I have said time and time again that going into these Batman one-shots I was only really looking forward to two; THE DAWNBREAKER and THE MERCILESS. The former because I’m arguably one of the biggest Green Lantern fans there is, and that focusing on the “Greatest Lantern of them ALL”, Hal Jordan. And the latter being because I’m a huge lover of almost anything knights, and THE MERCILESS looked right up that particular alley of mine. After reading all of the one-shots thus far, I can say that at least one of the two I was looking forward to was amazing. Unexpectedly THE MURDER MACHINE and THE MERCILESS are the two best tie-ins (if not out right books) apart of DC METAL so far.

I’ve long since said that two of the most talented individuals in DC Comics, and hell, in the comic book industry itself are Peter J. Tomasi (writer) and Francis Manapul (artist). The two always end up giving us absolutely amazing work, and this is absolutely no surprise that the two of them working together is– well, it’s kind of nerd-gasmic.

Probably across the entire board, my favorite thing about these one-shots is the way the writers manage to seamlessly meld the origin story of how these “Dark Universe” Batmen ascended to such darkness.

Art by Francis Manapul

Now, I’m going to be 100% honest with you as I say that I absolutely hate the Batman/Wonder Woman ship. I don’t think the characters go together well on a relationship base, and that the two each have better respective partners they could be with. BUT with that being said, I think they’re “being together” worked very well in this version of the characters.

Peter really conveyed this tragedy to us through the Merciless’ dialogue with himself. You can feel his pain, his sorrow and even, I suppose, embarrassment. I’ve always found reading Tomasi’s work that he has a way of telling extremely compelling and heart wrenching stories with the characters we’ve grown up with. And I think that seeing Wonder Woman’s “death” is what’s supposed to be driving Earth -12 Bruce to do and be who he’s become is quite interesting. It’s just like what the death of his parents had done to him.

Art by Francis Manapul

I’ve often wondered what the death of a significant other– a woman he was in love with, what that would do to Bruce. I’ve always thought that it might be the straw to break the camel’s back and send him on a spiral he wouldn’t be able to come out of, and to see Tomasi play with that here brought a smile to my face.

I’ll say that the thing that set this issue apart from every single METAL issue before it was possibly the most out of left field twist in recent comic history,

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Bruce killed Diana in order to take Ares’ helmet. The helmet was forged by Ares to enhance his power immeasurably, and it took nearly everyone to stop him. Tomasi was able to lead us to believe that Ares killed Diana, and that’s what drove Bruce to donning the helm in order to stop Ares, but became corrupted by its power despite feeling he could control it. It was a beautifully crafted twist that sincerely took me by surprise.

For me, it’ll go down as a top-5. It perfectly cements how awesome of a writer– no, a storyteller that Tomasi is, and literally raises the bar when it comes to METAL.

I honestly wish that we could get a title exploring the whole journey of Earth -12‘s Bruce Wayne before him killing his love, Diana, and then after leading up to when the BATMAN WHO LAUGHS recruits him. I feel like there’s an interesting story there to be had in full length, and that could enhance this issue even more than it already is.

From start to finish, it’s one of the best tie-ins so far. Tomasi absolutely stunned with the story. Manapul knocked this issue out of the park with his amazing art, yet again. I’m sounding like a broken record, but this is truly one of the– no, no, NO, I’m doubling down. I feel absolutely confident in saying that THE MERCILESS is THE best METAL book out of them all! It personified everything I want as a reader, and even more so as a writer looking to Tomasi’s work and seeing how great a story can be.

You can pick up this amazing issue at your local comic shop, and BATMAN: THE DEVASTATOR #1 hits shelves Wednesday, November 1st!

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