SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Batman: The Red Death #1 by Joshua Williamson and Carmine Di Giandomenico, on sale now.
As seen in Dark Nights: Metal, the Dark Knights (with a "K") have made their way from the Dark Multiverse into the DC Universe. Batman: Red Death #1, by Joshua Williamson and Carmine Di Giandomenico, provided the first detailed look at one of these mysterious figures; the origin of the Dark Knight patterned after Batman and The Flash is presented here, meaning that readers are given their first peek inside the Dark Multiverse itself.
Or is this actually a second look? Something about the Batman who becomes the Red Death seems awfully familiar...
That Unshaven Psychopath Dressed As Batman Looks Familiar
At first blush, the one-shot takes place on a world that looks relatively familiar – Central City looks normal enough, or as normal enough as a city inhabiting a world on the verge of destruction, complete with Crisis-red skies, can look. But instead of saving his city, Flash finds himself engaged in battle, oddly enough, with Batman. While The Flash seems to behave like his usual recognizable self, Batman has taken on a decidedly obsessive and psychotic persona – one that carries a distinct familiarity of its own. As Batman demands that Flash give him access to the Speed Force in order to allow him to travel back in time and save his parents, readers are reminded of an especially dark and violent take on the character that they saw a decade or so ago – he isn't just Batman, he's the goddamn Batman.
That's right – the Batman of Earth -52 (yes, that's a negative sign, not a hyphen) is displaying the same over-the-top and dangerous bravado that was exuded by the main character in Frank Miller and Jim Lee's oft-maligned All-Star Batman and Robin, The Boy Wonder, the notable but panned 10-issue, out-of-continuity series that abruptly ended in 2008. If any one element is remembered from that series, it's that neo-classic tagline Bruce growled at a traumatized Dick Grayson shortly after his parents' murder. At the time, many fans objected to Miller's noticeably mean-spirited and excessively violent take on the character, feeling that the Dark Knight had been made a little too dark. But those behaviors almost perfectly align to those observed here, as punctuated by Batman's ultimate claiming of the Speed Force and sacrificing The Flash in the process, emerging from the Speed Force as a character amalgamation calling itself The Red Death.