If the only person who could truly beat Batman is another Batman, he's going to have his hands full this summer, when seven-- SEVEN evil alternate universe Batmen invade Gotham City. They're the newest threat promised to arrive in DC's epic Dark Nights: METAL event, with each of the seven Batmen hailing from a different world in the aptly-titled "Dark Multiverse." And if half a dozen murderous versions of Bruce Wayne weren't terrifying enough, they'll each be redesigned with the superpowers of fellow Justice League heroes, villains, and Batman's greatest nemesis himself...
The seven one-shot stories were announced by DC as one more expansion of the massive Dark Nights: METAL event coming in August. The lead-up to Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's "summer blockbuster" has technically begun, with Dark Days: THE FORGE now on store shelves. The issue is one of two single issue prologues to the mainline METAL event written by Snyder and James Tynion IV, and the first evidence that DC is relying on its very best talent to give fans a summer to remember. The same goes for the seven 'Dark Multiverse' comics - not to mention the 'Gotham Resistance' that will be formed as a result (Bruce is really going to need all the help he can get).
Before we go any further, let's cover the goods, with a quick rundown (and release dates) of the seven "corrupted" versions of the Dark Knight "spawned from the Dark Multiverse to wreak havoc on Earth":
- 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).
These evil versions of Batman tell you all they need to with their monikers, but the announcement also revealed the logos and silhouettes of the Batmen in question. Take a look:
From the names and symbols, fans should be able to decipher the exact superpowered "corruption" leading to the creation of these Dark Multiverse Batmen. Batman: The Red Death features a Bat symbol divided by The Flash's lightning (and a runner's pose to match). Batman: The Dawnbreaker gives Batman a coat and, presumably, a Green Lantern ring of his own to not bring about an "Emerald Dawn," but apparently break it with force. Batman: The Drowned will apparently be infusing Batman with the mythology of Atlantis, and Batman: The Merciless as a twisting of Wonder Woman's. The logo for Batman: The Devastator may not be as well-known, but the silhouette should be: yes, that's a Batman/Doomsday hybrid. Hold onto your capes.
While Batman: The Murder Machine is a less obvious reinvention, The Batman Who Laughs promises a nightmare creation fusing Bruce Wayne with The Joker himself. Batman facing off against any one of these villains or creative teams would be worth attention, but combining them into one assault - and possibly aside from the core series itself - is what DC Entertainment's Executive Editor Patrick McCallum promises fans can expect from METAL:
"With names like The Red Death, The Murder Machine, The Dawnbreaker, The Drowned, The Merciless, The Devastator and The Batman Who Laughs, it’s pretty clear that these creatures mean business and prove just how dangerous the Dark Multiverse will be for DC's heroes.
"With the combination of an event comic helmed by two of the most talented creators in comic history a legion of evil Batmen and crossover titles that show just how deeply this event impacts the DCU, fans will know now more than ever that DARK NIGHTS: METAL is something not to be missed."
For those casual DC fans interested in METAL, but not looking to empty their bank accounts on a sprawling event, the core issues aren't too expansive. The stage will be set by Dark Days: THE FORGE (out now) and Dark Days: THE CASTING (coming July 12th), before the proper series Dark Nights: METAL begins in August. Once the evil Batmen issues start to roll out, the 'Gotham Resistance' we mentioned before will spread to Damian Wayne and Dick Grayson's worlds in their respective Teen Titans and Nightwing series for a single issue, along with Suicide Squad.
But just as enticing as these corrupted Batmen is the issues themselves, with each $3.99 one-shot sporting a foil stamped cover (featuring protective UV coating) to drive even deeper into true 'metal' territory. With artwork for each one-shot to be handled by praised Justice League and Suicide Squad artist Jason Fabok, expect the first cover images to spread like wildfire whenever the first previews are released.
Although the first marketing materials have focused on Batman's central role in METAL, all creators involved have emphasized that the event is truly a Justice League story. Which means fans of the Dark Knight will be just as pleased as those fond of Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, and more than one returning hero revealed in THE FORGE #1. The summer of 2017 is shaping up to be a big one for DC Comics, with Dark Days leading into Dark Nights, and even the Dark Multiverse and Dark Matter to spin out of it. And before the thrill of DC's Rebirth had even worn off.
Plus there's the "huge, crazy, out of control lasers and dinosaurs" Snyder has promised for METAL... even if we can't figure out where they'll fit in, we'd be lying if we said we cared.