displayed throughout the issue
  • Beautiful art and color by Francis Manapul

Cons

  • Why is the solution always "drop a bomb"?

"The Wrath Child"

Writer - Peter J. Tomasi Artist - Francis Manapul Letterer - Tom Napolitano Cover - Jay Fabok and Brad Anderson

     It’s time to meet the next of the “Evil” Batmen, who have invaded the DC Universe in the massive Dark Knights: Metal event happening in DC Comics right now. Previously, we have been introduced to Batman: The Red Death, Batman: The Murder Machine, Batman: The Dawn Breaker and Batman: The Drowned. While they are all nasty pieces of work, I think the motivations of some of these entities are more noble than others. In fact, the backstory of Batman: The Drowned is so tragic, that I actually felt sorry for her. It seems that, beginning this week, the “good” part of the group of “Evil” Batmen is over. It seems to be all pure evil from this point on, with only the worst of the lot left, culminating in the Batman Who Laughs one shot, detailing the story of the leader of the group.

      But, for now, we are dealing with Batman: The Merciless. This one shot proposes an intriguing and terrifying scenario: what would happen if Batman took the power of Ares, became God of War, and used that power to win his war on crime, by killing every criminal? That is exactly what happens in the Dark Multiverse world this being is from.

     Wonder Woman is apparently killed during a massive battle and Batman grabs Ares’ helmet, using it’s power to win that battle. The helmet corrupts Batman, talking him into abandoning his ethical code and becoming a cold-blooded killer. He was storming Olympus when, and if you’ve been reading the other one-shots, you’re almost expecting it, a familiar scene takes place. That’s right, this is where the Batman Who Laughs shows up and tells The Merciless about the end of his world and dangles the world above in front of him like a carrot. To the surprise of no one, the Merciless takes the bait and is headed for Earth-0.

     Meanwhile, on Earth-0, A.R.G.U.S. has been charged with gathering all of Earth’s top Military Intelligence minds: General Lane, Amanda Waller, Mr. Bones, Father Time, Colonel Jonas and Steve Trevor. And, predictably, the solution that General Lane with involves dropping a bomb.

     Unfortunately, the Merciless chooses this moment to make his presence known. While the Merciless is making his way to them, Lane targets their position with his big bomb. This causes a fight to break out in the war room. As the Mercilessa riives in the war room, the bomb is dropped. When the smoke clears, all of the military leaders are praying to the Merciless, who is sitting on a throne. As he holds Steve Trevor in the air with an arm around his throat, he recounts how he killed Wonder Woman on his world when, after recovering from being stunned by Ares, she reached for the helmet on Batman’s head. He says that since Steve fights with mercy and restraint, he will lose and the world will fall to Barbatos.

     This is definitely NOT a Batman to feel sorry for. This is a Batman to fear. He ahs no restraint, no remorse, no moral compass. This is a “win at all costs, take no prisoners Batman, who scares the crap out of me. This is a Batman who took the easy way out, giving up everything that made him who he was. Peter Tomasi does an incredible job of telling this story of the toll war takes on everyone and the lengths people will go to to win it. You can almost here the cold cruelty in the words of the Merciless and the desperation in the voices of Earth-0’s military leaders. It’s a masterful piece of writing about the nature of war and what it does to people.

      Likewise, Francis Manapul does a terrific job with the art chores on this one shot. The figures are beautifully rendered and the colors are amazing. There are some superb dynamic action scenes as well. It’s a very pretty book.

IN THE END: It is clear that the tone is shifting as we get further into the “Evil” Batmen roster. This is a well done story with amazing art, that shows an interesting “what if” scenario.

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