The latest epic Batman-centric event to take DC Comics by storm is Dark Nights: Metal – created by legendary Bat-talents Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo – and it’s introduced fans to what some are calling the Evil League of Batmen (a concept that sounds terrifying without any context). The group – which includes names like The Red Death, The Murder Machine, The Dawnbreaker, and The Batman Who Laughs, along with other evil versions of Batman – has now invaded the DC Universe, and that’s not a good thing for its citizens. After all, the Dark Knight was already terrifying enough when he was just one, singular, justice-obsessed vigilante.
While Dark Nights: Metal is, at its core, a Batman story, it’s also a Justice League tale, and that’s reflected in the Evil League of Batmen. Each of the group’s members appears to be a dark reflection of Bruce Wayne combined with the abilities of some other DC Comics heroes and even the best Batman villains. This is definitely Batman as we’ve never seen him before, and the world of DC Comics may never be the same.
Dark Nights: Metal
Dark Nights: Metal is the culmination of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s long collaborative run at DC Comics, and it builds on a number of Batman-centric events that they’ve helmed over the years. In other words, Metal is about the “dark multiverse” of the DC Universe – a reality made up of twisted and horrific reflections of the mainstream continuity.
The most noteworthy citizens of the dark multiverse are the League of Evil Batmen, each of them a version of Bruce Wayne. They somehow manipulate the real Bruce Wayne into creating a portal that lets them into the regular multiverse, and their invasion soon impacts the entirety of DC’s stable of heroes.
The Batman Who Laughs
Arguably the most terrifying member of Batman’s gallery of dark reflections is the Batman Who Laughs, a combination of Batman and his greatest enemy, The Joker. The Batman Who Laughs is covered head-to-toe in black leather, with only his horrific mouth visible, He’s also constantly accompanied by a group of twisted Robins on chain leashes.
According to Scott Snyder, the Batman Who Laughs comes from a world where Batman kills The Joker and then “found out that he has a toxin in his heart that essentially made whoever kills him the next Joker, and that’s why he’s always tried to get Batman to kill him.”
The Batman Who Laughs has been seen giving mysterious metallurgic cards to some of Batman’s greatest rogues, which grants them the ability to warp reality to their whims. They use this to warp Gotham City into a veritable gauntlet for Batman’s allies to fight their way through, with The Batman Who Laughs waiting at its center.
The Destroyer is the League of Evil Batman’s answer to Superman, but it isn’t just a Kryptonian version of Batman. Instead, The Destroyer is a combination of Bruce Wayne and Doomsday, the horrific monster most famous for once killing the Man of Steel.
This appears to be the result of self-experimentation by a version of Wayne that sought to eliminate the gap in ability between himself and Superman. The Destroyer also has the ability to transform freely between his human and Kryptonian forms, like some twisted version of the Hulk.
The Red Death
The Red Death is an ominously-named character who has all the intelligence and skill of the Batman combined with the speed of The Flash. Coming from a world where he wasn't quick enough to protect Gotham City from tragedy, this version of Bruce Wayne conducted an experiment that involved strapping The Flash to the hood of a chrono-fitted Batmobile and driving until the Speedforce was transferred from Barry Allen to a colder, ruthless Batman.