Spoilers ahead for Dark Nights: Metal #1.
Among the mysteries presented in Dark Nights: Metal #1 is one that echoes a biblical theme and promises a story of betrayal from both the present and the past: the Judas Tribe.
August 16's Dark Nights: Metal #1 marked the beginning of a six-issue event series by writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo, the fan-favorite creative team of the "New 52" era Batman. Spanning over several tie-in series and special one-shots, the story is bringing together concepts and characters from throughout the DCU.
With their reunion, the two have set into motion a story about the mysterious 'Dark Multiverse' where the evil creature Barbatos awaits and nightmare possibilities can apparently come true.
Among all the concepts being introduced in Metal - many of which Newsarama has been examining in our series, Dark Nights: Metal 101 - is a brief mention in two different publications of a "Judas."
The first mention of a "Judas" came in one of Metal's prequel one-shots, an issue that Snyder co-wrote with frequent collaborator James Tynion IV and which came out in July.
Dark Days: The Casting #1 featured a couple different stories running at the same time - one surrounding the Batcave and Batman, and another following Hawkman's history as written in his journal.
In the journal story, Hawkman tells the story of his investigation of Nth Metal, the mysterious element that gave he and his wife powers and the ability to be reincarnated over and over again.
During his investigation, he explored caves to find secrets about the "arrival of the strange metal that would change everything." Drawings on cave walls shared legends of tribes and a beast that were connected somehow to Nth Metal.
And here's where readers first heard about the "Judas" from the past.
Thousands of years ago, The Casting said, Nth Metal was brought to this world by a tear in the fabric of reality. Along with the metal came a demon - one we can now assume is the same "Barbatos" mentioned in Metal.
The caves also "spoke of the Hawk Tribe," according to Hawkman's journal. (This tribe was later called the "tribe of the Birds," and it's connected somehow to Hawkman.)
The drawings also "spoke of the betrayal by the Judas of the birds…who sided with the demon."
Eventually, the demon (who took the "sigil of the bat") was sent back to its dark world (and as we now know, it's planning a return in Metal).
But for the purpose of this examination, somewhere in the bat creature's story at the dawn of time, there was a betrayal by someone that Hawkman called "Judas" - someone who turned from being loyal to the "birds" to siding with the "bat."
Referring to a betrayer as a "Judas" is a term taken from the Christian Bible, where one of the 12 apostles to Jesus Christ betrayed him. The traitor was named Judas.
In Dark Nights: Metal #1, readers were once again told about a "Judas," but this time it indicated something happening present-day.
In particular, it referred to the idea that Bruce Wayne is going to act as a vessel for the creature Barbatos. The story indicated that Barbatos has "been after" Batman "all these years" because he is a "wagon" for the dark creature. (And language suggests Barbatos has been targeting Batman since the creature saw him during the aftermath of Final Crisis.)
But then Metal #1 says this:
"And if Wayne has been prepared by the Judas Tribe, if the agents of Barbatos have set in motion its coming…then there will be no running for him."
There is no explanation of the "Judas Tribe."
However, we can take a guess. Back at the end of Dark Days: The Casting, a group was shown that indicated they had "prepared" Batman. Located 3,000 miles below Gotham City, the hooded figures wore skulls on their faces and were pleased to see the "seal" to the Dark Multiverse was broken.
These figures are probably the "bat tribe" that has been insinuated, or the "followers" of Barbatos that were mentioned by Kendra Saunders.
But they may also be known as the "Judas Tribe."
Or maybe the "Judas Tribe" that prepared Batman is something else. Someone from the Bat-family? Some other surprise that Scott Snyder has up his sleeve?
And who betrayed the Hawk Tribe during pre-history, turning to serve the bat? Is it connected to the mysterious connection between Hawkman and the Wayne's? Or is it something to do with Hath-Set, Hawkman's arch nemesis who has been mentioned as an "emissary of the same dark forces?"