When it was announced that Batman would get a mini-series that would tie into Blackest Night I wasn’t very excited. So far I have been very disappointed with Blackest Night. I just have not been impressed with what Geoff Johns has done with the event up to this point. But, the one big positive for Blackest Night: Batman is that Peter Tomasi is writing this mini-series.
Not only has Tomasi done a spectacular job with Green Lantern Corps, but he had a great run on Nightwing before Dick Grayson became Batman. Therefore, I expect that Tomasi will do a great job with Blackest Night: Batman #1. Let’s see what Blackest Night has in store for the new Batman.
Writer: Peter Tomasi
Artist: Aroian Syaf
Inkers: John Dell and Vicente Cifuentes
Colorist: Nei Ruffino
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: The issue begins in Gotham City where Batman and Robin are standing in the middle of the desecrated graves of Thomas and Martha Wayne. Robin tells Batman that this is not the way he wanted to meet his grandparents. Batman tells Robin that they are bringing the bodies back to the Bunker.
Robin tries to say something but is stopped by Batman who tells Robin that it is different when it is someone close to you. Dick tells Robin to go get the Batmobile and then they will find out what exactly happened and who Green Lantern and Flash were fighting. Dick tends to the bodies himself.
We cut to the Himalayas were Deadman is trying to escape all of the whispers of the dead people crying out to him. He is teleported to his grave where a Black Lantern ring enters his grave. His corpse rises up as Boston Brand as a member of the Black Lantern. Deadman enters his body and once he does he sees a bunch of images of his life and information about who the Black Lanterns are.
Unable to take all of the pain from being in his own dead body, Deadman is forced to leap out of his body. Deadman tries to punch his corpse, but is unable to do anything and the Black Lantern Boston Brand leaves. Deadman then flies off and goes to look for someone that he trusts to help him.
We cut to 25,000 feet above Gotham City where some soldiers are transporting the dead bodies of villains that were located in Gotham City by plane to the Hall of Justice. As the soldiers talk about transporting the dead bodies a bunch of Black Lantern rings fly through the plane and kill all the pilots and soldiers in the plane.
The Black Lantern rings find the dead corpses on the plane and slide onto their fingers. We then see Blockbuster II, the Ventriloquist with a Scarface construct, the KGBeast, Magpie, King Snake, Deacon Blackfire, the Trigger Twins, and Abttoir all as new members of the Black Lanterns.
We cut back to Batman and Robin in the Batmobile driving through the streets of Gotham. Robin tells Batman that just as soon as everything was coming together like his mother, Talia Al Ghul, told him it would his father, Bruce Wayne, dies.
Batman ask Robin if he is living in Wayne Manor, wearing a red, yellow, and green uniform, and sitting next to Batman in the Batmobile. Robin says yes. Batman tells Robin that he is part of everything that he wanted. Batman tells Robin to shut up.
Robin tells Batman that he is not afraid of anything. Robin asks Batman if he is scared of death. Batman says he is not. Batman credits it to the time he spent as a kid in the circus and performing on the highwire which also made his transition into a superhero simpler. Batman says that death comes to everyone at any time.
As he says that Deadman leaps into his body and Deadman sees images of Dick’s life which informs Deadman that Bruce is dead and that Dick Grayson is Batman. Robin notices that Batman is different all of a sudden. Robin yells at who is inside of Batman and what have they done with him.
Deadman tells Robin that Black Hand has Bruce’s skull and that he has put a cowl of energy over it. Deadman says that one of the Guardians is part of the Black Lanterns. Robin punches Batman causing Deadman to drive the Batmobile of a cliff.
The two of them exit the Batmobile and Deadman jumps into Robin and sees images of Damian’s life. Dick recovers from Deadman being in him. Deadman greats him and tells him that he is currently in Damian’s body. Batman says he is up to speed with all the stuff going on with the Black Lanterns. Batman and Deadman get in the Batmobile.
As they drive, Deadman asks Dick what happened to Bruce. Dick says it’s a long story. Deadman tells Dick that he has seen Damian’s life story. Deadman says that Dick has his hands full with the kid. Dick tells Deadman to shut up. This prompts Deadman to say that now Dick sounds more like Bruce.
We cut to the gravesites of John and Mary Grayson and Jack and Janet Drake. We see the corpses of Dick and Tim’s parents rise from the grave as new members of the Black Lanterns. Back in the Batmobile, Deadman is in pain from the voices of Dick and Tim’s parents rising from the grave. Batman pulls over at the Drakes’ gravesite. Dick tells Deadman to get out of Damian’s body before he kills him.
Batman, Robin, and Deadman then head to the graves of the Drakes and see that the corpses aren’t in their graves. Batman calls Tim. We see Tim in his Red Robin outfit and fighting someone in Paris. Dick tells Tim that his parents graves have been robbed. Tim says that he is on his way.
Robin tells Batman that it is a good thing that Batman made the call because they will need all the help they can get. Batman, Robin, and Deadman look up in the sky to see the Batsignal in the sky with a bunch of cobwebs and bodies covering it. End of issue.
The Good: Blackest Night: Batman #1 was a very strong read. Under the helm of any other writer this issue and mini-seires could have turned out to be a goofy and lame way to bring Batman into Blackest Night. But Peter Tomasi did a great job bringing Batman into Blackest Night even though Batman is a street based hero and should be out of place in a cosmic story such as Blackest Night.
