In the second issue of Dark Nights Metal, we were introduced to seven evil versions of Batman. These Batmen also appear to be amalgamated with members of the Justice League. As you would expect from any major comic book event, there are one-shots that were released alongside the event. These further flesh out what exactly is going on. The one-shots for this event contain the origin stories of these evil Batmen and how they were recruited into this crusade into the regular multiverse.
These one-shots do more than reveal the origins of the dark invaders. They pull out one trait of Batman each issue and show how easily it can be twisted into becoming something more villainous.
Batman and the Flash
In the first Dark Nights one-shot, Batman: The Red Death, we take a look into a world where Bruce Wayne had lost all of his allies in his crusade on crime. He ends up believing that the only way to stay one step ahead of crime would have the abilities of the Flash. Batman proceeds to battle The Flash and ends up stealing his powers for himself.
The trait that was pulled out here is pretty straightforward: Batman’s preparedness. Comic readers have probably heard of the bat-prepping before through jokes, such as the Bat-Shark Repellant. However, in this case, it is shown that due to Batman being only human, he can only do so much. As such, this version of the Dark Knight goes to the extreme so he can become prepared for anything once again. This, in turn, transforms him into the real monster of this story. The trait of being prepared has turned into a trait more suited for a villain.
Batman as Cyborg
The second one-shot, Batman: The Murder Machine, pulls out a trait that while still integral to the character of Bruce Wayne, is one that gets taken for granted often. In this origin, we learn that Bruce had lost Alfred after villains broke into the Batcave and murdered him. In his grief, Batman turned to the Cyborg to ask him to help recreate Alfred as an Artificial Intelligence. Cyborg agrees to this and creates the Alfred Protocol for Bruce. Batman programs the Alfred AI to go on a killing spree against the villains who murdered him.
The trait that we see twisted here is Bruce’s love for his father. While most readers don’t see it often, the relationship between Alfred and Bruce has been that of a father and son. When Bruce first lost his biological father, it left a gaping hole that Alfred filled. However, Bruce would focus more on becoming a vigilante than showing Alfred the proper gratitude. When Alfred died, we watch as Bruce desperately tries to get him back, even if it’s an artificial ghost. It shows that the love of a father and son can be eternal, but get transformed into something sick and demented.
Sick and demented are what can be used best to describe the Batmen of the Dark Multiverse. What makes them tragic though, is the fact they started out as the Bruce we know. After one terrible incident, the elements that make up his character become twisted into something monstrous. The Joker put it best in The Killing Joke: “All it takes is one bad day to reduce the sanest man alive to lunacy.”
All of this is in just the first two Batmen one-shots. We still have five more to go, and I get the feeling the worst is yet to come.