WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Dark Nights: Metal #2, by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, on sale now from DC Comics.
DC Comics' Dark Nights: Metal #2 is crammed full with big moments, but the biggest by far is reserved in the issue's final pages, with the arrival of evil Batmen from the Dark Multiverse.
First teased in June, these Dark Knights are corrupted versions of Batman from that shadow dimension. In Dark Nights: Metal #2, by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, these evil Batmen are summoned into the DC Universe by the Court of Owls and the Strigydae through a ritual known as the "mantling," first referenced last year in Batman #51.
The Caped Crusader disappears, and in his place opens a portal to the Dark Multiverse, through which appears first a trio of cannibalistic green-haired Robins, and then the seven evil Batmen, backed by the bat-god Barbatos, whose DC Comics history can be traced back to the 1990 story arc "Dark Night, Dark City."
But who, or what, are these evil Batmen? We know that each of them is Bruce Wayne, in some demented form, merged with someone, or something, else. When Barbatos bellows to Superman and Wonder Woman, "You want Bruce Wayne? Look around," each of these creatures from the Dark Multiverse responds, "I'm right here." What does that mean, though?
The full answers will arrive beginning next week, with the first of seven one-shots centering on each of these Batmen. "Those Dark Knights one-shots? I’m so proud of them and what those teams have done," Snyder told CBR. "Each one is about one of Batman’s nightmares about going too far."
So, who are these nightmares, these Dark Knights?
Although the initial silhouette teaser released in June suggested otherwise, The Drowned appears to be the sole female figure among the evil Batmen. As hinted by the Aquaman logo superimposed over that first image, she's a malevolent combination of Batman and DC's Sea King; her depictions in Metal #2 and on the cover of Batman: The Drowned #1 underscore steampunk elements, combining 16th- or 17th-century clothing with retro-futuristic accessories.
The Drowned be featured in her own one-shot, by writer Dan Abnett and artist Philip Tan, arriving Oct. 18.
Under ordinary circumstances, a hellish combination of Batman and Doomsday, the genetically engineered Kryptonian monster that killed Superman, would be the most frightening character in any comic. However, Metal #2 has not only the bat-god Barbatos but also the Batman Who Laughs and his four chained man-eating Robins. That's difficult to beat, but The Devastator comes close.
He'll get his moment in the sun, or rather the post-apocalyptic haze, on Nov. 1 in Batman: The Devastator #1 by writer Frank Tieri and artist Tony S. Daniel.
The Murder Machine
With names like The Drowned and The Devastator, there's at least some room for ambiguity, but that's not the case with The Murder Machine; the malevolence is right there on the tin: Murder Machine.
"Murder Machine is looking at a world where Alfred passed away, so Bruce asks Cyborg to upload his consciousness into the Alfred Protocol," Snyder explained, "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."
Batman: The Murder Machine #1, written by Frank Tieri and illustrated by Riccardo Federici, goes on sale Sept. 27.