The Bad-Man1 of 12
Batman is an inspirational figure. He’s drafted countless heroes into his cause, directly inspiring more than a few of them to follow in his footsteps. But there’s a dark side to the Dark Knight – to some, he's could be seen as a villain.
That's the case with the new Detective Comics #1000 villain, the Arkham Knight.
In honor of this mysterious new menace, we’re counting down the top Anti-Batmen – the villains that fashioned themselves as Batman’s true opposite number.
The Grim Knight2 of 12
With just one 'small' tweak, Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV created one of the most vicious anti-Batmen of all time with Grim Knight.
Just ask yourself, "What if young Bruce Wayne shot back when his parents were murdered in Crime Alley?" With that thought, Snyder and Tynion went full bore into a dramatically different alt-universe Batman borne out of the Dark Multiverse.
If young Bruce would shoot to kill but still had his parents to avenge and honor, imagine what he would do once he grew up and into the Batman mantle - and could fully access those Wayne riches.
Originally created for 2017's Dark Nights: Metal, the Grim Knight didn't debut until 2019's Batman Who Laughs limited series as the right-hand man of that Jokerized-Batman (more on him later). But a Batman who kills makes for a killer, albiet arresting, Batman.
Wrath 13 of 12
The original version of the Wrath was introduced at DC in Batman Special #1, created by Mike W. Barr and Michael Golden. The villainous character's origin was similar to that of Bruce Wayne because his parents were also killed when he was a boy, although instead of being rich-upstanding citizens, they were thieves. However, Wrath's parents were shot when they were not committing a crime, by a young police officer named Jim Gordon. When the Wrath became an adult, he had trained as an assassin and returned to kill then-Commissioner Gordon for his mistake. Thanks to Batman's protection, Gordon lived, and by the end of the Special, The Wrath had been killed.
Thanks to a retcon in 2008, though, the character was seen again in a Batman Confidential story by Tony Bedard and Rags Morales. This time around, Gordon's shooting of the parents was done in self-defense.
The Confidential story also included a sort of "Anti-Robin": a young villain whom the original Wrath trained to become the new Wrath. Named Elliot Caldwell, this second Wrath confronts Batman about the killing, but ends up in Blackgate Penitentiary by the end of the story.
A new version of Wrath appeared in the "New 52," commanding a whole army of versions of his sidekick, Scorn.
The Batman Who Laughs4 of 12
Dark Nights: Metal added some big new wrinkles to the DC Universe, and no one was affected more than Batman, whose very presence in the multiverse was revealed to have influenced hosts of dark reflections of himself throughout time and space.
And the darkest of these is the Batman Who Laughs, a Joker-ized version of Bruce Wayne driven to bizarre and violent crime by tragedy at the hands of the Clown Prince of Crime.
Since his introduction in Metal, BWL has spun-off into his own series - with its own spin-off focused on the Grim Knight.
Red Hood5 of 12
When the killed-in-action Robin named Jason Todd first returned from the dead, he functioned as a sort of anti-Batman because he utilized the training of Batman to target the hero, while also attempting to prove that his more brutal way of cleaning Gotham’s streets was better than Batman’s methods.
He went farther into his role when Bruce Wayne apparently died, even recruiting a "Robin" of his own, and marketing himself as the hero Gotham needed.
While he was more of an anti-hero in his original return, the Red Hood now serves as an almost straight-up hero in the relaunched DCU, starring in multiple iterations of Red Hood & The Outlaws (now called Red Hood: Outlaw).
Prometheus6 of 12
There have been a few characters named Prometheus in DC Comics history, but the one that could best be called an "anti-Batman" was the one created by Grant Morrison in 1998. Just like Bruce Wayne, the character lost his wealthy parents, then traveled throughout the world to develop his skills as a fighter. He also similarly used his parents’ wealth to develop technology for fighting. But unlike Batman, this character’s parents were thieves and were killed by police (sound familiar, Wrath fans?), so his vengeance is against justice. While he was a JLA villain in his first incarnation, he was later used by several writers throughout the DCU.
Catman7 of 12
Created as a supervillain and arch-rival of Batman back in 1963, Catman has a costume that mimics Batman’s except the ears are a bit more, well, cat-ish. A burglar by trade (like Catwoman), the character was originally an evil counterpart of Batman’s in Gotham City, but he never really took off as a villainous threat. However, he later became a popular antihero (and was less associated with Batman) thanks to a revival and revamp in the Gail Simone comic book Secret Six.
Thomas Wayne, Jr.8 of 12
"New 52" continuity had its own sort of “anti-Batman,” as well as being a pseudo-Owlman, although he doesn’t technically carry that name.
A leader in the Court of Owls, the villain specifically targeted Batman because he claims to be Thomas Wayne Jr., the believed-to-be-dead brother of Bruce Wayne. He sought revenge against his brother because he had allegedly been sickly, and thus locked away into the Willowwood Home for Children by his parents, while Bruce had been coddled in a mansion.
His identity was never confirmed nor disproved before he disappeared in an explosion at the end of the story. He later resurfaced, under his alter ego Lincoln March, as the criminal mastermind at the heart of the year-long weekly series Batman Eternal.
Killer Moth9 of 12
Killer Moth is a little silly - the pink and green striped tights don't help - but he might just be the very first "anti-Batman."
Billing himself as the "Batman of Crime," Killer Moth had a garish costume, moth-themed gadgets, and even a Moth-Cave and Moth-Mobile.
Later versions of the character strayed from this path, but Killer Moth's original gimmick was giving Gotham's criminals a device by which to signal him if they ran into Batman, at which point Killer Moth would show up and save them from the Caped Crusader.
Of course, that plan fell apart when it became dreadfully apparent that Killer Moth was in no way capable of kicking Batman's ass.
The pre-Crisis Killer Moth did swing one major victory though - he actually unmasked Batman and learned his secret identity. He was killed by his fellow criminals before being able to capitalize on his knowledge, however (he's since had a few modern revivals).
Hush10 of 12
Created in 2003, Hush was more of an opposite of Bruce Wayne than Batman, but the character is worth a mention here because he's a recent, popular villain with a similar background as Bruce Wayne, but has a personal vendetta against Batman. Incidentally, he's also been teased in the Arkham universe.
The villain's identity was kept hidden by bandages across his face for much of his introductory story, but he ended up being Tommy Elliot, a childhood friend of Bruce Wayne who was also born into a wealthy family.
Owlman11 of 12
The original Owlman was the evil counterpart of Batman in the Crime Syndicate of America, a group of villains from Earth-3 where history was "reversed." Created in 1964 in a story in Justice League of America, the character has been utilized ever since by DC writers as an "anti-Batman," in various incarnations. One of the more recent appearances of an Earth-3 Owlman took place during multiverse-spanning The Search for Ray Palmer: Crime Society and Countdown, a character who had an "anti-Robin" type sidekick called Talon.
This Owlman joined the "New 52" alongside the rest of the Crime Syndicate as a villain team from Earth-3 who took over the world in the pages of Forever Evil. He is the Anti-Batman from the team of Anti-Justice League, and takes our top spot.
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