Review: Batman: The Red Death #1

“Ride the Lightning”

the red death cover

Writer: Joshua Williamson 

Artist: Carmine Di Giandomenico 

(Spoilers ahead) 

The Metal event introduced the Dark Multiverse and the evil Batmen, led by Barbatos. Even with two prologue issues, two issues in the main series, and tie-ins starting to publish, we know very little about this new multiverse and evil Batmen from within. Batman: The Red Death #1 offers our first glimpse into the “other side”.

The issue starts out with The Flash of Earth -52 trying to convince the person attacking him to help him save Central City instead. As it turns out, Batman has collected the weapons of The Flash’s rogue gallery and is attacking the scarlet speedster. While it’s always fun to see our favorite heroes duke it out every now and again, I’m not sold as to why Bruce is attacking Barry to steal his speed force. Yes, he gives his reasons—he lost everyone, including his son. I sympathize, but this is Batman. He’s supposed to be better than this.

The Batman of this Earth is just as tricky as most incarnations of Batman we’ve seen—he uses his friendship with The Flash to distract him. Once distracted, Batman injects him with the cryostasis formula that Victor Fries uses to keep his wife, Nora, alive. Although The Flash’s metabolism can burn it away, it gives The Dark Knight enough time to knock him out. This leads to some very gorgeous imagery from Carmine Di Giandomenico of Batman going full psycho. At this point, I’m still uneasy about how Bruce is handling things—I can’t imagine a world, and there’s a plethora to choose from, where a Bruce Wayne, whose parents were murdered and then dedicated his life to justice, would willingly destroy another person, let alone his friend.

THE RED DEATH

Keeping my feelings on how this Earth’s Batman is acting separate, I really love how the concept of this evil Batman, The Red Death, works. The speed force fused Bruce and Barry together—Batman didn’t just steal the speed force from The Flash, he merged with it. Bruce is in control and Barry is acting as the sub-conscious. This issue is definitely for those who think it’s better for Batman to stop his rogues permanently, with zero repercussions since this an Earth of the Dark Multiverse. Nothing in this issue has yet to convince me that Batman would speed through Gotham on a murder spree; it’s just not the Batman way.

WHY

The only thing more confusing than the actions of Earth’s -52 Batman, is why he decides to go to Central City on Earth-0. If Bruce is in control, why isn’t he terrorizing Gotham? What’s his end game with the home of The Flash? While the idea of Batman gaining powers from the speed force and becoming evil seems like a workable idea, I’m just lost as to the why of it all in this this issue.

Problems aside, Joshua Williamson script fits the narrative and delivers on most levels. The choice to have Barry play the conscious of Bruce is the brightest spot in the story, maybe only beaten by how when The Red Death speaks, his voice is both Bruce and Barry—or at least that’s my assumption. Williamson, who currently writes The Flash, was a great choice for this story for the obvious reason it being a Flash centric issue.

Di Giandomenico art is top notch. As a frequent collaborator with Williamson, he knows his way around the speed force. What I appreciate even more is how the art in this issue is nearly seamless with the rest of the Metal event. I never once thought I wasn’t reading and looking at a different story. And the scene where Batman drives into the speed force with The Flash chained to the Batmobile ranks up there with Greg Capullo’s work on Batman #5 from the New 52.

CONCLUSION

This issue suffers from pacing issues—which is no fault to anybody on the creative team. I needed to see Batman’s motivation for wanting to go on a murder spree explained more. I was expecting him to go back in time to prevent something terrible from happening based on his motivation. Pacing issues aside, this felt like a Metal story from beginning to end, especially with the art. I would love to see this story revisited with a second issue, or perhaps as a longer graphic novel. Giving Williamson more pages to work with would have fixed most of the problems with this issue. I’m calling it now though, The Red Death Batman will be a factor in saving the day—Barry Allen is part of him and that means something.

Images courtesy of DC Entertainment

http://www.darkknightnews.com/wp-content/themes/maxblog/assets/img/Batman-Icon.jpg

Kevin M. Gallagher, Jr

Kev is the co-founder of Crude Humor Studios and That's Entertainment. He also writes, produces, and directs their skits, shorts, and web series, while sharing managing editor duties for That's Entertainment. Kev is the host of the podcast, Everything is Awesome and is the co-host of The Zombcast. He is the former host of the podcasts Happy Hour with Steel Tip, Creepcast, Happy Hour, 30 Minute Outsider, The Muff Squad, That's Entertainment, 215th Entertainment Presents: Sounds of Philly, Academic Nerds, and OuaT: The Unofficial Once Upon a Time Podcast. Kev also writes for Dark Knight News and is working on a science fiction series. Most of all, Kev is a dad to two wonderful children.
  • Bradley Hobart

    So, I am in desperate mode right now. Did you notice how Earth-52, the earth that Batman: The Red Death took place on, is one of the 7 unknown earths on the DC Multiverse map? Interesting that there are SEVEN missing earths, SEVEN Justice Leaguers, SEVEN nightmare versions of Batman from the Dark Multiverse, and that the first solo shot about these nightmare versions of Batman based upon Justice Leaguers originated on one of those seven missing earths? What do you think? I’m trying to figure out if I’m the only person who has made that connection so far… lol

    • Mind. Blown.

      I only take pause, because Snyder has reaffirmed that there are 52 known universes in the Multiverse and then there is this Dark Multiverse that is more fluid. Maybe I interrupted it wrong, but I was under the impression that The Red Death took place on Earth -52 (as in, negative 52) and that it was about to be destroyed. But I think you’re on to something with this SEVEN theory!

      • Bradley Hobart

        Unless those 7 missing earths on the DC Multiverse map are missing because somehow they became part of the Dark Multiverse when those nightmare situations happened, or something like that. It’s definitely interesting. There is definitely something there, but I’m not sure exactly what. I am sure that we will find out more in the months to come. It is kind of interesting, though, since, this morning, after I had tweeted at both Snyder and Williamson about this idea, that another DC writer, Shane Davis, followed me out of the blue. Definitely interesting. Absolutely loving DC taking over the comic books industry right now with all of this Rebirth stuff!

        • I like how you think! I’m open to your theory—I see all the dots connecting and can’t wait to see how things shake out. DC is really knocking it out of the park; what a glorious age we live in!

          • Bradley Hobart

            Amen, brotha!!! 😉 lol