By Will Barber Taylor
Following on from the previous edition’s look at a dreamlike story showing Batman’s deepest and darkest nightmares, this time we travel to Soviet Russia to see The Caped Crusader battle the deadly NVK Demon and stop his reign of terror in; When The Earth Dies ! (Batman 445 – 447)
While the previous story, Life is But A Dream focussed on the internal struggles that The Dark Knight faces, When The Earth Dies is more of a basic caper. It sees Batman attempt to stop a former servant of his old enemy KGB Beast from killing members of the Communist Party that have attempted to broach peace between the US and Russia. Ultimately the story is a pot boiler of the Cold War thriller variety. Batman tends to spend most of his time either chasing NVK Demon or battling him. The Demon’s motivation isn’t exactly deep; he wants Russia to be more communist, thus decides to kill the ruling elite who have attempted to modernise the country. Demon also wants revenge on Batman for having foiled KGB Beast and blames him for his death; however this is only shown when he confronts The Dark Knight and seems to only exist to create tension between the two characters.
One of the story’s good points is the idea of Batman being a fish out of water in Moscow; he does not have the usual backing of Gotham PD to support him and so has to attempt to integrate himself with the KGB. This highlights how lenient the people of Gotham are and how part of Batman’s edge in his knowledge of Gotham’s backstreets and side streets.
The art work is nicely done, with particular attention to detail on the costume of NVK Demon. His stylized costume and the use of red make him stand out from the dark blue of Batman and his background. It also creates a neat psychological association between him and the red flag of Communism.
Overall, though perhaps not the deepest story, When The Earth Dies is a nice enough tale that sees The Dark Knight battling off a bizarre, though somehow appropriately goofy villain.
Next Time – Nowhere Man.