Written by Joshua Williamson
Art by Carmine Di Giandomenico
Colors by Ivan Plascencia
Letters by Tom Napolitano
Batman the Red Death is the first of eight tie-in issues that will be giving the backstory of the Dark Knights that made their first in book appearance in Metal #2.
The Red Death drops the reader into the Central City of Earth negative -52 and it is coming apart with the rest of the world. In the opening panels, it would appear that Barry Allen (Flash) is doing battle with the Rogues even at the end of the world. Its revealed Quickly that that’s its actual Batman wilding all of their weapons. After encompassing the Flash Batman Straps him to the front of a Batmobile and drives the two of them into the speed force.
So there are a couple things that are going to stand out to a reader right away. The biggest one will be that the story is heavy with nodes and references to the point of almost breaking the fourth wall in some places. On the first page the Batman who Laughs is narrating and he starts by saying “Stop me if you’ve heard this one….Worlds will live, Worlds will die…” This and the opening imagery on the first page are callbacks to Marv Wolfman and George Perez’s Crisis on Infinite Earths. From there Di Giandomenico’s other visual references are to Frank MIller’s Dark Knight. He includes several shot recreations, the Bat-Tank and in a couple of places we see characters that look like mutants and have the signature glasses. The last one that really stood out was toward the end of the book the Batman who laughs talks about having one bad day, and this is a pretty known aspect of Alan Moore’s Killing Joke.
The visual nods can be fun and don’t take a reader out of a story, however, the Batman Who Laughs pretty much-pulling dialog from other DC comics can. In the course of the issue, the reader is given a distinct impression that negative earths are created and then meant to die. If this is the case that means that The Batman Who Laughs has obviously escaped and then read back issues of DC comics? A very prominent aspect of Grant Morrison’s Multiversity was that other earths have comics about others earth’s within the multiverse. Does this mean that the many negative earths have this privilege as well? Now to get into all of this here is way bigger conversation than I am prepared for at this moment, as readers we will have to sort of wait, see, and surmises issues to issues and then once more when all is said and done.
Even though lacking it provides as many questions as it answers Williamson offers and expands on interesting concepts. The issue introduces the Red Death’s odd personality disorder that took hold after his trip through the speed force. It will be interesting to see if this aspect of the character comes through in the main books and how it will affect things going forward. It will also be interesting to see if the Batman who laughs awareness of seemingly fourth world things persists.
Verdict, Give it a read. It’s definitely not a rush out a buy but it will provide backstory for a new villain and give readers insight as to where some of our mainstream heroes wind up.