Metal has just got underway and if you're not caught up, stop reading this and check out the reviews done by Grant. We have long known that the Multiverse is comprised of 52 separate realities which be attributed to the results of the original Crisis of Infinite Earths and beings known as "Monitors" with "Orrery of Worlds." We have glimpsed several of the worlds in the past including Grant Morrison's recent Multiversity in which we have the current placement of those worlds. There are many realities which we know nothing about, "dark" realities where no information seems to leak out. Metal has outlined why that was the case and why Earth-0 (or Prime, if you like) seems to be next on the chomping block, and it's because of the machinations of a being called Barbatos marshaling Batmen from other realities to his dark cause.
This comic book is a snap shot of one of those moments of a Batman (Earth - 52) falling and embracing the darkness.
See, Batman has figured out that only he can save the world, but he can't be everywhere at once... Nobody can. But the closest person to being everywhere at once is the Flash. Bruce asks that Barry gives up his connection to the Speed Force so that Batman may claim it. Barry refuses seeing the potential insanity lurking inside of Batman. Batman then decides to take it by force.
But, in so doing, Batman and The Flash end up merging. Barry's consciousness becomes subservient to Bruce's. But even when the Speed Force, Batman can't save his world from the darkness. Instead he hears the voice of Barbatos, and accepts a new mission... one that will bring him to battle Barry Allen all over again on Earth - 0.
The story ends with Barry seemingly defeated by this interloping Batman who is also a Speedster and Central City beginning to undergo the transformation into a nightmare realm. Who could possibly beat a Batman with all the powers of the Flash and then some?
I like one-shots like these that take a character from large scale event, and hone in on their origin story. We never really get to play on Earth - 52 (maybe we won't ever again now), and it was interesting to see how miserable that Bruce Wayne has become. Joshua Williamson has him loose everyone he has ever cared for. His city is dying. He is a man with nothing left to loose... a man who Carmine Di Giadomencio offers up in gritty detail.
That's where this book shines for me. Some of the panels are just brilliant to look at. Batman using all of the Rogues toys against Barry was amusing. The concept of the Batmobile being turned into a Cosmic Treadmill with Barry strapped to the hood was both fantastical and terrifying.
While this book doesn't really add much to the narrative of Metal, it was still a welcoming distraction to the fact that Scott Snyder's next issue won't be out till October 11th.
Man I hate waiting.
Rating: 7.5/10 Gruesome Teeth Closeups