When we last left our masked crusaders they were careening out of control and heading for a crash landing in a cemetery at the outskirts of Gotham city. The new Batman, Dick Grayson, has a plan where he can isolate the Black Lanterns away from the citizens of Gotham and provides a means of escape for his battered passengers Barbara and Jim Gordon. What Batman didn’t count on was the arena for this plan would turn into a circus macabre starring his dead parents.
Batman rightly deduces that the best way to limit the feeding frenzy of the Black Lanterns is to rob them of their nourishment. A stratagem that will serve him well by the end of the book. He orders Damian to escort the Gordon’s to safety through a secret passage through the grave of an Archibald Stanton. (Like a million other people I Googled Archibald Stanton and the best match I could come up with was the grave of a Arch Stanton from the classic western, “The Good, The Bad & The Ugly.) Damian typically refuses but Red Robin (Tim Drake/Wayne) has Batman’s back and orders Damian to comply. It’s good to see Dick and Tim work as a team, when the chips are down their personal differences are tossed aside for the greater good. I also appreciate the small doses of humor introduced when Batman calls Robin through his link and both Tim and Damian answer. Dick is forced to clarify, “No, the other Robin!”
Despite the fact that Batman has a plan, so do the Black Lanterns. The source of the Lanterns energy is siphoning off the rage they elicit in their perspective victims. By running their adversaries through a gamut of emotions that typically reach an apex of rage the Black Lanterns then tear their hearts out to fuel their nefarious energy. In this story the bad guys pull no punches. A giant big top is constructed complete with trapeze for the dead Grayson’s to perform on and an apartment where Red Robin sees the night his father died. Despite Batman’s pleading advice to Red Robin to resist this farce, both heroes succumb to this hellacious hallucination. Peter Tomasi does a good job of spinning a fable where both Dick and Tim are given the opportunity to save their parents but more importantly take revenge on their killers. This rage of revenge falls right into the hands, literally, of the Black Lanterns and the gruesome ghouls make a play for the hearts of Dick and Tim.
But this Batman hasn’t played his last card and proves he is worthy of the mantle of the Bat. Before entering the fray, Batman tells Deadman to go get Jason Blood aka Etrigan the Demon! Continuing the theme of “family” Peter Tomasi weaves in the need to close ranks when those dearest to you are in danger. Dick, Tim, and Damian work as one. The Gordon family is made safe with Alfred’s help and the concept of the extended Batman family is shrewdly used. Both Deadman and the Demon are part of this “family” and without them the battle would have surely been lost. While the Deadman-possessed Demon holds off the reinforced Black Lanterns with his Hellfire, Batman’s last gambit is played out. Upon orders from Dick, Robin sends a “winger” stocked with a gun from Mr. Freeze that a trusting Tim allows Dick to use on him after which Batman uses it on himself. This clever design works as Batman and Red Robin are frozen over depriving the Lanterns of a target to focus on. Deadman completes the ploy entering the bodies of our heroes allowing them to break free of their frozen cocoons.
Family, trust, sacrifice and courage. These integral themes are woven into a foundation that is critical to Tomasi’s story. With these themes Batman lives to fight another day and valuable information is gleaned to carry on this battle when it is to be renewed on a greater scale.
I’ll give this story a four out of five Bat-a-rangs. There was no clear cut resolution to this saga for it just part of a far greater epic. An epic that the Batman and his family will play an important role.
Blackest Night: Batman #3:
Reviewed by Dark Knight Dave