SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Dark Nights: Metal #6 by Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion, FCO Plascencia and Steve Wands.
If there’s one word that sums up Dark Nights: Metal more than any other, it has to be "unpredictable." Just when you think you’ve pinned down where Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo and company are going with it, the creative team veers into a whole other direction. The series is great at sidestepping what you think you want, opting instead to give you what you didn’t know you wanted, and the grand finale gives us moments like that in spades.
But while Dark Nights: Metal #6 is filled with those kind of moments, there’s perhaps no more surprising development than Batman’s final fight with his dark doppelganger, The Batman Who Laughs, as the real Dark Knight teams up with the last person you’d expect to take down Barbatos’ general.
For a story centered around various inter-dimensional Batmen, the Batman we know and love has been out of action for most of the event. He was abducted into the Dark Multiverse at the climax of the second issue, where' he's remained for the duration of the series, working with Superman to head further into the World Forge and find a weapon capable of defeating Barbatos and his Dark Knights. This week, Batman and Superman return from the Dark Multiverse, and the one, true Batman finally faces off against the Batman of Earth -1, the sadistic Bruce Wayne infected with the blood of The Joker -- The Batman Who Laughs.
The Batman Who Laughs’ plan is full-on DC Comics in the very best way. Using the anti-matter energy of The Anti-Monitor’s astral brain, the positive matter energy of The Over-Monitor — the original Monitor from Crisis on Infinite Earths — and his own dark energy from the Dark Multiverse, The Batman Who Laughs plans to remove Earth Prime from its place in the Orrery of Worlds. With only Batman to stop him, The Batman Who Laughs easily outmatches the hero as the killing edge of The Joker proves to be that missing x-factor allowing him to defeat his more heroic counterpart. However, help comes in the form of the most unlikely ally as The Joker (armed with a pair of custom made Batman-themed straight razors) saves Batman by shooting The Batman Who Laughs through the shoulder with a classic gag “BANG” flag.
While The Batman Who Laughs assumes Joker is there to kill two Batmen, The Joker is someone that really hates an imitator, and an imitator who’s also Batman, well -- that’s too much to pass up. Batman and The Joker team-up to take on The Batman Who Laughs, proving that while the Dark Multiverse's insane Bruce Wayne can prepare for everything, he never anticipated a situation where Batman would team-up with his most deadly foe in order to stop him. The unexpected dynamic duo manage to stop The Batman Who Laughs from activating his final plan, although Batman insists that the pair never speak of this one-time team-up once it’s over.
As the cave begins to collapse, Batman escapes with The Over-Monitor, leaving The Joker and The Batman Who Laughs to duke it out, and we already know both characters will be coming back. The Joker is scheduled to interfere in Batman and Catwoman’s wedding in the coming months, while The Batman Who Laughs can be found in the June solicits for James Tynion IV and Ryan Benjamin’s The Immortal Men #3.
Dark Nights: Metal may be over but its influence will be felt throughout the DC Universe line for years to come and The Batman Who Laughs’ survival of this event will likely plague the heroes of the DCU for a long, long time.