Justice League #33 is the finale of the “Bats Out of Hell” crossover that pits the Justice League against their Dark Multiverse counterparts. This issue features some great writing by Joshua Williamson and terrific art by Mikel Janin and Tyler Kirkham.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
A METAL tie-in! “BATS OUT OF HELL” finale! it’s the Justice League versus the Dark Knights! FIGHT! The Dark Knights have taken a fallen Justice League to the frightening castle of [REDACTED] inside the possessed Gotham City, where they will be prepared as a sacrifice! The Justice League’s only hope is Cyborg, whose return from the Dark Multiverse has changed him forever!
Why does this matter?
The issue revolves around Cyborg, from whom the Dark Knights are trying to extract “Element X,” and his internal struggle debating whether to unlock the power needed to defeat the Dark Knights single handedly by surrendering himself wholly to the Motherbox within him or sit and watch as everyone around him falls. This upgrade essentially turns Cyborg into a multiversal level character, able to access the entire multiverse himself using the Motherbox. The urgency throughout the issue thanks to how outmatched the team is works to the advantage of writer Joshua Williamson, as it lets him move the action along while needed but also lets him take a slower pace during Cyborg’s inner conflict in the first section of the issue. Their escape from the Knights as Barbatos appears gives as much dread as when in the finale of the Gotham Resistance crossover Nightwing, Green Arrow and Robin had to flee from the appearance of the Dark Knights. It ups the stakes and shows that even though the Justice League might be able to defeat the Knights, they are nowhere near ready to take on the creature behind it all — a creature whose catchphrase is “all roads lead to darkness.”
There’s a double page thread where the group is in hypertime that shows off stories from recently and further back that are both alternate futures and currently ongoing. It includes some Sejic Aquaman, Titans of Tomorrow, Gene Yang New 52 Superman, Batman Beyond, Flashpoint, the stuff from Hitch Justice League and Robinson Wonder Woman. This is nice to see them tied together in the book as a showing of hypertime.
The issue sets up the next stage of Metal and Cyborg’s mission in Dark Knights Rising: Wild Hunt with Cyborg’s power boost being able to tap into the multiverse. It also hopefully adds in more characters such as Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew, and other multiversal versions of the Justice League. It was interesting to see how one of Cyborg’s biggest fears is turning into GRID.
And the art?
There are two different artists on this issue. The majority of the issue is drawn by Tyler Kirkham and the segment of Cyborg debating whether to let the Motherbox take control is by Mikel Janin. Janin’s section of the issue looks incredible as it takes on this almost cartoon-like internal feeling of Cyborg’s thoughts. Meanwhile Kirkham uses his Jim Lee like style to create action set pieces of the issue that while looking really nice, feel really busy at times.
With areas of decompression, Justice league manages to delve into Cyborg’s subconscious and hopefully make him into a greater asset for the Justice League.