SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for Justice League #32 and Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #32.
Following a killer run on Wonder Woman with Greg Rucka, Liam Sharp pitched DC Comics an idea for a new series, one that's rumored to feature Princess Diana of Themyscira, as well as Batman. And while no official word has been given regarding Sharp's mystery series, DC did tap the acclaimed artist to illustrate two issues of "Bats Out of Hell," a tie-in crossover arc connected to the mega hit Dark Nights: Metal event by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo.
"Bats Out of Hell" kicked off last week in The Flash #33 and continues this week in Justice League #32, which is drawn by Sharp and written by New York Times bestselling writer Robert Venditti. The story then spills into next week's Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #32, which again features words by Venditti and art by Sharp. "Bats Out of Hell" concludes on November 15 with the release of Justice League #33, by Bryan Hitch and Tyler Kirkham.
CBR connected with Sharp and Venditti to discuss the seven Dark Knights of the Dark Multiverse, and their ongoing invasion of the DC Universe.
CBR: Batman has always protected Gotham City, and his weapon of choice is often fear. That makes the idea of Batman as a genuine monster even scarier, and to make matters worse for the Justice League, Dark Nights: Metal and the "Bats out of Hell" crossover gives us seven Batman bad guys. Does it get any scarier?
Robert Venditti: No, I don't think so.
I've been hearing things about Metal for quite a long time now. Scott Snyder has done so much with the character and has had such a fantastic run with him, and yes, it is a scary prospect. You've already seen some of the Dark Knights roll out, in the series, in the one-shots and this crossover, but I can tell you some of the stuff that's coming up is even scarier. The Batman Who Laughs is probably as scary as it gets. It's a perfect marriage, because what Scott has really leaned into is this aspect of fear, and the horror elements that are possible in a Batman story. To have a chance to work on that kind of stuff and do some things with Batman that hasn't really been done with the character before – basically creating nightmare versions of Batman filtered through the Justice League – has been a ton of fun and, obviously, isn't an opportunity that doesn't come around very often.
Liam Sharp: It was funny -- I had actually pitched the series that I am now working on (which I am not allowed to talk about but will be able to talk about in a few weeks, I believe) and I was getting pretty excited about. Then I heard about this huge Metal thing. I thought I would just be perfect for it, but I couldn't really complain because I had my own thing, but then I got the call about doing this Justice League issue and they were like, "You've got time before we get to your thing." And I was like, "Hell, yeah!" I wasn't going to turn that down. It sounded like the most exciting thing, and it was right up my stream. I heard somewhere along the line that Dark Nights: Metal had been pitched as if it was written and drawn to a heavy metal soundtrack, and that's just me in all senses. [Laughs]
I was absolutely thrilled to be a part of the whole Metal thing and as you say, the notion of a bunch of evil Batmen independently mirroring Bruce and everything that he is with the added powers of all of the members of the Justice League, how much worse can it get? How much more terrifying can you get? I was absolutely thrilled to be doing this and then when I saw Rob's script, I was like, "What have I got myself into?" [Laughs]
An evil Superman or an even Wonder Woman would be a pretty major shift for those superheroes in terms of characterization, but is an evil Batman really that big of a stretch?
Venditti: I think it is. We talked a lot about the fear and horror aspects of the character, but Batman is also very hopeful. Through the Dark Knights, we are looking at all of the many ways that Batman could have easily gone very, very, very wrong, but instead he stays right. That speaks a lot about Batman. Obviously, visually, Superman and Wonder Woman would look much farther removed from darkness because Batman has always been drawn in the shadows and he's kind of a scary guy to begin with. He's never flying with the sun over his shoulder. But I think it is shocking to see him these evil versions of himself because, again, there is something about his character that is very hopeful. He has the fortitude and the moral compass because as we have seen time and time again in all of these years of reading Batman stories, he has never gone that route. In some sense, I find that very hopeful and inspirational.
Sharp: I completely agree with Rob. It's definitely fascinating to see what could have been a natural way for Batman to go. And as Rob said, the fact that he doesn't go that way in the DC Universe that we're most familiar with is a testament to that character.