Evil Batmen

SPOILERS FOR DARK NIGHTS: METAL #2

Scott Snyder has revealed the main antagonists for DC’s “Dark Multiverse” event and they are the Batmen. At least, they’re several different versions of Batman from across the Dark Multiverse. Scott Snyder is chasing a clever, yet wacky, concept by bringing several different evil versions of Bruce Wayne into the comics. Each of these Batmen represents a different weakness or dark trait of the Dark Knight. Here is an explanation of all the different Batmen and what they represent for the Dark Knight.

THE RED DEATH

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The Red Death fights the Flash.

The Batman of Earth -52 possesses the same intellect, strength, and courage of the Batman of Earth Prime. He’s the most skilled and intelligent man on that Earth, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s still only human. While he tries to avenge his parents’ murder, Bruce feels too limited to accomplish anything of note. Despite his genius, preparedness, and training, Bruce finds that he’s powerless to save his world and the ones he loves. After his whole family dies in a cataclysmic event, Batman finally loses it.

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By this point, he’s an older, hardened Batman very much in the vein of Frank Miller’s THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS. Age is beginning to weaken and slow Bruce down, yet he’s still determined to save the world. He wants to be fast enough to save all the people that need help, and he wants to be everywhere at once. Bruce wishes he could change the past. This is why he seizes the Speed Force for himself and becomes the Red Death. This Batman will use the Speed Force to create a world to his liking and transform Central City into a new Gotham on Earth Prime. The Red Death is dangerous not only because of his physical speed but because he can think twice as fast as a regular human. Combine that with Batman’s already high-functioning brain and we find ourselves with a foe of godlike proportions.

The Red Death represents Batman’s constant fear that he isn’t doing enough. It shows Batman’s inability to accept his limits. DC released BATMAN: THE RED DEATH #1 by Joshua Williamson and Carmine Di Giandomenico on September 20th. Find out more about this version of Batman in that issue, already available!

THE MURDER MACHINE

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BATMAN: THE MURDER MACHINE #1 cover by Jason Fabok. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

This Batman lives in a time after Alfred has died. Bruce doesn’t know how to continue without his longtime mentor, so he asks Cyborg to upload Alfred’s consciousness into an A.I. he calls the Alfred Protocol. Yet, once Bruce uploads Alfred’s mind into the A.I., it takes Alfred’s paternal instincts to a new extreme. Alfred has always been motivated by a desire to protect his adoptive son, by any means necessary. Since the A.I. now has these desires and lacks any morality, he kills all of Gotham’s villains to help Bruce. The Justice League tries to oppose the Alfred Protocol, but they find themselves overpowered by its vast technological power.

The Robot absorbs the Justice League members, including Batman’s consciousness, into his own system. Now rechristened as this world’s Batman, the Murder Machine continues his quest to cleanse the world until he deems it safe. The Murder Machine shows two weaknesses of the Dark Knight. Firstly, even though he pretends not to be, Batman is too dependent on those closest to him, and he’s afraid that this will be his undoing. Secondly, Bruce is part of a crusade with seemingly no end. When will he stop? When there’s no more crime? If an artificial intelligence were to possess Batman’s desire to stop crime, it probably wouldn’t be able to take a nuanced approach. It would kill everyone that stands in his goal of creating his own perfect world. BATMAN: MURDER MACHINE #1 by Frank Tieri and Riccardo Federici will be out by September 27th!

THE DAWNBREAKER

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BATMAN: THE DAWNBREAKER #1 cover by Jason Fabok. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

On another earth, Bruce Wayne is walking down an alley when a gunman comes along and shoots his parents. Here, however, the young Bruce Wayne doesn’t break down and cry like he usually would. Instead, he chases the gunman. He shows no fear and because of this, immediately receives a Green Lantern ring. He then instantly becomes a Green Lantern and uses his newfound powers to capture and torture the gunman. Bruce twists and contorts the gunman’s body until he’s totally unrecognizable.

