WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Dark Nights: METAL #4
The Electric Superman was as bad as ideas get - which is why DC just confirmed it's a nightmare from beyond the Multiverse. The joke comes courtesy of the METAL creative team spearheaded by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo. For those who haven't been reading DC's ongoing mega-event, the story thus far has centered on Batman, not Superman. The evil Batman doppelgangers from another world, in particular. But it's the Man of Steel who's found himself in the crosshairs of DC's latest shot, making the "nightmare" of the Electric Superman a new part of the canon.
The shot is taken in Dark Nights: METAL #4, the latest issue detailing the fall of Batman, Superman, and the rest of DC's greatest heroes. To get into the specifics of METAL's fiction would take a bit too much time, so we'll keep it simple. The bottom line? Batman just got a firsthand introduction to several versions of Superman from DC's Dark Multiverse. Men of Steel who should never have been born, created, or allowed to survive.
One of which looks awfully familiar to Superman fans of the 1990s...
When we say that METAL has seen heroes fall, we mean it. Bruce Wayne's pride ended up being the trap the villains needed to make Batman the key to the Multiverse's death. When his friends tried to seek him out, that too was a trap. Bruce was used as bait to capture Superman, so his superhuman physiology could be used to spread the Dark Multiverse's taint across all Creation.
In Issue #4, Superman's capture means Bruce can go free - weakened and aged from his own life being drained as part of the evil Batmen's machine. And setting him loose are the wrong, evil, corrupted, and deeply twisted versions of Superman spawned in the Dark Multiverse. Electric Superman included, as one of the "nightmares" that should have never seen the light of day.
It should be taken as a playful jab at DC's attempt to 'update' Superman starting in 1997, removing his Kryptonian powers and making him an electrical superhero. It wasn't the only case of controversial reboots or redesigns of the time, but just as quickly as Superman donned his electrical-containment-uniform, DC sought to erase it from continuity. Snyder and Capullo have left no story or corner of DC history unaddressed in METAL so far, so Electric Superman should be no exception.
The appearance is a brief one, which means the nightmare Supermen - not just electric, but the ones who apparently claimed Lex Luthor and the Dark Knight's armor for themselves - may be a small treat for fans in the know. Not to worry, though: the Batman who became Joker and killed everyone is still plenty entertaining, along with the Doomsday Batman who killed Superman. And considering where Issue #4 ends, DC fans may completely forget that the Electric Superman is DC canon once again... as a nightmare too evil to speak of.
Dark Nights: METAL #4 is available now.