It turns out that Alfred Pennyworth is a stone cold killer. –on Earth -44, anyway. But, I’m getting a little ahead of myself.
Batman: Murder Machine is the first of the one-shot origins, featuring the twisted “Justice League” comprised of Bat(wo)men that stole power from other heroes on their dark worlds, to tie in to the main Dark Nights Metal storyline. Things kick off with Cyborg contacting his father at S.T.A.R. Labs, after the events of DNM #2, to try and persuade him to go home and find safety…but, after a bout of stubbornness, Cyborg resorts to having his Dad help with his research. Things are going nuts in major cities over the Earth, and as Cyborg sits in the relative safety of the Watchtower (the JL’s satellite/home base of operations), he quickly finds no place is free from the corruption of the dark Nth metal.
As Cyborg comes face-to-face with The Murder Machine, the origin unfolds on Earth -44, as the reader gets to see just how skewed Bruce Wayne’s vision of justice becomes once his father figure, Alfred Pennyworth, is brutally murdered by a number of Batman’s greatest foes– the killing blow coming as Bane snaps Alfred over his knee in a mirroring of the scene that happened to Batman himself in the early 90s.
Without delving into the story too much and killing the surprises and turns of this one-shot, I will say that it is far more brutal than The Red Death, although a common theme for Batman turning on his friends on these dark worlds seem to stem from the loss of his family members. Looks like that’s Bruce’s true breaking point.
The writing is easy to follow, and the characters speak appropriately. Even with the flashbacks, the motivations of the Murder Machine are simple and easy to follow. As for the art: Holy. Crap. It’s gorgeous. The facial expressions, the tech (of which there is a lot), and the overall feel of the book is phenomenal. Thankfully, the coloring meshes perfectly with it.
As much as I gush over everything from the Dark Nights Metal storyline, I think Batman: The Murder Machine is a standout.
Title: Batman: The Murder Machine
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Frank Tieri & James Tynion IV
Artist: Riccardo Federici
Colorist: Rain Beredo
Lettering: Tom Napolitano
Review By: Jason Stephens