The Murder Machine #1
Cyborg hasn’t enjoyed the same kind of continual big moments in Rebirth that he did in Flashpoint when he teamed with Thomas Wayne Batman.
Batman: The Murder Machine plays up on the under developed Batman/Cyborg pairing with an enjoyable one-shot. This plays more like a technology based nightmare than the more horror-tone of other Metal tie-ins.
Cyborg doesn’t know what happened when Superman and Wonder Woman reunited with Batman, but he is aware of wild events transforming Gotham. Seeking an answer before the same fate befalls the rest of the world, Cyborg is hard at work at the Watchtower when the Murder Machine Batman arrives.
On Earth-44, Batman was unable to prevent Alfred’s death and predictably it’s driven him further over the edge. But before Alfred died, Batman began creating a backup to eventually establish an AI based on Alfred’s brain pattern. Considering Batman’s well-established control freak issues, that’s not too far a stretch to imagine. And maybe just as predictable based on every worthwhile sci-fi story where man dabbles too far into technology and AI, things don’t go as planned. But for Batman, is The Alfred Protocols really such a bad idea?
Writers Frank Tieri and James Tynion IV have fun playing with this Elseworlds turn reality scenario with Alfred being the catalyst for another evil Batman. This is a Batman story, but Tieri and Tynion subtly mirror Cyborg’s bond with his father with a warped vision via Batman and Alfred.
Artist Riccardo Federici has a great style for Cyborg. Federici does a terrific job of animating Cyborg like a half-man/half-robot so his movements aren’t stiff. Too often, artists portray Cyborg like a robot with a half human head.
Federici’s work throughout the issue is just as impressive. There’s a realistic slant to the art giving it a grounded visual, which makes the action sequences stand out even more.
Typically, I’m not the biggest fan of the muted, washed out color palette, but colorist Rain Beredo does a fantastic job capturing the futuristic, mechanical feel of this story. Flashback scenes are cast in greys and whites and the current day pages have a subdued color scheme. I’d really like to see this team collaborate on more Cyborg adventures.
Tieri and Tynion IV tease that Cyborg is going to play a vital role in Metal, which is welcome. He hasn’t gotten many moments in the spotlight. With more stories like this, Cyborg truly could become the A-list player DC execs have envisioned all along.
Rating: 9.5 out of 10