So far, the Dark Nights one-shots featuring the multiversal Batman have been extraordinarily interesting: We saw how Bruce wanted to harness the Speed Force to be nearly everywhere at once, and we saw how a simple request to save the memory of a loved one turned Bruce into the Murder Machine. In both instances, we have a believable Bruce-centric narrative where the best of intentions led to a dark, dark path, and the art in each instance was sublime.
With the Dark Nights: Dawnbreaker one-shot I was left a bit…underwhelmed. The thought of Batman’s indomitable will powering a Green Lantern ring has always been an incredible notion, as his will is basically Batman’s greatest power. However, in this issue, we see how Bruce Wayne is a bastard right from the seminal moment his life changed forever.
I think writer Sam Humphries makes a fair assessment of what Bruce would have done if given the power to avenge his parents and vent his tidal wave of emotions. However, to an extent I disagree with this: the shock of it all probably would’ve left Bruce in a nearly catatonic state, and a flying alien ring would just freak him out more. Furthermore, his ability – as an emotionally shocked 11-year-old – to overpower a GL ring to commit a murder seems…wrong. It just doesn’t make sense.
If I remember correctly, Bruce didn’t dedicate his life to avenging crime until he was several years older, so I’m not sure a preteen would have the head space to go after all bad guys. More likely, I’m thinking WAAAAAY too much into this; it’s a fucking comic book story.
Ethan van Sciver, for how intertwined he is in Green Lantern mythos, seems like an odd choice for this book, especially when it comes to young Bruce’s anatomy. Van Sciver gives all his heroes the bodies of Greek gods, but in this particular instance, it’s extremely off-putting to see a child with crazy Zac Effron abs.
Another way van Sciver feels like a weird fit is that him drawing Batman, especially on the tail of the successful Tom King-helmed Rebirth, is that it looks like a weird version of reguarl Bat-artist David Finch. I’m fully aware that this is just how van Sciver has always drawn, but here, in Gotham, it looks strange. And the design for Dawnbreaker is just…weird. Like, the Captain Cold glasses seem out of place, as does the clunky metal codpiece.
It’s a shame this one-shot had to follow the other two Dark Nights features; where the other books’ narratives made sense with their progression of a broken Batman, this book follows a kid with the supernatural ability to overpower the strongest weapon in the universe…and who happens to be absolutely shredded with madness. This is an odd fit with the Metal series thus far, and I don’t quite think I’d recommend it to other readers.