For if knowledge is power, then a god is… Batman?!
If you thought Morrison’s Bat-God run apotheosized the Dark Knight like whoa, just wait ‘till you get a load of him in Justice League: Darkseid War: Batman #1… where he’s literally a god.
Is it good?
Justice League: Darkseid War: Batman #1 (DC Comics)
We follow Batman, the new God of Knowledge, as he floats around all ominiscient-like through Gotham City courtesy of Metron’s sleek black Mobius Chair (which he copped from Darkseid’s homeworld of Apokolips). It’s clear this isn’t the rooftop-scaling, brooding in the shadows, Batmobile stuntin’ Dark Knight we all know and love; instead, this Batman looks like he just stepped out of some Tron: Legacy crossover, Bat-Suit inlaid with electric-blue seams that coruscate like circuitry.
Transportation isn’t the only facet of Batman’s new modus operandi we see switched up; he pays Commissioner Gordon one last patronizing visit as well. Does he really need to get the scoop on a criminal before dashing off to scrape him across the pavement? Not so much. He sums up the new terms of his relationship with his longtime confidante, in not so humble fashion, through his opinion on a particular distress signal:
The art team of Fernando Pasarin (penciller), Matt Ryan (inker) and Gabe Eltaeb (colorist) do a solid job. Pasarin depicts an excellent Batman: as stoic and sagacious-looking in his Mobius Chair as some cape-and-cowl clad Lincoln statue at the Lincoln Memorial. Batman’s indifference is made even more impressive by the realistic range of facial expressions on the characters that have to react in disbelief to his even-more-intimidating-than-before demeanor; until Batman confronts his parents’ killer Joe Chill and Tomasi etches a snarling grimace on the Dark Knight’s face that’ll have you checking your drawers for wet spots. The costume design, although once again lending to Tron, still manages to look bad-ass as well; it might be a little too Batman Forever for some, but Eltaeb’s coloring gifts it with an otherworldly incandescence that makes it nearly impossible to peel your eyes away.
Tomasi also crafts an interesting narrative that doesn’t fail to entertain. However…
What’s not so good?
We haven’t seen Batman exhibit much in the way of intellectual preeminence besides condescending smacktalk (including this stinging barb towards Green Lantern in Justice League #44)… so I was especially interested to see how he’d interact with well known Gothamites, from criminals to Alfred to Commisoner Gordon. Unfortunately, the narrative can’t sustain the captivating momentum of that opening sequence which establishes new Batman, God of Knowledge, as a transcendent figure. The overarching question becomes: Why? Why does an all-knowing Batman float from criminal to criminal, doling out judgement like a conflation of quasi-Spectre and the PreCrime thought police from Minority Report?
Why give Batman the power of omniscience and then relegate him to talking snarkily to his friends and mindfucking with hackneyed bank robbers in a way that’s embellished by teleportation and parlor tricks, but ultimately not much more impressive than before?
Why have godmode intellect Batman hash it out with Joe Chill for the upteenth time and psychologically screw with him in a way that’s not nearly as jarring as that time he made the guy constantly piss his own pants in Morrison’s “Joe Chill in Hell” story? (And when did Joe Chill start talking like Mr. Zsasz? “They hit the ground like wet meat,” when referring to Thomas and Martha Wayne? The hell?)
Tomasi likely wanted to keep readers steeped in some sense of familiarity by keeping the story contained in Gotham but I wish he had taken a little more liberty. He didn’t need to show a Batman completely detached from and disinterested in his former life, but maybe a modicum more of Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen than teleportation and Jedi Mind Tricks would have left a more lasting impression.
Is It Good?
Solid art and an entertaining narrative combine for an issue that’s worth a look… although the restrictions on what Batman does despite all his newfound power leaves less of a lasting impression than I’d hoped for.