If you ask any diehard DC Comics fan which superhero appears in the most titles, there's a pretty good chance their number one answer will be Batman. There's a reason the Dark Knight appears across his own family of titles, along with a few ensemble and event books as well, making his presence felt throughout the DC Universe.
While the majority of these appearances are by the original Bruce Wayne version of the hero, the number of people putting on the cape and cowl and calling themselves Batman has skyrocketed in recent months. Along with the heroic Batman, there are currently three future Batmen, an evil Batman imitator, and an army from the Dark Multiverse, all vying for the top spot as the Caped Crusader. And this doesn't take into account previous characters to take on the hero's cowl, such as Nightwing and Azrael.
So, what prompted the sudden influx of Batmen? The easy answer is the hero's popularity. Much like Spider-Man at Marvel, Batman regularly shows up in comics, TV, animation and featured films, to the point where one could sometimes question whether DC has plans to promote other superheroes from its vast catalog. However, the fact remains that fans are drawn to Batman, and DC is wise to capitalize on the demand for the character. Consider it giving the people what they want.
Now, let's take a closer look at the various Batmen currently starring in different DC story arcs and events.
The Standard Bearer
One could be forgiven if they assumed there were multiple clones of Bruce Wayne parading around the DC Universe. At the moment, he's a featured player in the following titles: Batman, Detective Comics, Justice League, Justice League of America, Trinity and the event series Dark Nights: Metal, with All-Star Batman having just come to a close last year. As a member of DC's Trinity alongside Superman and Wonder Woman, Batman is one of the rare examples of a powerless superhero being more feared and respected than his god-like companions.
Writer Scott Snyder guided Batman through some of his toughest challenges after the start of the New 52, but Rebirth brought with it a new voice to the Batman title in Tom King. In his first year and a half helming the character, King and a murderers' row of top-level artists have introduced new supporting characters like Gotham and Gotham Girl, a reunion with his father during the Batman/Flash crossover "The Button," and the most shocking development being Bruce's engagement to Catwoman. Not to be outdone, Snyder currently has Batman as the focal point of Metal, with his longtime collaborator Greg Capullo, an event we'll return to a little bit later in our Batmen rundown.