Batman: The Murder Machine gives us an even more screwed-up version of The Dark Knight.

Batman: The Murder Machine, follows the theme set up by the previous one shot and imagines a world where Bruce Wayne faces and essentially supplants a Justice League member. This Frank Tieri and James Tynion IV written issue finds him dealing with Cyborg. The plot is dark and again deals with the fragile psychology of Batman. Bruce suffers even more trauma in this issue and is pushed passed his breaking point. It’s a very unique take and makes for a disturbing story. Where the last one-shot highlighted how dangerous he is, this one shows how vulnerable his mind is. Riccardo Federici’ artwork has a distinct style that is well suited for this bleak imagining. The colors are okay for a “dark” comic but portions of the story take place in flashback and suffer from the muddy color palette that I complained about in my “Red Death” review. I believe that comic book colors should, as a rule, be sharp and vibrant. Jay Fabock’s cover is another that makes good use of  holofoil. It’s not as iconic as that gorgeous “Red Death” cover but it is eye-catching and utilizes those sharp and vibrant colors that I like so much. My one complaint is that the cover doesn’t really have much to do with the interior but that’s common with comics. It’s kind of like music and music videos, I guess. The story has good pacing and avoids relying on a narrator to push the story. As you may know, I frown upon too much narration. The book addresses the timeless theme of the relationship between fathers and sons with an interesting slant. These Metal books are doing a good job of driving anticipation and I find myself looking forward to each one. (In this case, it’s the one after since I’ve already read “Dawnbreaker”, but more on that later) I hope that they can continue to produce a high quality product with these one-shots. I like them but remain unsure as to how many compelling ways they can present for Batman to go bad, without permanently detracting from the character. I will keep reading to find out.


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