Justice League #32 is the second part of the Metal tie-in arc “Bats Out of Hell.” “Bats” 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. Justice League #32, although it feels quite decompressed, sets up the direct confrontations between the members of the Justice League, particularly The Flash, Aquaman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern, and their Dark Knights doppelgangers.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
A METAL tie-in! “BATS OUT OF HELL” part two! The Justice League have been separated by the dreaded Dark Knights and are forced into twisted Bat-Caves designed to kill them! The Batman Who Laughs and the Murder Machine experiment on Cyborg, seeing how he reacts to the horrors of the Dark Multiverse! Can the Justice League survive their worst nightmares made real?!
What’s the story?
The majority of the issue is narrated by Cyborg and presents events of three out of the four Justice League members who are facing their dark selves and conversations between them. Flash is facing the Red Death and his Batmobile, Aquaman is facing the Drowned in her underwater cave and Wonder Woman is facing the Merciless in his Greek themed cave.
What was good and bad about it?
This issue showed the face to face confrontations between the Dark Knights and their Earth 0 equivalents incredibly well. It reveals even more of the backstory of the Knights and how far they’ll go to prepare to fight their opposites. In particular the preparation of the Red Death as well as the twisted acts that the Merciless and Drowned commit in order to have an advantage on their equal is chilling to read, as it shows just how truly evil they are and how far down they’ve fallen to commit some atrocious acts.
Venditti continues to show that Barry Allen is still inside of the Red Death, which provides an edge to the character that I wasn’t initially sure would be present. His use of the speed force and his engineering feats to build many Batmobiles to combat Flash is a very cool way to mesh the two characters together into one that fits both of them. Tying back the Drowned to her origin where she genetically spliced herself to fight the Atlanteans was a great idea as it makes sense that she’d use her skills in that department to mess with Aquaman.
The biggest problem with the issue is that it is rather decompressed, with the majority of action happening in short spurts. However, this is offset by the great interactions that Venditti writes between the Justice League and their dark mirrors.
And the art?
The art by Liam Sharp is absolutely great to look at. Similar to his tenure on Wonder Woman, he draws Diana incredibly well and makes her look absolutely stunning. His multiple designs of the Red Death’s Mad Max vehicle squad are very well drawn — each looks drastically unique, and his art of the underwater portion with Aquaman where he faces off against the Drowned and her large beast is some of the best art in all of DC currently. Each character drawn by Sharp looks incredible and makes me wish he was drawing the main Justice League title as the regular artist.
Robert Venditti writes a solid second issue that shows interaction between the Justice League and their dark mirrors incredibly well. The only problem is it feels decompressed throughout the issue.