The Flash #33 is the beginning of the Metal tie in of “Bats Out of Hell,” a four issue crossover that includes The Flash #33, Justice League #32 and #33, and Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #33. This tie in story deals with the Justice League, who in this case are The Flash, Hal Jordan, Wonder Woman, Aquaman and Cyborg, having to fight the Dark Multiverse Batmen consisting of the Red Death, the Drowned, the Merciless, the Devastator, the Murder Machine, the Dawnbreaker and the Batman Who Laughs. The Flash #33 perfectly sets up the story that picks up straight from the ending of Metal #3 and includes spectacular art by Howard Porter.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
“BATS OUT OF HELL” part one! After the harrowing events of DARK NIGHTS: METAL #3, the JUSTICE LEAGUE has scattered around the world to find the only artifacts that can fight back against the invasion of the Dark Multiverse. The League thinks they know how to take back their world, but they are not prepared for who is standing in their way. The Seven Dark Knights of the Dark Multiverse. All the brilliance of Batman, but none of the morals. Barry Allen, The Fastest Man Alive, is the first to get a taste of their plan, as BATMAN: THE RED DEATH takes him on at the Fortress of Solitude.
Why does this matter?
“Bats Out of Hell” bridges the time between the release of Metal #3 and #4 along with Batman Lost and details events that run concurrently with Batman’s adventures in the Dark Multiverse. This fleshes out the overall story of Metal and the great battle of the positive multiverse against the minions of Barbatos from the Dark Multiverse, particularly the efforts of the Justice League to hold back and defeat the invasion force.
What’s the story?
The issue picks up from the ending of Metal #3, where Flash throws Superman into the Dark Multiverse so he can search for Batman. However, this time it’s from Flash’s perspective. Meanwhile the rest of the Justice League and their partners are heading to the specified locations from the last Metal issue when they are suddenly pulled in through boom tubes opened by the Murder Machine and separated. During that time Flash and Steel are attacked by the Murder Machine and the Devastator who are at the Fortress to obtain the Anti Monitor’s cosmic tuning fork for Barbatos. The Justice League are then taken to locations that are revealed to be Batcaves specifically tailored for each member of them before being set on by their corresponding Dark Knight of Barbatos.
What was good and bad about it?
The Dark Knights that have speaking roles in the issue are written absolutely wonderfully. It’s nice to see them given personalities and bits of backstory, such as when Murder Machine speaks to Barry trying to work out which Flash he is — he mentions both Wally and Bart Allen as well as mentioning that Barry never came back in his universe after “Crisis on Infinite Earths.” Tying these bits of information into the Flash issue gives the overall Flash-centric point of view an even greater feeling than if they weren’t included.
Tying the story to the main Flash plot by adding a few bits of dialogue that mention the Barry-Iris overarching plotline in the title gives this issue less of an intrusive feel. The issue also presents a series of panels that could either be instances of the Dark Multiverse or potential new plotlines similar to visions shown earlier on in The Flash, where multiple future plotlines were shown and have been executed since. It shows an instance that looks like it fits into Flash War as well as plots such as Future Barry and Iris, Reverse Flash and the Rogues as well as an interesting Flash wearing Anti Monitor armor and smashing worlds, which is most likely a Dark Multiverse scenario and a homage to “Crisis on Infinite Earths.” These instances could also be just Dark Multiverses like what happened to Nightwing during the “Nightwing Must Die” story arc, but considering how Williamson used visions to show future plotlines before it is most likely a mix.
And the art?
The art by Howard Porter is fantastic as usual. He draws an amazing looking Flash as well as the other members of the Justice League. One of the best parts of the issue is his drawings of the Batcaves designed around Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman and Wonder Woman, where he takes an incredible interpretation of what the Dark Knights could have came up with. The only part of the art that is not as good as the rest is Superman’s face which looks slightly off.
With brilliant art by Howard Porter and a great story by Joshua Williamson, The Flash #33 delivers an opening to the “Bats Out of Hell” arc with both visuals and writing that continue to make Metal one of DC’s best events.