Batman Lost #1
Written by Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, and Joshua Williamson
Art by Doug Mahnke, Yanick Paquette, and Jorge Jimenez
Inks by Jamie Mendoza, Yanick Paquette, and Jorge Jimenez
Colors by Wil Quintana, Nathan Fairbairn, and Alejandro Sanchez
Letters by Tom Napolitano
Cover by Olivier Copiel and Dave Stewart
Published by DC Comics
A review by Stacy Dooks
Thus far in my series of reviews of the various tie-ins to DC’s Dark Nights Metal I’ve been pretty pleased. The Dark Nights one-shots starring the various Evil Batmen have all been consistently fun, and each has provided insight into the antagonists of the crossover as a whole. I’m not a big fan of crossovers these days (I think the last one I seriously enjoyed prior to Metal was Marvel vs. DC to provide some context), so for this series to win me over is no small feat. Unfortunately with Batman Lost #1, we reach the first issue of the crossover which has left me less than excited. In fact, I have to say that of the crossover tie-ins I’ve read thus far this is easily the weakest. Why is this? Let’s sit down in this tastefully appointed study and we’ll talk about it.
When I first heard about Batman Lost, I was excited: the Bruce Wayne of Earth-0 (the “real” Batman if you will) trapped in the Dark Multiverse, fighting his way back to our reality, leaping from world to world striving to right what went wrong on each dark parallel of his own Earth and hoping each time his next leap would be the leap home. . .well, I was excited. And while there is an element of multiversal travel in the story, the actual tale is of Batman being a captive of Barbatos and revealed to be a pawn in his diabolical game of checkers all along. This disappointed me in the extreme. I can see the necessity of having to explain how Batman isn’t able to help directly in the events of Metal just yet, but when it came to the tone of this story and its overall feel I have to confess no small amount of letdown. Having the hero be the captive of the villains is a time-honored tradition in superhero comics, but the thing about Batman is he is the textbook definition of determined. He never, ever gives up. Next to Scott Free, he’s the one hero you’re going to have a hell of a time trying to keep pinned down. I’m reminded of the scene in Morrison’s JLA where the super-powered Hyperclan severely underestimates him by thinking him a mere mortal. To paraphrase the Joker, there is nothing mere about this particular mortal.
Now this isn’t to say the book is executed poorly, far from it. The writing by Snyder, Tynion, and Williamson is solid and the art by Mahnke, Paquette, and Jimenez is eye-catching. The story definitely has a nice Twilight Zone feel to it, which is appropriate given it’s very much a horror story featuring Batman. But when you have a character like Batman who has literally stared down evil personified in the face and shot it with a cosmic gun suddenly tap out due to some Cthulhu wannabe in a bat cloak pulling mind games on him? There I have to pull the car over to the side of the road. You can have Batman wished into the cornfield, but you better believe he’d be fighting tooth and nail to get back home.
Again, I understand the function of this story: it has to illustrate why Batman can’t charge in to the rescue and help save the day. I even appreciate the idea behind it: too often Batman has become Batgod and been the invincible hero with a plan who’s nigh unbeatable. But it is in the execution of this story I find fault. You can show me a Batman fighting to get home, but you cannot show me a Batman who gives up. That is antithetical to my personal take on the character. Which is why Batman Lost #1 gets only a partial nod from me. A story in which a dynamic protagonist who never gives up is beaten down into the mud and surrenders isn’t really something I care to read.
Buy It if you’re a completionist, but personally I think this story can wait for the trade paperback collection. Otherwise, Skip It. It’s a good looking and decently written creepy tale, but it doesn’t really advance the plot or do much of anything beyond illustrate Batman’s helplessness. Batman Lost #1 is good, but not great.