WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS up to Gotham City Garage Chapter 14
In a world without Superman, society is doomed to fall... and take Batman with it. That's the case being made in Gotham City Garage, the DC Comics series putting a post-apocalypse/cyberpunk spin on its biggest heroes and heroines. But unlike other "Elseworld" stories that explore the possible nightmare futures of the DC Universe, Garage imagines a nightmare present. One terrorized by a new Batman fans may not recognize at all.
The series has primarily focused on the women of the DC Universe, with Supergirl reimagined as Jim Gordon's daughter, and a band of femme fatales keeping the American wasteland free from Lex Luthor's control. The Metropolis billionaire was introduced early on as the ruler of America's last city - and master of Batman, his fascist enforcer.
A hard pill to swallow for fans of the Dark Knight (especially when Bruce kills Jim Gordon to start the series). But now that this new Batman's origin story has been revealed, the fascist fantasy is more faithful than it may seem.
When the ladies get the upper hand on The Bat - thanks to some help from Wonder Woman - and snap him out of Lex Luthor's techno-psychic control, he's still not the Bruce Wayne fans know. But as he recites the path that led him to his current villain position, the writing by Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing actually rings true to Bruce's character and unwillingness to surrender. Bruce wouldn't need to change that much to become the murderous, uncompromising attack dog of Lex Luthor... assuming that the Earth was scorched into oblivion, and Superman never showed up to save it.
Bruce's transformation from regular human to a force of nature still begins in Crime Alley, between the bodies of his parents. But in the alternate past of Gotham City Garage, that was the very same night that Earth was struck by the global catastrophe responsible for its Mad Max look. It's not yet been made perfectly clear what caused "The Worldburn" that forged Bruce into The Bat, but it transformed the world into the trial of survival that Bruce typically has to seek out and adopt in his Batman training.
In this version of DC history Bruce sharpened and honed himself just to stay alive in what remained of Gotham.
By the time Lex Luthor arrived to begin his efforts to turn Gotham into The Garden, a shielded "last city," Bruce had become the exact thing needed to keep the city and its people in line. It may still be painful to watch Bruce obey the commands of an aging Lex Luthor, but if nothing else, Gotham City Garage proves yet again that Superman was the missing ingredient in Batman's most noble, heroic form.
Most of the time fans could argue that without Superman's optimism and friendship, Batman would have grown too hard, too cynical, or too extreme. Add in a world that requires those very traits to survive, and you've got the villain of Gotham City Garage (one of them, at least). Thankfully, there's still the other part of DC's famous trinity around to knock his teeth in.
Fans interested in reading this adventure for themselves can do so by picking up physical collected copies of Gotham City Garage #7 on January 10th, or read this Digital First series digitally, with new issues releasing every week. If seeking this story out through digital services, the tale of The Bat's origin can be found in Gotham City Garage Chapter 14.
Gotham City Garage #7 arrives January 10, 2018.