The veil of mystery has been lifted off of DC's coming Dark Multiverse, the new twist on the comic mythology sending an army of evil Batman doppelgangers to destroy the world in METAL. The massive, universe-encompassing event is the brainchild of writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo, but it's taking an army of DC writer and artists to cover its impact in the rest of the DCU. Now that the nature and fiction of the Dark Multiverse, and the "nightmare Batmen" - and Batwoman - have been revealed, it's clear just how bad things will get for Bruce Wayne.
Fortunately, it will be a fantastic ride for fans. During a press event at San Diego Comic-Con, Scott Snyder was on hand to describe the upcoming METAL as a story he had always hoped to tell. One that asked the question: "What if there was a mystery that Batman finally did not want to get to the end of?" Those who've read the prologue issues of Dark Days know it's already too late for Batman to turn back. He's already been seen by the evil Batmen of the Dark Multiverse. Now, we know their names and their faces.
Snyder set the stage for the reveal of these "nightmare Batmen," explaining that the name wasn't just figurative, but literal. With Bruce Wayne seeing through the veil of this universe and into the horrible one beyond in Dark Days, his worst fears are coming to meet him:
"Without giving too much away, if the Multiverse is the set, sentient, hard, reality, the Dark Multiverse is almost like the Subconscious... So anything you're afraid of or you hope for materializes. It's roiling, it's very different than the Multiverse. It's all fluid, isotopic, it's very violent and volatile. So when you're afraid of something it appears. And should somebody go down there and collect all of your worst nightmares about what might happen to you, or who you might become if things go wrong - this is that.
"These are almost Bruce Wayne's worst nightmares of what could happen to him should he have gone wrong in different ways along his whole tenure as Batman."
Different ways, and ones fueled by otherworldly powers and forces, judging by the resulting "nightmares." Take a look at the Dark Knights for yourselves:
Official teases prior to this full reveal offered the names of these Bat-nightmares, and the images help shed more light on their origins. From left to right, the Murder Machine seems like a powered-up, New God-esque design (Cyborg or Apokolips, take your pick). The Red Death is an obvious combination with the Speed Force, and the Devastator is... what you'd expect when mixing Batman with Doomsday. The armored Merciless may look familiar to fans of the Wonder Woman movie, but we'll get there in a moment. And while the Green Lantern-esque Dawnbreaker remains a mystery, the version of Batman blended with Atlantis - dubbed the Drowned - will draw the most speculation, since the nightmare Batman appears to be a Batwoman.
It isn't just METAL that will see these villains invade our universe, with each of them getting their own one-shot origin story. After which comes a four-issue crossover where this 'first wave' of the Dark Multiverse wreaks havoc on the Justice League. And if it looks like the perfect build-up to one insane battle, Snyder promises it won't disappoint:
"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."
That last comment at least suggests that the Merciless holds the powers of Ares himself, having stolen them from the God of War. Did Bruce go too far in trying to permanently stop conflict among humanity? We think Wonder Woman is the perfect person to show him the error of his ways.
Snyder went on to reinforce his enthusiasm with the excitement of the creators affected by his villain crossover: though he offered to seek other writers so as not to heap more work on the writers of Aquaman, Batman, Detective Comics, The Flash, and more, they all joined in, helping him to create these nightmare reflections of their respective heroes.
And yet, Snyder promises that if readers simply wish to read the main, six issue METAL series, they won't be missing a beat. But who's going to pass up seeing these Batmen in action? Especially their leader, The Batman Who Laughs - the one Snyder isn't revealing just yet, for... obvious reasons.
Dark Nights: METAL begins on August 16, 2017.