Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s multiverse-shattering event Dark Nights: Metal is raging through the entirety of the DC Universe. As the seven dark versions of Batman storm Earth -0, the world is becoming less and less of a recognizable place. Every city one of the Justice League members calls home has been attacked in some form or another, left destroyed, invaded or submerged. Times are more than dire, and our heroes are facing a losing battle.
It’s in The Flash #33 by Joshua Williamson and Howard Porter, the first chapter of the “Bats Out of Hell” storyline, where we witness the League’s fight against the Dark Knights, Barabatos’ minions. Scattered, Each Leaguer and a partner have their own mission in hopes of defeating these evil Batmen.
The Flash’s mission is simple: He is to aid Superman in creating a portal that will lead the Last Son of Krypton through the Phantom Zone and into the Dark Multiverse, something the Scarlet Speedster had no trouble doing. The challenge came afterwards, in holding the portal open for Superman to return, something that proved quite challenging once pair of evil Batmen — the Murder Machine and Devastator — showed up to interfere. Flash fell for their trap, and found himself transported back to the broken remnants of Star City.
Once there, it didn’t take long for the ground to give in from under Barry’s feet, taking him to a twisted version of the Batcave. But as he falls, thanks to his close proximity to the Dark Multiverse’s energy, Barry experiences visions — visions of different worlds, different realities, different events that never happened. Barry witnesses various versions of himself, mirror selves who, we have to assume, inhabit the Dark Multiverse. But what do these visions mean for the Flash?
The first vision Barry sees was of a reality where he was much older, almost filling a Jay Garrick-like capacity with a costume that seemed to borrow a lot from Jay. There, Barry is bearded and grizzled, his costume essentially a simple t-shirt that bears a Flash emblem — one very similar to the one seen in the first season of The CW’s The Flash television series. In this first vision, Barry holds a dying woman in his arms, one roughly the same age as him. The identity of this woman is more than likely Iris West, although we can’t be certain. All that we know is, she certainly meant a great deal to him.
The next vision appears to show Barry as a villain joining the ranks of the Rogues as the Reverse-Flash, welcomed to the team by Captain Cold’s firm handshake. Unmasked, this version of Reverse-Flash doesn’t have the white hair Eobard Thawne usually sports, but rather the blonde hair associated with Barry. This seems to indicate that, in whichever dark reality this vision hailed from, Barry Allen is the man under the yellow cowl. Does this mean that Thawne is that world’s version of the Flash? We don’t know, but we’d sure like to find out.
Next, Barry sees himself defeated, at the mercy of the speedster villain Godspeed, who was just recently introduced in the pages of The Flash: Rebirth. This, oddly, seems like a panel taken directly from the series, which begs the question, is this a vision of Barry own’s past, or another world where Godspeed finally got the upper hand on Barry and managed to finally kill his nemesis? Either way, it feels like there’s more of this story yet to be told, especially considering the fact that Godspeed was co-created by Williamson, the writer of this issue.
Of course, while Barry got a few glimpses of the past, it appears he may have also received a peek at a possible future. His fourth vision finds him crying over the dead bodies of both versions of Wally West, pre-Flashpoint and New 52, with all three characters wearing their current Rebirth costumes. While this could also simply be another reality, it’s possible Williamson is planting the seeds for future storylines, perhaps as soon as in the upcoming “Flash War” story arc.
Of course, none of these visions compare to the shockingly awesome panel showing an Anti-Monitor version of the Flash laying waste to the entire Multiverse. This Flash appears to be as gigantic as the Anti-Monitor, wearing an outfit that is almost the same as the ultimate force of evil in the DC Universe’s own costume, complete with blue armor plate and yellow tubing. The Flash emblem hints that this is very much Barry Allen who is smashing multiple Earths together, and is an alternate reality we’d love to learn more about.
Whatever reality he finds himself in, whether its in the past, a possible future or the Dark Multiverse, there is still a lot of ground for Barry Allen to cover. But first, he’ll have to come out of his fight with the evil Batmen alive.
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