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The Dawnbreaker version of Batman has no inhibitions. This Bruce has complete confidence in his quest against crime which makes him extremely ruthless and dangerous. It’s also interesting that this Batman instantly became a superhero after his parents’ murder. He had no time to grow or learn restraint and responsibility. Now, this Bruce will act as a petulant and wrathful Lantern, determined to form the world to his liking. Sam Humphries and Ethan Van Sciver are the creative team on BATMAN: THE DAWNBREAKER, which will be out on October 4th.

THE DEVASTATOR

Drawing of the Devastator by Jason Fabok. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

BATMAN: THE DEVASTATOR takes place on an alternate Earth right after Doomsday and Superman killed each other. Bruce, stricken by grief from the loss of his friend, refuses to give up hope and begins to experiment with the Doomsday virus. Yet, Bruce goes too far with his experiments and accidentally transforms himself into a version of Doomsday known as the Devastator.

The Devastator represents the beast inside of Batman. Ever since his parents’ death, he’s always had a rage and violent nature that cannot be quelled. Earth Prime’s version of Batman has learned to utilize his anger for good, but what if he hadn’t? He would have become the perfect engine of destruction. That is exactly what the Devastator is. BATMAN: THE DEVASTATOR by Frank Tieri and Tony S. Daniel comes out November 1st!

THE BATMAN WHO LAUGHS

The Batman Who Laughs and his Robins in TEEN TITANS #12. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

The creepiest version of Batman, the Batman Who Laughs already appears in the “Gotham Resistance” crossover. We don’t know the exact origin of this Batman, except Scott Snyder has said that the story will focus on a Batman that “killed the Joker and found out that [Joker had] a toxin in his heart that essentially made whoever kills him the next Joker, and that’s why he’s always tried to get Batman to kill him.” This is an extremely twisted version of Batman which explains why Bruce is afraid to kill Joker. Bruce fears that if he kills the Joker he’ll find that he’s become exactly like him.

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The Batman Who Laughs is a reference to the movie which inspired the Joker, THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. This Batman is more or less the same as Earth Prime’s Batman except that he’s lost Bruce’s sense of right and wrong. Furthermore, he leads an entourage of cannibalistic Robins which utter the words “crow.” What’s scariest about the Batman Who Laughs is that the only real thing that has changed about him is his temperament. Whereas as the other Batmen underwent major physical changes, the Batman Who Laughs primarily transformed psychologically. Find out more about the Batman Who Laughs in James Tynion IV and Riley Rossmo’s November 15th one-shot.

THE MERCILESS and THE DROWNED

BATMAN: THE DROWNED and BATMAN: THE MERCILESS covers by Jason Fabok. Images courtesy of DC Entertainment.

The two evil Batmen DC have revealed nothing about are the Merciless and the Drowned. These Batmen are presumably Batman combined with Ares, the God of War, and a Batman combined with an Atlantean, respectively. Batman becoming the God of War especially interests me since he’s already in an endless war against crime. It looks like this Batman will embrace his love of war and face the powers in Olympus.

There is not much to say yet about the Drowned, though it’s interesting that this is the only female evil Batman. Is she originally a male and her amalgamation with a female Atlantean turns her into a woman? Or was this Bruce born a woman? Is this Bruce half-Atlantean like Aquaman? I definitely have the most questions about what this trident-wielding Batman represents and what her origin story is. BATMAN: THE DROWNED #1 by Dan Abnett and Phillip Tan comes out October 18th whereas BATMAN: THE MERCILESS #1 by Peter J. Tomasi and Francis Manapul will be released soon after on October 25th.

The Reign of The Batmen

There’s no question that these evil Batmen are goofy and strange. Before you write them off as gimmicky, however, know that these Batman all represent a different aspect of Bruce Wayne’s psyche. Whereas we’ve had an Identity Crisis for the entire DC universe, “Dark Multiverse” is Batman’s personal Identity Crisis. By the end, our Batman will have to learn what makes him unique and divergent from the rest of these evil Batmen. Like the BATMAN BEGINS quote suggests, “it’s not what you are underneath. It’s what you do that defines you.” The Batman of Earth Prime isn’t defined by his dark traits, but by his heroic nature. That is what Scott Snyder’s “Dark Multiverse” will prove.

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