Holy shit!

Book one may have started a little slowly, but book two just kicked the door in and knocked everything over. The Batman-centric introduction we were given in book one leads up to a broad expansion of the characters and stories we’re shown in book two. From Superman and Wonder Woman’s hot-tempered daughter Lara to The Atom himself, Ray Palmer, everything about this book makes the scope of the story feel so much bigger thanks to some key smaller moments. (Bad pun is bad.)

After last issue’s spoiler-y revelation that Batman is no longer Bruce Wayne, but Carrie Kelley, we follow the rather unpleasant experiences of the world’s most dangerous prisoner being escorted through a maximum security prison by armed guards and being interrogated. In a stunning show of Carrie Kelley’s Batman-level toughness, we see her take all of this in stride, and even having fun with her circumstances; fake crying at one point to garner sympathy from Commissioner Yindel before laughing in her face. It’s a very Watchmen sort of moment, bearing the details of Bruce Wayne’s tragic death on a bed, alone, except for his efficient protégé, Carrie.

At least, that’s the story we’re made to believe until a giant Bat-tank breaks Carrie out and escorts her past legions of armed police and helicopters, fighting armoured trucks and racing away from scores of police cars. It’s a very extravagant moment, stunning in its carnage and excess. The tank, while empty, is piloted exceptionally well.

On the other side of things, the story of Lara-El and Ray Palmer, continued from “The Atom” mini comic, finds us witnessing the final steps of a dire mission to free the people of the Bottle City of Kandor, imprisoned in a miniature reality and yearning to breathe air from outside their glass-walled existence. With the aid of a representative of the city’s people and Lara as a medium, we follow the attempts of Dr. Palmer to return an entire city to proper size, something The Atom is well familiar with, though perhaps not on such as vast scale.

We see in the end, however, that Palmer’s noble attempt to give a people back their livelihoods is met with a most horrific consequence: the city has been overrun by a brutal cult, led by Quar, a murderous zealot with only the purpose of utter domination as his motive. Realising too late to reverse his mistake, Ray Palmer’s last moments in the Miller-verse are those of horrified regret, Quar breaking the piece of Atom’s suit that regulates his change in size, causing him to shrink uncontrollably before being crushed unceremoniously beneath Quar’s boot. We then see the entire bottle city vaporised by Quar’s Kryptonian heat vision, before cutting away.

The escapee Carrie Kelley walks down a dimly-lit metal corridor, still in her prison jumpsuit. She approaches a hunched figure silhouetted by a wall of video feeds – Bruce Wayne.

Grade

A

Conclusion

While certainly controversial to long-time fans of some characters, Miller has never been one to pull a punch, and those left unsatiated by book one’s cursory reintroduction to the universe will find book two delivers to a crushing extent.