DC’s Dark Nights: Metal is in full swing, with the titular Dark Knights having invaded Earth, and the heroes of the Justice League scattered and trapped. At the center of the event is Batman, who’s been trapped by Barbatos in the heart of the Dark Multiverse. The Batman Lost one-shot, then, serves two purposes: from a practical standpoint, it fills a hole in DC’s schedule since there’s no issue of the main Metal title this month; while from a storytelling perspective, it gives readers a glimpse into the torture that Batman is having to endure during his captivity.
Writers Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, and Josh Williamson present glimpses of stories previously seen, as well as new, untold tales that are presented as being past Batman adventures, all of which Bruce Wayne himself assures us happened, even if they contradict each other. The result is a fragmented story as confusing for the reader as it is for Batman himself. It’s simultaneously fun and frustrating to follow along with the action of this comic, and to try to make sense of what’s real, what’s not, and what it all means. In that respect this is the most Grant Morrison-y of what has already been a heavily Morrison-infused event.
The art on this issue is split three ways, with Doug Mahnke, Jaime Mendoza, and Wil Quintana working on what is essentially the framing sequence of the issue. Mahnke is no stranger to Batman, and he and Mendoza deliver solid, occasionally frightening work. Yanick Paquette and Nathan Fairbairn provide the art for one of the Batman stories presented in the issue, and it’s enough to make one want to see a lot more of the team on the character. Their Batman is stoic and imposing, and the mood they create, particularly in the color palette that Fairbairn uses, is spot-on for the era in which the story is set. The team of Jorge Jimenez and Alejandro Sanchez cover the art for a few of the other glimpses we get of past, future, and alternate Batman adventures. Their scenes fly by with a frantic energy that enhances the disorientation of the story, while making the reader wish they could linger just a little longer in the worlds and stories being presented. The combination of the three artists and their varying art styles works extremely well for the story that Snyder, Tynion IV, and Williamson are presenting.
Batman Lost is essentially Metal #3.5, a series tie-in that feels as integral to the storyline as the main series itself. It’s an interesting glimpse into Bruce Wayne’s psyche and the role that Barbatos may or may not have played in Batman’s career.