Over the past several weeks, readers have been learning all about the evil incarnations of Batman that have risen from the Dark Multiverse to lay waste to the DC Universe as part of Dark Nights: Metal. The event, shepherded by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, has already led to a number of off-shoots and spinoffs, the most fascinating of which may very well be the one-shots that offer answers to the questions we have about new characters like the Red Death, the Dawnbreaker, the Murder Machine, and the Merciless.
This week’s latest installment in the series of evil Batmen one-shots, Batman: The Devastator, comes from the creative team of Frank Tieri, James Tynion and Tony S. Daniel. As the title says, the story focuses on the creature known as the Devastator, the equivalent of Superman in Metal‘s Dark Justice League formed of evil Bruce Waynes.
The issue takes place moments after the events of Dark Nights: Metal #3, after our Superman has just taken the leap from his reality to the Dark Multiverse thanks to the help of the Flash and the Anti-Monitor’s cosmic tuning fork. At Barbatos’ behest, Devastator’s task is to retrieve the tuning fork for his master to use. But as he does so, a flashback takes us to the Earth -1, to show us this particular twisted version of Batman’s origin — an origin story that is actually quite familiar.
The flashback takes place a number of years ago, throwing the reader right into the thick of a battle. Batman, armed with a Kryptonite spear, is taking his desperate fight to a Superman who cannot be stopped, controlled or reasoned with. For reasons even this Batman appears not to know or understand, Superman had turned against his friends and the people of Earth, the people he had sworn to protect. The resulting battle resembles the titular fight of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. As you might recall, the movie depicted an intense battle between the two superheroes, with the Dark Knight hoping to use a spear made of Kryptonite to bring an end to the Last Son of Krypton — a fight he almost won, were if not for the mention of a particular name.
While the comic book’s fight between the two heroes is quite similar to the one from the movie, it takes a much different turn. Before either character has a chance to utter the name “Martha,” Superman severes Bruce’s arm. This prompts Batman to recognize that he has no choice but to inject himself with the dangerous and infectious Doomsday virus, which turns whomever it infects into no more than a beast… and a murderer. The resulting fight very much reads like the Batman v. Superman brawl between the Man of Steel and Doomsday, something that was no doubt meant to emulate and honor the big screen confrontation. And while this Superman doesn’t die as a result of being stabbed with the Kryptonite spear, he, too, meets his end due to a rather violent impalement.
In that way, it’s possible to see Batman: The Devastator as an Elserworlds-type of twist on the film, with a darker, much more gruesome conclusion to the fight — one that ends not with heroes bonding over the fact that their mothers share the same name, but with death… and devastation, pun completely intended.
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