'Batman: The Devastator #1' Review: Great Lead, Lackluster Backstory
On the Earth of the Devastator in the Dark Multiverse, Superman turns upon those he protected. He goes on a killing spree across the planet until Batman stands in his way. With nothing left to lose, Batman injects himself with a special strain of the Doomsday virus, finally bringing down the Man of Tomorrow.
On our Earth, he is tasked with retrieving the Cosmic Tuning Fork of the Anti-Monitor. When he is done, he goes to Metropolis to meet with the Lois Lane of our world.
The premise of the downfall of the Devastator's world is a little tired and noticeably undercooked. Those two actually link to one another in a slightly humorous way, as if the story itself is saying, "Yeah, you've heard this one before. Superman goes evil; no explanation is required."
Superman going evil and going all fascist on everyone's asses is so common this story just allows you to fill in the blank. Injustice, Dark Knight Returns, Watchmen by way of Doctor Manhattan; this premise is rehashed at every turn. It's a bit of a shame that Devastator couldn't have come up with another conceit for its Doomsday-Batman.
Though its backstory is lacking, Devastator does make up for it in the personality of this Batman, as well as the story in the present. This Batman has been shattered by the betrayal of his Earth's Superman, and he is constantly on the edge of a rampage as a result. Perhaps this is due to the Doomsday virus. Perhaps this was always below the surface of Bruce Wayne. The comic leaves it pleasingly ambiguous.
What isn't ambiguous is that Superman tore this Batman's heart out, and he is — well, devastated by the betrayal. He's barely holding it together, and that makes it quite different from the Batman we are used to seeing.
The story is also a fair bit about Lois Lane. This side of the comic is an emotionally weighty read, and it does well to earn its darker moments. Dark Nights lives up to its name.
There's a fight between the Devastator and Lobo, which is pretty entertaining, too.
Tony S. Daniel contributes the art to this book. He's been one of my preferred DC artists since his days on Batman: Detective Comics back at the beginning of the New 52. His style is distinctive, detailed, and atmospheric. It looks great, and he lives up to his reputation with Devastator. Tomeu Morey's colors are gorgeous, too, making this an all-around great-looking comic.
While its conceit leaves a lot to be desired, Batman: The Devastator pulls through with a genuinely compelling spin on Batman and a great story in the present. It's up there with Murder Machine, Red Death, and Dawnbreaker in quality and earns a strong recommendation. Check this one out.