If you thought Batman was something to fear, then BATMAN: THE MURDER MACHINE is the stuff of pure nightmares, apparently strong enough to wipe out the Justice League in one assault. At least, that's what we're guessing from the very first artwork for the one-shot comic released as part of DC's Dark Multiverse tie-in to Dark Nights: METAL. It's the summer event that Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo have been planning for years, but it's the evil doppelgangers of Bruce Wayne invading the DC Universe that are stealing the headlines.
The publisher has already unveiled the seven evil Batmen acting as the Dark Multiverse's invasion force, with the Batman/Flash hybrid THE RED DEATH also having its cover art unveiled. While a variation of the Dark Knight who decided to embrace superspeed makes enough sense, the debut cover for THE MURDER MACHINE is a show-stopper. We don't know what new powers Batman is blessed with in this reality of DC's Dark Multiverse, or where they come from - but they're enough to blast the Justice League into oblivion.
The cover by Jason Fabok and Brad Anderson is the first real context offered for BATMAN: THE MURDER MACHINE #1, to be written by Frank Tieri with art by Ricardo Federici. The artwork of several evil Batmen (embedded above) showed the variants of Flash, Ares, Doomsday, and the glowing Murder Machine, but the cover ratchets up the action. Not only is Batman blasting energy through Cyborg and Superman, his massive skull-faced tank seems to be doing the same to The Flash, Wonder woman, and Green Lantern.
Take a look at the 'Machine' in action:
Upon first glance, many assumed that where The Red Death was based on Flash, The Merciless seemed Ares-inspired, and The Drowned has ties to Aquaman, the glowing circuitry of The Murder Machine was an infusion of Cyborg. The cover art doesn't shed too much light on the exact origin, but Apokoliptian tech does seem like a leading candidate. For those New 52 readers with ironclad memories, 'the Murder Machine' was the name given to the Apokoliptian bomb tied to Dick Grayson's heartbeat in Forever Evil. It's hard to see the direct connection, if there is any... but we doubt the name is a coincidence.
So, would Bruce Wayne willingly combine his own body with technology from the New Gods? And if so, why would he turn it against the heroes of whichever world in the Dark Multiverse he calls home? It's those questions that Tieri and Federici will be tasked with answering, before this evil Batman army is dealt with by the Justice League of the DC Universe (the one every fan is currently reading). As Snyder revealed at San Diego Comic-Con, the tone of excitement and sheer badass-itude that saturates METAL as a whole carries over to these one-shots - THE MURDER MACHINE included:
"I promise you these books are killer, killer good... We've had so much fun playing with the Dark Knights stuff, and the crossovers. I wanted to call it 'Steel Cave Match' and I got overruled. There are literally evil Batcaves each designed to 'off' one of these characters. There's all kinds of Batmobiles. Wait 'til you see-- I'm totally spoiling it, but it's crazy, crazy fun. The origins of these characters, too, are really, really special. They're a lot of the nightmares I thought about, like 'What if Batman goes too far?' in different ways."
"What if he took this one turn as a kid and wanted to bring his parents back in a way that would take him into the dark? What if after Superman died, Batman started experimenting with the Doomsday virus in a way that would prevent this from ever happening again, but he goes too far?... Why Bruce might use the Speed Force to try and be faster should a catastrophe have happened. Why he might go up against Ares."
Despite the fact that the comic will hit digital and retail shelves on September 27th, the actual plot is a mystery. That leaves fans to speculate on Bruce Wayne's reasons for becoming a nightmare in the eyes of any heroic doppelganger... and which of the Justice League will take him on directly once he tries to invade. The smart money is on Cyborg, so it's possible Vic Stone will see the villain that he could have become, had the Apokoliptian programming that saved his life actually taken him over. Or, for that matter, had his League teammates not raised him towards the light.
In the meantime, fans can plan their own Dark Days: METAL reading once the event properly begins on August 16th, with the full list of one-shots listed below:
- 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).
Expect to see even more of the nightmare Batmen get their cover artwork released in the coming week, and make sure to read through our explanation of METAL and the new Dark Multiverse driving the action.
Source: DC Comics