SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Dark Nights: Metal #6 by Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion, FCO Plascencia and Steve Wands, on sale now.
Barbatos has won, The Dark Knights are triumphant, Superman and Batman are missing and the Justice League lies defeated. Hope has seemingly died for the DC Universe and indeed the entire Multiverse.
However, there is a ray of hope coming from beyond The Bleed, as The Flash, Cyborg and Raven have been traveling the Multiverse with the help of the denizens of the 53rd universe. Now they're back, and they’ve brought help. What do you do when the world is overridden by evil Batmen from a Dark Multiverse? Get some good Batmen to even the odds.
House of Heroes
We last saw The Ultima Thule in Dark Knights Rising: The Wild Hunt, and while it seemed like the heroes were doomed, the Primate Legion of the 53rd universe intervened and saved them. Just when they’re needed most, the Ultima Thule returns to the Prime Earth, bringing reinforcements in the form of the Batmen of many worlds who keep Barbatos busy while Wonder Wonder works on rescuing Superman and Batman.
Just like much of Dark Nights: Metal, the scene is a fun nod to Grant Morrison, JG Jones and Doug Mahnke’s Final Crisis. In the finale to that epic event, the Supermen of the Multiverse arrive to save the day, defeating Mandrakk the Dark Monitor, including recognizable faces such as Apollo, Mr. Majestic, Red Son Superman, Sunshine Superman and more. That moment is homaged in Dark Nights: Metal #6, but while the arrival of multiple Supermen inspires hope, the arrival of multiple Batman inspires a feeling more along the lines of, “You’re $#£%ed!”
Batmen Of The Multiverse
Each of the Batmen of the Multiverse come from classic DC Comics stories under the Elseworlds banner. There’s the Soviet Batman who comes from Mark Millar and Dave Johnson’s Superman: Red Son, designated Earth-30; the vampire Batman from Doug Moench and Kelley Jones’ Batman: Red Rain trilogy, designated Earth-43; and the Victorian Batman from Brian Augustyn, Mike Mignola and P. Craig Russell’s Gotham By Gaslight, which is designated Earth-19 in the Multiverse.
What’s really interesting is who is leading the pack. Unmistakably, it’s the grizzled Batman from Frank Miller and Lynn Varley’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, recognized as one of the greatest Batman stories of all time. DC has been playing with a number of properties many fans consider sacred, such as Watchmen, Sandman and Promethea, so it shouldn’t be so surprising that Miller’s Batman makes an appearance in the main DC Universe -- except that Miller’s world of stories doesn’t exist in the current DC Multiverse.
It did post-52, and was even designated as Earth-31. But The Multiversity Guidebook confirmed that the current world designated Earth-31 is home to Leatherwing and the pirate incarnations of the Justice League. It’s possible that Miller’s world exists on one of the seven uncategorized worlds, but it’s just as likely that just as Earth-53 wasn’t known until recently, the character’s existence and appearance here is further evidence of a much larger Multiversal structure.
In the epilogue, Batman notes that the World Forge is active once again creating new worlds and universes and the multiversal heroes are repairing the House of Heroes and getting it ready for “the new worlds that may rise to meet it”, meaning the Multiverse is once again a place of infinite possibilities, but in many ways it always was. The DC Multiverse is full of surprises and Dark Nights: Metal proved that just when you think you understand it, it’ll throw a giant curveball at you. The rules have changed again and it wouldn’t be too surprising to see these Batmen again in the near future.