WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Batman #45 by Tom King and Tony S. Daniel, in stores now.
Alan Moore may not have written many DC Universe-based stories, but what few he did script have become longtime classics that still manage to have an effect in modern comics. It happened with his and Dave Gibbons' popular Watchmen characters, who are now at the center of Doomsday Clock; it also happened with his Green Lantern work, which gave us the first mention of the Blackest Night Prophecy. Now, it appears as if it has happened once more, with one of his iconic Superman stories seemingly influencing the latest story featuring the Dark Knight.
In Tom King and Tony S. Daniel's Batman #45, readers are plunged into an alternate DC world that is a far cry from the one they are familiar with. Hal Jordan turns his Green Lantern ring on himself, a murderous Dick Grayson is under the Batman cowl, Jokers are everywhere -- and Bruce Wayne wants nothings to do with the life of a superhero.
It's a different world, and one that was wholly created by Booster Gold. Why? Because, he was inspired by the story depicted in Alan Moore's Superman tale, "For The Man Who Has Everything."
"For The Man Who Has Everything" was a self-contained story featured in 1985's Superman Annual #11 by Moore, Gibbons and Tom Ziuko. It saw Batman, Robin and Wonder Woman travel to the Fortress of Solitude to celebrate Superman's birthday. Only, when they arrived, they discovered that the Kryptonian was under the effects of an alien plant called the Black Mercy. A parasitic alien life form, the Black Mercy traps its victim in its tendrils, latches itself onto the person's chest, and feeds off of their energy while plunging them in the dream of their perfect life.
Superman's perfect life was one in which his home planet Krypton was never destroyed, where he was married and had a son. But even this life proved to have some cracks in its foundations. Krypton wasn't the perfect place Superman wished it to be and, before long, he realized that the life he was living was a lie. He pushed through it, and managed to come back to reality with the help of his friends.
In Batman #45, we learn that this is a story that Superman and Batman tell often -- often enough that Booster Gold remembers it. Better yet, he was inspired by it, and by the insight Superman got from the ordeal. Since Bruce Wayne is getting married, Booster, in his own very Booster way, decides that the best gift he could give the Dark Knight is the same kind of insight Superman was given. By showing Bruce a world where his parents had lived, yes, but where everything else was much different, and much bleaker.
Booster Gold may not have gotten hold of a Black Mercy, but the spirit and the themes of "For The Man Who Has Everything" make a firm return. Unlike Moore and Gibbons' classic tale, however, the events of this story are not only DC canon, they might just prove to have catastrophic consequences.