WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for The Immortal Men #1, by James Tynion IV, Jim Lee, Ryan Benjamin and more, on sale now.
Dark Nights: Metal ended with the heroes pulling the Earth out of the Dark Multiverse and defeating the invading forces. However, it also left a lot of things unresolved. Barbatos was chained up, the Dark Multiverse hasn't gone anywhere, and the Batman Who Laughs suffered an uncertain fate. The Immortal Men #1 debuted this week, and it revealed the true fate of the evil Batman and, despite everything, the Batman Who Laughs survived.
As you will remember in Metal #6, Batman confronted the Batman Who Laughs in order to save the Overmonitor from being used as the weapon to destroy the DC Multiverse. The evil Batman proved to be too much, but the Dark Knight received a little help from the most unlikely of allies, the Joker. As Batman saved the Overmonitor, the Joker fought the Batman Who Laughs until the cave toppled onto them. Neither characters were seen again in the event, leaving their fates ambiguous.
A villain as cool as he was never going to be a one-off, though. DC's June solicitations previously revealed that the Batman Who Laughs would be on the cover of The Immortal Men #3. The book's synopsis revealed that he would be manipulating events from behind the scenes, but how, exactly, was unknown until now, when he made his grand entrance in the first issue.
The book starts off with the titular team's headquarters already having been decimated by an attack. It is revealed that the villains known as The Hunt and The Infinity Woman—Infinity Man's previously unrevealed sister—are responsible for the elimination of thousands of immortals. In this moment, the Batman Who Laughs, with his Jokerized Robins, reveals himself.
While there is no direct reference of the events of Metal, or how he survived, it is clear that he plans to stir the pot a bit now that he's on Earth. The Batman Who Laughs reflects on how a secret race of immortals should be leading society instead of hiding in the shadows. This is his way of giving the Infinity Woman and the Hunt the push they need to do what is needed to claim power. Whatever he did to provide that push, though, is left ambiguous.
It would seem that the Batman Who Laughs doesn't have any singular plan (yet), and is mainly looking to cause as much havoc as possible. He may have previously answered to Barbatos, but this evil Batman always seemed different from the other Dark Knights. While they saw themselves as heroes looking to save their dying worlds, the Batman Who Laughs was clearly a manipulative villain from the very beginning.
It's unclear why this is where the evil Batman has resurfaced first, but the stage is set for him to reappear throughout the DC Universe in the near future. If he's looking to topple the DCU's institutions, he has a lot of work ahead of himself. In the meantime, the Batman Who Laughs and his minions still have plenty on their plate in The Immortal Men.
Not all the Immortal Men were wiped out. Ghost Fist, Reload, Stray and Timber survived, and they are out to locate Caden Park, a kid who was previously targeted as a potential immortal. The villains know who they are attempting to recruit too, so it looks like they will all converge on this one target. Judging by upcoming solicitations, the Batman Who Laughs might want Caden for a specific reason.
Many of Metal's story beats will carry over into Justice League: No Justice and DC's three new Justice League titles, but the next adventures of the Batman Who Laughs will be seen and felt in The Immortal Men.