It is unsurprising that Tomasi was able to do this as he simply knows how to write a great Dick Grayson and the Batfamily in general. Tomasi had a fantastic run on Nightwing before that series ended because of Dick becoming Batman. Tomasi’s writing on Blackest Night: Batman make a strong case for DC to give Tomasi a Batman book with Dick Grayson as the star.
Tomasi also did a good job making this issue new reader friendly as we got a splash page of events in Dick’s life that lead to him becoming Batman. So even if a reader who is simply getting this mini-series because it is a Blackest Night tie-in and who is completely unfamiliar with what has gone on in Batman over the past year can still jump into this issue and be mostly up to speed with what has happened with the characters.
What is great about the writing Tomasi provided in this issue is that, unlike the Batman: Reborn storyline running across the Batbooks, Tomasi writes Dick as having fully embraced the role of Batman. In this issue we do not see Dick doubting his new role as Batman. Instead, we see Dick Grayson as a confident Batman that is in control of the situation. Even with learning all of the facts about Blackest Night from Deadman Dick does not freak out. Instead, he actually takes what is going like it is a normal day as Batman and thinks of what he, Robin, and Deadman’s next move should be.
I like that we also get a moment with Dick and Damian that isn’t a conversation were Damian comes off as an obnoxious little punk. We actually see Dick helping Damian cope with the situation of someone desecrating the graves of his father and grandparents. It is a good moment between the two characters as they talk about death and if they are scared of it as it helps them understand the other person. It’s a small scene that we haven’t seen from the two of them and helps them bond together as a team.
This is also a rare human moment we get out of Damian that none of the Batman writers have given the character up to this point. As a reader, I can sympathize with Damian as his first time seeing his grandparents is when someone has desecrated their graves. Even though I still don’t like the little brat, it is the first time that I actually saw the character as someone who is not just a brat kid who is looking for attention. And for that I have got to give a lot of credit to Tomasi as he has been the only writer to make me like Damien’s character, even if it was just for a quick second.
With Tim returning to Gotham in the next issue I will be interested to see how Dick, Tim, and Damian will work together. As we saw in this issue, and the issues in Red Robin, Tim is not on good terms with anyone in the Batfamily as Tim feels that everyone has abandoned him. Hopefully, we won’t see them working as a perfect team and we see the animosity play into how they work together as a team.
It was a good move to have Deadman involved in this mini-series as it helps to see how Dick as Batman acts around someone not in the Batfamily. It is something we have yet to see in any of the Batbooks or DCU title. Dick came off as someone confident and even sounded like Bruce, which Deadman pointed out, without it seeming forced as it has at times in the Batbooks.
Deadman is also a convenient plot device to bring Batman up to speed about what is going on with Black Lanterns and the War of Light. Since Superman is off the planet in dealing with New Krypton and his people Dick is the most trusted hero on the planet and the best leader with the most connections to other heroes. If played right, having Dick learn about Blackest Night can help get the word out to the rest of Earth’s superheroes since it is only a hand full of characters that actually know about Blackest Night and the dead rising from their graves.
In addition to all this, having Deadman involved in this issue brings up a larger question about what the Black Lantern rings actually do to the dead corpses they posses. As we saw in this issue, Boston Brand’s, Deadman’s body, became a member of the Black Lanterns while simultaneously having his soul roaming the Earth and not going back to its body.
Up to this point, we have been lead to believe that those dead characters that become a Black Lantern still posses their personalities and souls of when they were alive. But in this issue we have Boston Brand soul roaming the Earth as Deadman and his corpse becoming a Black Lantern without his soul returning to its body. This brings the question if the dead characters that are brought back as Black Lanterns actually retain any part of their soul. It is a plot point that I hope Johns picks up on in the main book since so far this is the most intriguing development we have been introduced to so far in this event since it started.
And it was cool seeing all the dead villains from Batman’s Rogue Gallery as Black Lanterns. It was a great moment in the issue. I especially like seeing that the Ventriloquist created a construct of Scarface as it was a funny moment that also brings up the question if the Black Lantern rings can create constructs like the other rings.
Tomasi also provided a great hook ending with Batman, Robin, and Deadman looking up to see the Batsignal with silhouettes of what looks like dead people and cobwebs. It was a great ending that continues the horror picture vibe of the Black Lanterns.
Adrian Syaf, John Dell, Vicente Cifuentes, and Nei Ruffino combined to provide some solid artwork for this issue. Having inkers Dell and Cifuentes and colorist Ruffino’s gave Syaf art a good consistent look throughout the issue that fits with the dark horror picture vibe of Blackest Night. Syaf’s artwork for Dick’s parents and Batman’s dead Rogue Gallery members when we first see them as Black Lantern were awesome visuals that keep in line with the creepy look of all the Black Lantern members we have seen so far.
The Bad: I have no complaints with this issue.
Overall: Blackest Night: Batman #1 was a great read. Tomasi did a great job bringing in Batman and his universe into Blackest Night. So far this is the best Blackest Night related issue I have read so far. If you are reading Blackest Night than I recommend picking this mini-series up as this series will provide some answers and questions to the event. Plus seeing Batman and his allies having to fight their family and the dead Rogue Gallery along with the Deadman plotline should make this mini-series a blast to read in the next two issue.