With the introduction of the Dark Multiverse in Dark Nights: Metal that is currently being explored in the Tales from the Dark Multiverse series of one-shots, fans have seen a number on incredibly dark alternate timelines and realities where our favorite heroes have taken a wrong turn that has set their world on a dangerous path.
The Justice League has witnessed quite a few dark timelines over the years, whether due to multiversal events like the Crisis, visitors from dark futures, or alternate timelines created by something as simple as a nail in the road that could drastically alter history. Today we are going to take a closer look at a few of the DC Universe's darkest timelines that have shown us the worst of the Justice League.
10 RED SON
While Superman: Red Son was primarily focused on the soviet Superman who had been raised in Communist Russia, the series from Mark Millar and Dave Johnson featured the various members of the Justice League in new roles as the events of the Cold War and world history were greatly altered due to the appearance of the soviet Superman.
Wonder Woman worked closely with Superman as he extended his Big Brother-like rule over most of the world, though the U.S. continued to fight back with their Green Lantern Air Force, while the vigilante known to fans as Batmankoff took the fight to Superman in their homeland. Red Son featured a dark timeline that ended up peaceful eventually, thanks to Lex Luthor, of all people.
9 TITANS TOMORROW
While the corrupted heroes of the future that first appeared in the "Titans Tomorrow" storyline were technically the Titans of the future and not the Justice League, characters like Conner Kent/Superboy, Tim Drake/ Robin, and Cassie Sandsmark/Wonder Girl had all grown up and taken over the identities of their predecessors Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman.
Unfortunately, this version of the team had been corrupted by Dark Raven and turned their half of the country into a police state. They also happily used violent torture methods during interrogations and had eliminated most of their enemies, with Tim/Batman using the gun that killed Bruce Wayne's parents to kill most of Gotham City's villains.
While the Injustice: Gods Among Us universe was first introduced by the video game, a tie-in comic series took on a life of its own as it explored a world where Superman had been driven past his breaking point due to the death of Lois, his unborn child, and the destruction of Metropolis, all at his hands.
Superman killed the Joker, who had manipulated him into killing his family and city, and then reorganized the League into his Regime as he took over the world as its superpowered and unforgiving leader. Batman organized his own League as the Insurgency against Superman's rule, making this one of the darkest JL timelines we've ever seen.
7 DESTINY'S HAND
We're cheating a bit with the inclusion of the "Destiny's Hand" timeline, as it was technically created in a dream world by Dr. Destiny in the mind of the Atom. With that being said, that timeline differs from the mainstream DC Universe by taking Atom's Justice League line-up in a dark direction after the government asks them to take more control in the policing of the country.
Soon enough the Justice League has turned into a fascist team that rules with an iron fist, and the event showcased the darkness some characters fell into easily, like Hawkman or Green Lantern, who was actually President of the United States in this timeline. Thankfully this dream world was wiped out before it replaced the current timeline.
6 ROCK OF AGES
Most of Grant Morrison and Howard Porter's "Rock of Ages" storyline in JLA featured Lex Luthor's Injustice Gang as they attempted a"hostile corporate takeover" of the Justice League using the power of the Philosopher Stone. After the Stone was destroyed, a dark timeline unfolded.
Darkseid was able to use the Anti-Life Equation to take over the Earth, killing or turning the League into robotic slaves. The time-lost minds of some of the Justice League trapped in the minds of their future bodies, aided by the wartorn survivors of Darkseid's takeover, were able to travel back in time to stop the "Rock of Ages" timeline.
5 ARMAGEDDON 2001
The Armageddon 2001 series/event introduced a dark possible future that featured a world without superheroes, ruled over by the despotic character known only as Monarch. The Justice League and other heroes of the DC universe had been wiped out by a mysterious villain in the year 2001, leading to the dystopian future of 2030 where Monarch rules.
The actual event itself is a bit of a mess, as the mystery of the Monarch that had earlier been revealed to be a former DC hero turned bad was leaked to fans, spoiling the reveal. So editors decided to pull a last-minute switch of the characters behind the mask of Monarch, which may have ruined the event but doesn't detract from the dark future they were thankfully able to avoid.
The Earth-X timeline, now known as Earth-10 in the new DC Multiverse, initially diverged from the main DC Universe in one crucial way, as the Nazi's won World War II and took over the world, which had no superheroes. In most pre-New 52 stories in this timeline, the Freedom Fighters from Earth-Two migrated to Earth-X to serve as the only opposition to the Nazi-controlled forces.
This timeline was further connected to the DC universe by reimagining the members of the Justice League as they would have existed in the Axis-led world. Kal-El's rocket now landed in Germany and as Overman, he was integral to the Nazi victory of WWII. He would form the New Reichsmen with Leatherwing, Brünhilde, Blitzen, and Underwaterman.
Barry Allen/Flash was responsible for the Flashpoint event, which saw a new timeline form after he went back in time to prevent his mother's death. That one small action led to multiple sweeping changes that created a much darker DC Universe.
The absence of Superman, Thomas Wayne as the Batman, and the ongoing war between Aquaman's Atlanteans and Wonder Woman's Themyscirians were some of the biggest Flashpoint changes. If Barry hadn't been able to fix the timeline, the entire world would have been destroyed by a Doomsday device. As it was, the New 52 universe was created instead, which was allegedly better.
2 BLOOD LEAGUE
This world was first introduced in the Elseworlds tale Batman & Dracula: Red Rain, which pitted the Dark Knight Detective up against the Lord of the Vampires. The result of the confrontation left Batman infected with vampirism and led to the sequels Bloodstorm and Crimson Mist, which further explored the ramifications of an undead Batman with a thirst for blood.
While we haven't seen much of the so-called Blood League that exists on Earth-43 in the reborn Multiverse, it was clearly inspired by Batman's vampiric turn in the Red Rain trilogy and is undoubtedly one of the darkest possible DC timelines out there that we hope to see explored more in the future beyond their appearance in The Multiversity.
1 FUTURES END
The New 52: Futures End was a weekly series that took place in two different futures of the rebooted New 52 universe. The majority of the story occurred five years in the future of the present-day storylines, but it was the future set thirty years past that time that introduced the darkest timeline.
Futures End featured a world taken over by the Brother Eye satellite, which had captured and corrupted heroes by merging them with technology and creating cyborg slaves. Brother Eye even merged Joker and Batman together to create a dangerous, albeit extremely troubled, killing machine. This future wasn't fully prevented and still casts a dark shadow over the present-day.