Cover Date: 1994
Story: Mike W. Barr
Art: Jerry Bingham
Cover: Jerry Bingham
Bruce Wayne mopes alone in his mansion, wondering how he can honor his parents’ death so many years ago. He’s suddenly greeted by a vision of a dying Abin Sur, whose ship had crashed outside. Wayne is given a power ring, and becomes Earth’s Green Lantern. He uses this to instill great fear in Gotham City’s criminal element, and soon, the Guardians force him to visit the planet Korugar to depose the rogue Green Lantern Sinestro. Once the villain was defeated, the Guardians exiled him to Qward, but Sinestro acquires a yellow power ring and returns to Earth. He does some digging in order to discover Green Lantern’s secret identity, and after scanning the mind of Joe Chill, the killer of Wayne’s parents, Sinestro develops a dangerous split personality. He creates more villains to help him, as well as damaging other planets, but Green Lantern is only focusing on Sinestro. The Guardians try to rein in the disobedient Earthman by sending four other Corps members after him, but they also give power rings to Superman, the Flash, and Wonder Woman in order to deal with Sinestro. The bad guys are defeated, but Sinestro escapes into space after causing Alfred’s death. Wayne takes off in hot pursuit, vowing to hunt him down wherever he goes.
Yes, Batman: In Darkest Knight is another Elseworlds tale. Most of the story is cleverly told through Wayne’s monologues, in the form of journal excerpts. This is a motif common to Batman comics, and it still works here with an radically different alternate universe Bruce Wayne who actually has superpowers.
In Darkest Knight reunites the creative team of Mike Barr and Jerry Bingham, who were responsible for the excellent graphic novel Batman: Son of the Demon. Barr in particular has a long history of writing top Batman stories, and his Green Lantern work isn’t exactly poor, either. He scripted such great stories as Tales of the Green Lantern Corps in the 1980s, which you may remember as being the first appearance of Nekron.
On the visual side, Jerry Bingham’s art has a clean look that evokes 1980s superhero design. His merged Batman/Green Lantern costume is not only effective, but it feels unique. A hero that looked like that wouldn’t be out of place even now in the modern DC Universe. (Fun fact: the Green Lantern symbol that Wayne adopts is the same as that used for the power rings in Green Lantern: First Flight.)
Unfortunately, the story isn’t without its problems. First of all, In Darkest Knight feels a bit short, even for a prestige format book. Doubling the size or expanding it into two 48-page volumes would’ve served the tale a bit better, I’d think. Turning Sinestro into the Joker was a bit of a stretch, but without it, the Batman connection wouldn’t make as much sense. In fact, not only was Sinestro never referred to as the Joker, but Wayne never called himself Batman! Finally, the Guardians’ methods were questionable: they sent a group of Green Lanterns to stop Wayne, and other superheroes after Sinestro and his lackeys. Why not just send a larger contingent of Corpsmen to help Wayne deal with Sinestro, then punish him afterwards? By the end of the story, it seems that Wayne chasing Sinestro across the galaxy was always their intention, but they could’ve handled that without all of the excess plotting, and certainly without the death of Alfred.
Overall, however, In Darkest Knight is a fun read for both Batman and Green Lantern fans.