Elseworlds: Our Parents' Dark Multiverse Comics
After all, the Dark Multiverse is called "dark" for a reason – what’s been seen of it so far includes several incarnations of Batman that clearly aren't patterned after the Adam West TV show. In Batman: The Red Death, Batman even sacrifices The Flash to physically join forms with him solely to have access to the powers of the Speedforce. And even before that, the supposedly heroic Batman is noticeably unhinged – The Dark Knight has clearly been consumed by darkness, rather than merely cloaking himself in it. 20 years ago, in fact, Batman: The Red Death would have looked right at home with the "Elseworlds" logo slapped on its cover.
Conversely, had the Dark Multiverse been a thing back in the day, these "Elseworlds" stories, and many others, would have seemed right at home there. Just as Gotham by Gaslight and Red Son have been retroactively given a home in the DC Multiverse, why can't, couldn't, or shouldn't the same treatment be given to some of these other, darker stories, and given a formal place at the table of DC continuity? At worst, what harm is there in doing so? Surely there's room in the Dark Multiverse for an incarnation of Lex Luthor enduring some S&M at the hands of Granny Goodness – it's not like such a scenario has been an enduring plotline anywhere else.
Stories That Shouldn't Exist Belong In A Multiverse That Shouldn't, Either
Whether these stories ever get assigned their own numbered Earth (negatively numbered, mind you), these and other stories walk, talk, and breathe just like a Dark Multiverse story. In Batman: The Red Death, the Batman Who Laughs references worlds "that shouldn't exist" and describes the Dark Multiverse as a "home to stories that should never be" – which certainly evokes the whole can't/couldn't/shouldn't motto. One altered decision, one twist of fate, one nail in the road – all are the stuff that "Elseworlds" tales have been made of, and are now the same elements that are laying the foundation for the Dark Multiverse.
For years, the whole "Elseworlds" concept worked just fine as laid out, as independently created stories intended to explore unfamiliar realities for familiar characters. But now again armed with a multiverse and eager to use it, DC couldn't resist the temptation to compartmentalize some of these stories into a larger whole, and there they sit, should there ever be a need for Steampunk Batman to have a plausible face-to-face with Communist Superman, outside of an action figure display. If these prominent and beloved alternate stories can stand to be shoehorned into a bigger reality, then there's no reason to stop with the "Light" Multiverse.
Because we've all been reading Dark Multiverse stories for years – we just didn't realize it.