Though he was one of the last evil Batmen from the Dark Multiverse to be introduced in DC Comics’ promotional material, at this point the Batman Who Laughs is the one we’ve seen in action the most. Following his arrival alongside his six twisted compatriots in the final pages of Dark Nights: Metal #2, the Joker/Batman hybrid quickly made his presence felt in Gotham City, in the pages of Teen Titans #12.
There, readers saw the character in action, as well as his cannibalistic cadre of Robins, including one Boy Terror in particular, who may well have his own DC Universe counterpart. However, while we’ve seen that this Batman does seem to enjoy stoking fear in his opponents in a similar fashion to the Joker, we have yet to learn how he came to be.
Enter Scott Snyder.
In an interview with CBR earlier this week, the writer not only discussed the events of the second issue of his and artist Greg Capullo’s Dark Nights: Metal, Snyder also shared the secret origins of several of the Dark Multiverse’s twisted Batmen: The Batman Who Laughs, The Murder Machine and The Red Death.
“The Batman Who Laughs is Bruce asking, ‘What if I killed the Joker and I found out that he has a toxin in his heart that essentially made whoever kills him the next Joker, and that’s why he’s always tried to get Batman to kill him?’ It’s one of the darkest stories that we could do,” Snyder told CBR, though he quickly assured there’s plenty more to the story to be told. “What happens then, what happens to the family, all of that is in [the] Batman: The Batman Who Laughs one-shot.”
And then, of course, we have the rest of the Dark Knights (which CBR has broken down individually, here). While we’ve seen the Dawnbreaker’s origin, which very closely mirrors Bruce Wayne’s own experience in Crime Alley as he saw his family be shot and murdered, details surrounding the rest have remained elusive. However, Snyder was happy to fill CBR in on two more of the evil characters’ origins.
“The Red Death is asking ‘What if there was a catastrophe in Gotham that I wasn’t fast enough to stop and I started experimenting with the Speed Force and it all went to hell?'” Snyder explained of the Flash-inspired Batman. “Murder Machine is looking at a world where Alfred passed away, so Bruce asks Cyborg to upload his consciousness into the Alfred Protocol, and the first thing the Alfred Protocol does when it comes online is kill every villain in Gotham like, ‘You’re welcome, sir!’ When the superheroes try and stop it, it kills them too, and absorbs Batman into it as an extension. So, yeah, each one of them actually has a really emotional story.”
Readers will learn about each of the evil Batmen in the months ahead, both within the pages of Dark Nights: Metal, as well as the event’s tie-ins. The first evil Batman-focused one-shot, featuring The Red Death, arrives in stores Sept. 20.
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