7 Dark Knights: The Story Of Bruce Wayne’s Greatest Nightmares

Batman’s mission to stop crime has taken to him dark places, yet he’s always managed to stop himself from crossing the line. The idea of a Batman without limitations is a scary thought and there are versions of the Caped Crusader who hold nothing back. During Dark Nights: Metal, seven evil versions of Bruce Wayne appeared in the main DC Universe. All of them are reflections of Bruce’s nightmares and I’m going to look into he story of each one to see what made them change.

Red Death

The Bruce Wayne of Earth – 52 had lost everyone he loved: his parents, his Robins and his city. Bruce believed tht if he could buy himself more time then he could save Gotham. He reached out to Barry Allen so he could use the Speed Force to go back in time and save his family. Naturally, Flash thought it was too dangerous. Batman attacked and captured him, using Flash’s connection to the Speed Force with repurposed technology from the Cosmic Treadmill.

Bruce and Barry ended up fused together into a nightmarish amalgamation called the Red Death. Bruce wiped out crime in Gotham, using the Speed Force to kill everyone that stood in his way.

Murder Machine

The Batman of Earth – 44 was motivated by the loss of Alfred. With the help of Cyborg, he decided to build an AI version of Alfred so he could be close to his father figure. However, the AI went out of control, slaughtering Gotham’s underworld. Cyborg urged Bruce to shut the system down, yet Bruce refused because he believed he could fix ‘Alfred.’

The AI system overwhelmed Bruce and took over his mind. He became an emotionless android called the Murder Machine, feeling that humanity needed to be wiped out.

Dawn Breaker

Dawn Breaker is a teenage version of Bruce from Earth – 32 and his powers are based on Green Lantern. After witnessing the murder of his parents, Bruce’s willpower attracted a Green Lantern ring. Yet his pain was so great it overwhelmed the ring and he used it to kill Joe Chill and other criminals.

Eventually, the Green Lantern Corps grew tired of Bruce’s mistreatment of their values and tried to bring him down. Bruce activated his Blackout ability, destroying the Green Lanterns and taking the power battery for himself. Dawn Breaker’s motivations stem from wiping out hope and bathing the world in darkness. His personal motto is:

“With darkness black, I choke the light, no brightest day escapes my sight. I turn the dawn to midnight! Beware my power – Dawn Breaker’s might!”

The Drowned

Bryce Wayne came from Earth – 11, a world in which she lost the love of her life Sylvester Kyle. Haunted by the loss, Bryce hunted down and killed every metahuman she could find. When the Atlanteans arrived, Bryce launched an assault against them. She experimented on herself with Atlantean DNA, giving her the ability to fight them on equal terms. She also engineered an army called the Dead Water to help her win the war.

After conquering Atlantis, Bryce set up a Bat beacon that was meant to be seen as a symbol of hope in the water. Bryce’s hatred for Atlanteans put her at odds with Aquaman and Mera.

The Merciless

The Batman and Wonder Woman of Earth – 12 were in a relationship when Ares created a helmet that allowed him to take over the world. During the final battle, Diana took a mortal blow, which motivated Batman to seize the helmet for himself. The power corrupted him so much that he was willing to kill Diana so she couldn’t stop him from using it.

This version of Bruce was motivated by a lust for war and taking his crusade to the next level. He came to believe that mercy was weakness and strength came from a warrior’s willingness to kill.

The Devastator

The Batman of Earth – 1 found himself fighting against a corrupted Superman. To stop the Man of Steel, Bruce injected himself with a strain of the Doomsday Virus. It turned him into a monstrous creature and allowed him to kill Superman. Motivated by his hatred for Clark, the Devastator infected Metropolis City with the Doomsday virus because he wanted the people to be safe from Superman.

The Devastator’s logic may be flawed, but it’s understandable. He came from a world where his friend betrayed everything he believed in.

The Batman Who Laughs

What happens when Bruce Wayne turns into everything he fought against? You get the Batman Who Laughs. The Batman of Earth – 22 killed Joker after the Clown Prince of Crime went too far. Bruce snapped Joker’s neck, though a toxin was released that changed Batman’s brain chemistry.

Within five days, Bruce had gunned down Nightwing, Batgirl, Red Hood and Red Robin. A week later, the Batman Who Laughs forced Superman to rip his wife and son apart through Black Kryptonite. The Batman Who Laughs combines the depravity of Joker with the intelligence of Bruce Wayne, creating a terrifying character.

To see the stories of these Dark Knights unfold, be sure to read my review of Dark Knights Rising.

Author: thecomicvault

Short story writer, comic geek and cosplayer hailing from Manchester, England. Find my pop culture ramblings on The Comic Vault.

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