I don't know how to even start this review. So I guess that's a good way to start it. Remember Frank Tieri? The man who wrote Murder Machine? One of the first comics I had nothing bad to say about it. Well he's fucking back...kinda. Admittedly, this is the first comic I've ever NOTICED (and I want to stress that part "noticed") the word "plot" when giving people their credit. With that being said Tieri did the "plot" and James Tynion did the "words". Another credit I've personally never seen before. So I'm not quite sure what that means as it pertains to a comic book. I mean I know what a plot is, but I digress. The point I'm attempting to get to is this...this book is so well written that it's not a believable story. And I get it, it's a comic book, its not supposed to be believable. However, I'll explain more late. For now, lets eat!
There is no denying the fact that this book is fucking complex. I mean, maybe I'm still drunk from the other night, however, this book is written from the point of view of a man that has been hurt. And it's beautiful. The Devastator is truly the most human of all the Knights. "I want you to know that I saved them Clark. Lois, Jimmy, ALL of them. The whole damned city." This type of misguided monologue is all throughout this issue and it really speaks to the pain that Devastator experienced on his earth. I mean I said the Drowned was well written. I never gave my review on The Merciless, but trust me. It's a solid one. However, what Tieri and Tynion do here puts GREAT pressure on The Batman Who Laughs. Another thing that goes so right in this issue is The Devastator's battle with Lobo where he says: "on my world you were on of the most fiercely independent and dangerous beings in the universe" which I can only imagine that these are shots at this whole Rebirth thing DC is doing because before this Lobo was a bad ass and so far my understanding is he's not the Lobo we used to know. Honestly all of these writers have done a good job of using this run to tap the shoulders of the DC of old and it's nice. So lets talk the battle!
"I never understood Bruce. The other Leaguers in their quite conversations. They always said that you could beat me, head to head. If we REALLY fought. If neither of us held back. With only a look I split you in half..."
These are the words of a Dark Multiverse Superman. And they had me smiling EAR to EAR. Even now I can't help but grin because it's such a great homage to the fans of both heroes. Such a great reference to the conversation we have about the two of them. And it's almost a decisive answer. That though Batman can't beat Superman on his own, he could if he became something more. So let's be clear. this isn't just a Superman gone rogue story. This isn't just Batman gone bad. This is truly a story of what happens if Batman had to save the world from Superman. NO HOLDS BARRED! It's fucking terrific. What Tieri and (I assume) Tynion do in this book is capture the essence of both Superman and Batman in a way I've never seen before and words can't do it justice. Just as a reminder I hate, with near passion, both these characters. This book issue made me forget that and near gave me a whole new respect for at the least Batman. Granted, this isn't a Batman we'll ever see again, but holy shit if this isn't great. Now that I'm done salivating over the written part of all this. Lets get graphic! The second you open this book, you should know you're in for an amazing ride. You're not only met with a deep substantial monologue. But vibrant colors and strong art. Beautiful balance, powerful lines, Superman trapped. Powering the device that will plunge the world into darkness. Turn the page and you get this gorgeous, no stone left un-turned splash of Lobo v Devastator.
Tony Daniel hit a home run with his lines in this issue and it's pretty solid work. His subtle choice to put red around a panel that Supergirl shows up in is so slight you almost miss it, but this is man that hits the fucking mark EVERY PAGE! This is just another classic case of the art is a story all of its own. And complimented with Morey's colors this is a STRONG issue.
The problem that I have with this issue is that it's so well written. Tieri wants us to feel for this Bruce. For us to be aligned with what he had to do. Which happens almost effortlessly. The problem arises with his motive. When The Batman Who Laughs appears he instinctively attacks. However, then he falls in line. He calls Barbatos "Master", he wants to help bring about destruction to a world he's trying to save. This is of course no fault of Tieri's. I just feel as though all the other Knights are bitter and driven by vengeance. Where as this Batman did his job, twice over. Why would he bow to the likes of Barbatos? He says, talking about Clark: " you fooled them into thinking that you would always be there for them, to save them, to lift them up, to make them better. And that belief is exactly what will drag your entire world to devastation". Yet earlier in the issue, he states if he had acted faster he could have saved everyone on "his world". It just doesn't add up to me. I mean, I know this is a small gripe to have, however, it just tarnishes the amazing story being told here. Based off of this issue. I'd be more inclined to believe that THIS nightmare was being manipulated into evil. That Barbatos was using something against him to make him do his bidding. My point is this. The narrative does such a great job at painting this image of the Bruce Wayne/Batman that they want us to know. That once that paint drys you wonder how you got this finished picture. Also what's the purpose of arbitrarily throwing Superboy in a "safe room" so strong that not even Superman could smash!? Because if this was an attempt to make me feel bad for Lois, it failed. It actually made me more irritated with her. That would probably be the one thing handled poorly in this book. I would have rathered them not even put Superboy in this issue. Also with everything going on. What was he just doing at home anyway? Again, this book just has too many strong moments to have such a blantant attempt to tug our sympathy strings. You had us at "I should have seen it from the beginning, Clark" Tieri. You could have just as easily stuck with that.
Ummmmm....all of it. Superman, Batman, Lois. YES! Metropolis transforming into versions of Doomsday. The Superman v Batman battle. The trash talk. You just don't know how good writing can be until it's written. This is easily the best Comic Book the week of it's release and for sure dethrones The Drowned as the best of the one offs. I mean just look at it! I could go on and on about all of the moments that made me go #DAFUQ!? However, I'd give away the whole issue.
The fact is! This is one of those books you pick up if you're a fan of literature, PERIOD! There are so many complex subtleties, they're almost like Easter eggs when you find them. If you want to go on a wild ride of art and words. Get this issue. If you want to be entertained and have your DC Metal universe expanded. GET THIS ISSUE. And frankly, enough said!