Batman: The Merciless #1
Written by: Peter Tomasi
Art by: Francis Manapul
The fourth Dark Nights Metal tie-in telling the origins of the evil Batmen features the Batman/Wonder Woman hybrid also known as Batman, The Merciless. In Earth -12 of the Dark Multiverse, Ares crafted a helmet that multiplied his power and started a full scale war across the planet. Batman and Wonder Woman (who were apparently an item) were finally able to stop him after all else was lost, and at the cost of Wonder Woman’s own life. Batman thought he could use Ares’ helmet to continue the fight for justice, but it corrupted him and lead him to rampage across his Earth, turning him into the vicious being we’ve seen in Metal.
I’ve really enjoyed the way Tomasi and Gleason have elevated character relationships in their run on Superman in Rebirth, and Tomasi brings some of that same flavor in this book by elevating the relationship between Batman and Wonder Woman. But this Batman isn’t really a Batman/Wonder Woman hybrid; he’s more of a Batman/Ares hybrid, which may make more sense as to why he’s so corrupt, but I felt it ultimately takes away some of the potency of his relationship with Wonder Woman. Nontheless this story is still great, and I loved the reveal that under the helmet is an older, battle-scarred Batman. This issue also did a good job of tying on the origin with some of the present day stuff going on in Dark Night Metal.
Francis Manapul’s use of environment is especially appealing throughout the book. For example, the setting for most of the origin story is a battlefield littered with bodies, which could be seen as a foreshadowing of what this corrupt Batman will bring about. His character detailing has a more indie-vibe that I really appreciated for this story as well.
Tomasi and Manapul put together yet another great Dark Night Metal tie-in. While I would have like to have seen more of the aftermath of Batman’s corruption, this issue carries the same message the other tie-ins have: these Batmen are twisted, corrupt, and legitimate threatening, but they’re pretty dang cool too.