BATMAN: THE DEVASTATOR #1
Written by Frank Tieri & James Tynion IV
Art by Tony S. Daniel, Danny Miki, Tomeu Morey, & Tom Napolitano
Published by DC Comics
Release Date: November 1, 2017
You killed them because you made them hope.
The Bruce of Earth -1 has found a way to beat Superman at last. After his Clark has gone rogue, he has no choice but to save any small semblance of his dying world. On Earth-0, he immediately sets to show people the truth about Clark, about how his optimism endangers everyone, and how the world can finally be saved.
Frank Tieri puts in a lot of work to make the story flow together. The time-shifts can be confusing, but ultimately are an excellent way to fully showcase a cascading loss of hope. Tieri’s structure brings on a host of emotions, and by the end you’re hoping for the best, if you have hope left. Even considering how these stories often turn out in the grand scheme, the feeling of loss is palpable and builds on the theme of the Dark Knights stories and Metal in an unforgettable way.
James Tynion IV is thoughtful as ever with the script, delivering some real gut punches from the first page. Emotional dialogue and Bruce’s twisted narration bring home the reality that the Dark Knights and Barbatos have truly begun to snuff the light of hope, made all the more impactful with the disappearance of Superman. Tynion gets into a multiversal Bruce mindset and uses the famous Detective logic to turn the idea of a savior on its head.
In some ways, this jives with concepts in psychology, such as if you are the person always saving someone, they learn to depend on you in ways that can become increasing unhealthy. To Bruce, to the Devastator, Clark has enabled this so much that when he goes dark, the world can’t cope. Tynion’s dive into the Devastator’s mind shows us that he feels this so strongly that he’s willing to transform an entire city to show them how little they need their Boy Scout.
Tony S. Daniel uses an interesting effect with pencils, contrasting the gruff Devastator with the devolving normalcy of Earth 0. Bruce’s fight with Lobo captures the grittiness of both characters, but also makes the former seem much more menacing, a presence evident through his every appearance and that begins to infect the rest of the story just as he has infected Metropolis. Daniel plays on Tieri and Tynion by increasing the jaggedness of images as the story progresses, to the point where what we are left with many visages of hopelessness and desolation.
Where I see Danny Miki’s best work is shadows and darkness as emphasis. On the whole, the inks have a nice weight that works for calmer scenes. The spots where Miki uses the deepest inks are truly wonderful, like the transformation of Lois’ hand and her look of shock, or a looming Clark hovering over Bruce before the dramatic conclusion of their fight.
Tomeu Morey makes interesting use of primary colors and schemes. The opening scene is a bright, icy blue that touches on wintry isolation with the defeat of many heroes at the hands of the Devastator. This scene is clear and puts a lot of focus on Bruce’s fight with Lobo. Then, we move to a seemingly normal Metropolis, captured in soft reds and oranges until Bruce’s transformation. After that, red and blue stand out against the dark earthy environment as small symbols of hope, reaching a peak as Kara and Lana arrive to fight, then dimming in Jon and Lois’ heartfelt goodbye and Clark’s last appearance.
What I love about letters in this issue is how the Devastator and the Batman Who Laughs both have jagged speech, but the former’s is more erratic. Tom Napolitano helps distinguish these two characters and the ones left on Earth 0 and highlights the darkness manifesting in the story and as represented by the different Bruces. Having these different lettering styles enhances the plot and theme of the story, especially considering Devastator’s words or narration are present throughout, underlining a growing sense of dereliction and despair.
Batman: The Devastator really takes its name to heart. You won’t leave this comic feeling the warm fuzzies, which is just evidence that this team did their job. At their heart, I think most cape comics are about hope, and sometimes to get there things have to get sufficiently and appropriately dark. Between Devastator and the rest of the tie-ins, the stakes have been raised in a manner which I think is really cool, though this entry in particular is incredibly strong.
The Verdict: 10/10