WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Part 3 of Dark Nights: Metal’s “Bats Out of Hell” crossover.
Although Dark Nights: Metal, by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, is officially on a bit of a hiatus as it gears up for its next big act, other DC Comics titles are still very much neck-deep in the action of the devastating, multiverse-spanning story.
The “Bats Out of Hell” crossover in particular has picked up the Metal storytelling reins, taking over The Flash #33, Justice League #32 and 33 and Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #32. Plotted and written by Robert Venditti and Joshua Williamson and illustrated by Liam Sharp, Ethan Van Sciver and Howard Porter, the event has seen the remaining members of the Justice League scattered as they fight the Dark Knights — the dark Multiverse’s evil Batmen — and their twisted machinations.
Flash found himself facing off against the Red Death; Aquaman is at the mercy of The Drowned; and Wonder Woman dueled with The Merciless. Each fought a battle that was over before it even began. Barry Allen couldn’t hope to be as fast as his opponent. Arthur Curry succumbed to the agony and wrath of losing Mera. And a physically beaten Diana of Themyscira was dealt a stunning blow thanks to the arrival of the terrifying ghosts of deceased Amazons.
With Cyborg being tortured by the Batman Who Laughs and the Murder Machine in control of the Justice League’s satellite headquarters, Superman hopeless and Batman lost in the Dark Multiverse, every Leaguer was fighting a losing battle. Every one… except Hal Jordan.
In Hal Jordan #32, part 3 of the “Bats Out of Hell” storyline, the greatest Green Lantern of them all found himself facing off against The Dawnbreaker, a twisted version of Bruce Wayne who, as we learned in Batman: The Dawnbreaker one-shot by Sam Humphries and Ethan Van Sciver, came into possession of a Green Lantern ring shortly after his parents’ murder. So strong was his willpower, and so angry was he, this Bruce managed to break his ring, harnessing the darkness rather than the light as part of his arsenal.
Thus, in Dawnbreaker’s batcave, Hal Jordan finds himself surrounded by nothing but blackness, fighting an enemy able to absorb the green light of his ring.
While the other members of the Justice League succumbed to their fears and quickly fell at the feet of their respective evil counterparts, Hal reminded everyone, once again, why he is such a great and inspiring character. With willpower as his ally, Hal smiles in the face of the Dawnbreaker, quickly pointing out that he has no fear of the villain.
Instead, Hal finds a way to battle his opponent, activating a strobe effect from his ring that is too quick for the Dawnbreaker to absorb. It’s both an ingenious and brilliant move, effective illustrated by Van Sciver’s art, with black panels peppering out a sequence that only showed us fractions of what Hal was up to before revealing the full scope of his power.
The Dawnbreaker finds himself on the ropes, the only Dark Knight on the losing side of battle. Although he ultimately defeats Hal, he only manages to do so thanks to a great dark power that had previously wiped out the entire Green Lantern Corps on Dawnbreaker’s own world. Facing a dark army of his worst opponents, Hal recognizes defeat, but he doesn’t give in. He doesn’t flinch. He doesn’t back down or feel fear. He fights through it, as he always does — this time asking “Who’s first?”
Yes, Hal Jordan ultimately loses his battle against Dawnbreaker — but he’s the only Leaguer who managed to put up enough of a fight to nearly win. While this battle was lost, the war roars on, and the Dark Knights will discover that you can’t defeat the greatest GL of all time the same way twice.
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