The Darkseid War: Batman #1 Review (Week of October 28)
Fresh from the pages of Justice League: Darkseid War, a newly-god-powered Batman returns to Gotham City with a reinvigorated agenda to protect the citizens of his home city. The build up to this one-shot could not have been more exciting. Having sat upon the legendary Mobius Chair, Batman now possesses potentially infinite knowledge transcending time and space. When Batman first attained godhood one of the first things he asked the Mobius Chair was “Who is the Joker?” Upon his query being answered, he expressed disbelief as to the Joker’s true identity. We readers were not made privy to the answer. Unfortunately, no answers to this question are provided in this one shot, which is one of my biggest disappointments with it. Everyone knows that the new-52 Batman is as obsessed with the Joker as the Joker is with him. Thus, it could be seen as somewhat out of character for God-Batman to not immediately make finding the Joker his first priority.
On the other hand, there is evidence that the Mobius Chair is directly influencing Batman’s personality and character while Batman himself tries to resist its effects. Writer Peter J. Tomasi does a good job conveying the harsh truth that Batman’s relationship with the chair is symbiotic (perhaps even parasitic in nature). A particularly telling scene is when Bruce attempts to extricate himself from the Mobius Chair but is unsuccessful in doing so. Even more disturbing is the fact that the Chair ‘feeds’ and nourishes Batman (making Alfred’s culinary skills redundant and irrelevant).
One might assume that combining Batman’s brains with god-like knowledge and power would be a perfect combination. Such is decidedly not the case. Tomasi’s thoughtful script focuses as much on the flaws of Batman’s godhood as it does the advantages. For example, Commissioner Gordon actually has to point out the obvious to God-Batman; namely, that if you prevent people from committing a crime before they actually do it, you can’t successfully prosecute them for it. Bat-God’s knowledge transcends time and space and so he is aware of what certain criminals are planning the moment they contemplate it. Batman’s actions are still heroic in the sense that he is preventing crime, but he effectively removes the role of the police and prosecution and becomes judge and jury. The old Batman caught the bad guys and turned them into the police, but this new god-Batman captures them before the crime even takes place and imposes his own punishments. Individual readers may disagree with me on this, but I do not think that the old Batman would approve of the actions of his god-powered persona. It is for this reason that I believe that the Mobius Chair has indeed infected Bruce Wayne’s thought processes. Armed with infinite knowledge, the Mobius Chair has impaired Bruce’s raw human perspective and replaced it with a multi-universal one that places a blunt omniscient view above that of police and regular law enforcement. Jim Gordon may very well be correct in appearing uncomfortable with Bat-God’s new tactics. But it’s also hard not to enjoy it at the same time. For example, what better place to take a wanna-be wife killer than Paradise Island? Or transplanting would-be armed robbers to a remote part of Antarctica?
Bat-god’s crime-fighting becomes increasingly personal as the story progresses until inevitably, he tries, in vain, to travel back in time and prevent the trauma that would forever change his life. I am not sure what purpose was served by Bruce confronting Joe Chill, when he has already known for years that Chill killed his parents. Having an intimidating conversation with Chill that is later erased from Chill’s mind served little purpose especially considering that Chill is already in jail and that Bruce’s true goal is confronting the Joker; a confrontation that is only teased on the final page.
Based on the final page tease it is reasonable to assume that the Joker may appear in the next issue of Justice League. Could it actually be the case that the Joker’s true identity will be revealed in Darkseid War? I guess we will have to wait and see.
Penciller Fernando Pasarin’s art is excellent but the creative talents of colorist Gabe Eltaeb are what really stand out in this one-shot. From a visual standpoint, Batman sitting in the Mobius Chair is a glowing blue and bright feast for the senses. In every panel where Bat-god appears, he is the focus of attention. I must also compliment inker Matt Ryan, whose lines are as thin or thick as they need to be, outlining everything from the tragedy of one character’s domestic dysfunction to the lead hero’s anger-fuelled crusade. Finally, the lettering of Dave Sharpe is masterful at distinguishing between the god-empowered voices of Batman, Amazonian confidence of Artemis and, of course, the increasingly awesome “BOOM” of a motherbox.
I recommend this one-shot and award it a 7.8/10.