DC Comics is rolling out an army of evil Batman doppelgangers, and there's none darker than the one showing the murderous Green Lantern Bruce Wayne could have become... had his origin story been slightly different. That version of Bruce is known as BATMAN: THE DAWNBREAKER, just one of a handful of evil Batman created in DC's Dark Multiverse, the dark, boiling subconscious of the DC Universe being introduced in Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's METAL event. The world knows the Justice League and its resident Dark Knight... but Bruce Wayne's nightmares are coming to life to put them all to the test.
Fans up to date on these truly dark inversions of Batman have already gotten a glimpse of how Batman steals Flash's speed to become RED DEATH, and the version of Bruce Wayne that became a Joker Batman. There's one for each member of the Justice League to battle, and in the case of Green Lantern, Bruce's origin story gets even grimmer (if that's even possible). Thanks to a new preview of this DAWNBREAKER Batman, fans can now answer the question: what if Bruce Wayne hadn't just been a victim the night his parents died... what if he'd been a killer?
The Death of Thomas & Martha Wayne
By now it's safe to assume that every single fan of Batman - even the casual ones - can sketch out the moment that turned Bruce Wayne into the scarred avenger he would later become. While walking through Crime Alley with his mother and father, a criminal (Joe Chill) emerges to kill them both in a senseless moment of street crime. Having seen the face of true, everyday, criminal evil, Bruce eventually pledges to never let any other innocent person befall such a fate - not if he can stop it. And so begins a life of training and determination to become The Batman.
Well, that story is about to change. Thanks to pages of DAWNBREAKER #1 released by DC, the alternate origin story crafted by writer Sam Humphries (current Green Lanterns writer) and artist Ethan Van Sciver (who else would Green Lantern fans expect?) has been revealed. As Snyder previously explained, each of these evil Batman doppelgangers are the answer to a question he has asked about the fate and character of Bruce Wayne. What if Bruce stole the Speed Force to change the past? What if Bruce Wayne embraced Apokolips and fought the Justice League?
Or, in the case of DAWNBREAKER, what if Bruce Wayne overcame the fear of his parents' death... and a Green Lantern ring found him in that same moment?
Bruce Wayne, Green Lantern Killer
The preview pages may be missing dialogue and text, but the origin story offered by the Green Lantern Bruce Wayne is as clear as it gets. As Bruce Wayne rises to pursue Joe Chill, a Green Lantern ring (programmed to seek out lifeforms capable of overcoming great fear) presents itself before him. Honestly, the fact that a child would be distinguished as possessing the willpower needed to claim membership in the Green Lantern Corps is impressive (and opens up a new discussion about Corps restrictions). But if any child had what it takes to be a Lantern... Bruce Wayne is it.
Unfortunately, it appears that Bruce's force of will, galvanized by his parents' wrongful death is too much for the ring to restrict to non-lethal force. Before Joe Chill knows what hit him, Bruce summons a giant skeletal bat to effectively vaporize him. Needless to say, life goes quite differently for Bruce Wayne from that point on. As the cover art (courtesy of Jason Fabok) shows, Bruce eventually winds up sporting a truly one-of-a-kind Lantern uniform. The ears are still intact, suggesting - like the mental projection that killed Chill - that his run-in with the bats of the Wayne Manor grounds still took place prior to his parents' death.
But beyond the events of this origin story, fans are sure to have some questions. For starters, how did Bruce commit murder with a ring? Rings used to restrict the use of deadly force, so is Bruce truly strong enough to overpower it, or does no such limit exist in the Dark Multiverse reality from which he comes? Could the colors of the emotional spectrum even be modified in this reality, bestowing the ability to instill great fear on Bruce? Does Bruce still serve the Green Lantern Corps, and if not, has he been forced to wipe them out like Hal Jordan once did?
If Hal could pull off the feat, then Bruce certainly could. And now that we know he'll wind up battling not just Batman, but the Green Lantern of the mainline DC Universe, we're assuming this 'Dawnbreaker' will be a tough opponent. Fans of the character have seen his rise from an everyday human to legendary nightmare based purely on determination and training... imagine what he could be capable of after channeling that focus into a Power Ring.
Those eager to see Humphries and Van Sciver's work can mark their calendars for BATMAN: THE DAWNBREAKER #1 - and while you're at it, see if one of these other evil Batman doppelgangers catches your attention:
- BATMAN: THE RED DEATH #1 by writer Joshua Williamson and artist Carmine Di Giandomenico (September 20th)
- BATMAN: THE MURDER MACHINE #1 by writer Frank Tieri and artist Ricardo Federici (September 27th)
- BATMAN: THE DAWNBREAKER #1 by writer Sam Humphries and artist Ethan Van Sciver (October 4th)
- BATMAN: THE DROWNED #1 by writer Dan Abnett and artist Philip Tan (October 18th)
- BATMAN: THE MERCILESS #1 by writer Peter J. Tomasi and artist Francis Manapul (October 25th)
- BATMAN: THE DEVASTATOR #1 (on sale November 1)
- THE BATMAN WHO LAUGHS #1 (on sale November 15).