Where has Batman been since his disappearance in the final pages of Dark Nights: Metal #2? That’s a question that we have been collectively pondering and one that is the foundation upon which Batman Lost is built.
The issue begins with a 78-year-old Bruce Wayne telling the story of his first case as Batman to a young girl too young to be his daughter, possibly his grand-daughter, all we know for sure is her name is Janet. Actually the elderly Wayne is reading from a voluminous collection of tomes all recounting his adventures in the cape and cowl as the Dark Knight, the tale chosen by young Janet is called “The Case of the Chemical Syndicate” and this is where things start to go rapidly off script for Bruce as events take on a life of their own. It seems the Dark Multiverse is up to some mischief where the narrative is concerned, both in the story Bruce is reading as well as the one we are reading, a story within a story. This is not the first time we have seen this kind of David Lynch-esque style of non-linear storytelling used in the Metal event; in fact Scott Snyder has crafted much of the main story using a similar approach. There is an organic revealing of details happening, as we read we discover more, more is revealed but, the question remains, what is real and what is an invention of the Dark Multiverse? Not unlike the Black Lodge in Twin Peaks, the Dark Multiverse uses fear and deception to maneuver the protagonist into a position faced with the options to grow of be destroyed utterly. In Batman’s case this doesn’t necessarily mean death in a physical sense, but the destruction of his alter-ego and with it all the good he has done and would potentially do.
Snyder shares the writing duties on this issue with Joshua Williamson and James Tynion IV, with whom he has worked on several Batman related projects in the past. Although it has been said too many chefs spoil the broth, that is happily not the case here. Snyder and Tynion have a great working synergy that seems to strengthen both of these singularly brilliant writers. Joshua Williamson is a perfect fit having worked on an impressive number of Batman titles including on the Metal event as writer of Batman: The Red Death #1. This trio of writers are nothing short of a Batman brain trust, each bringing something unique to the work culminating in one darn good Batman tale that progresses Snyder’s complex overall plot.
With writing talent like this the art has to be top-notch as well and believe me it is. Batman Lost #1 boasts a murderers row of artistic talent made up of Doug Mahnke, Jaime Mendoza, Yanick Paquette and Jorge Jimenez. Usually with this many art styles a book can actually suffer from a disjointed and jarring overall flow, again not the case here. The many varied styles work so well with the tone and action of this book that the changes give it the feel of an orchestral piece, all the ebbs and flows working to heighten the drama of the piece as a whole. Mahnke has a detailed style with lots of interior linework that suit the subtle moments quite well while bringing an explosive feel to the more action heavy scenes. His style is not so different from Yanick Paquette’s who also employs lots of detail to amazing effect in this issue. Jorge Jimenez brings a more emotive style to the book that really gives the darker moments a poignant punch and though he uses a completely different approach to the material his pages are woven in like fine silk, they give the entire work nuance and balance. The unifying factor is definitely Jaime Mendoza’s inks and finishes which pull the whole work into one gorgeous crescendo of sequential art beauty, kinetic and chaotic in pace and panel while engrossing and revelatory in plot.
Once again I find myself praising a Metal tie-in or one shot, and while I do count myself among the more devout Batman fans, its much more than that. DC has really put their top-tier talent on these books and given them the green light to tell the story they have envisioned with Scott Snyder at the helm. The fact that the secondary books have been so good is also a credit to Snyder for imagining such a complex plot that it can support these fully evolved backstories and concurrent narratives, that and inviting the degree of talented collaborators he has invited to the party doesn’t hurt at all. 4/5
Writers- Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Joshua Williamson
Artists- Doug Mahnke, Jaime Mendoza, Yanick Paquette, Jorge Jimenez