Breaking Bat1 of 12
This week's Batman #50 is the culmination of DC's long-running Batan/Catwoman marriage story-arc. And in honor of Catwoman, a one-time arch-enemy of Batman going good, we're looking back on the times Batman went bad.
From bouts with mind control, to alternate universes, drug addiction, and beyond, there are plenty of things that have driven Batman just over the edge from vigilante to villain over the years.
Gotham City Garage2 of 12
Gotham City Garage is a recent series set in an alternate DC Universe where a cataclysmic event left Gotham City the last civilization standing. In this version of Gotham – rebuilt as “the Garden” – Batman is a Judge Dredd-like enforcer carrying out the will of the city’s leader, Lex Luthor.
Batman: Venom3 of 12
In “Venom,” a 90s story arc from Legends of the Dark Knight, Batman becomes addicted to a strength-enhancing drug – the titular “venom” – after failing to rescue a young girl due to his physical limitations.
Of course, as these kind of “hero on drugs” stories tend to go, Batman quickly spiraled into addiction and began taking on crime in a, shall we say, much more ruthless fashion.
But if there’s one thing Batman is good at, it’s overcoming any obstacle simply through sheer determination – and that’s what happened in “Venom.” Locking himself away for a month, Batman kicked his habit cold turkey and regained the reins just in time to take down a growing criminal conspiracy.
As for Venom itself, the drug went on to be the secret ingredient behind Bane, the man who broke Batman’s back.
Super/Bat4 of 12
What if Batman had all of Superman’s powers? That’s the question at the heart of “Super/Bat”, a 2009 story from Batman/Superman in which Batman absorbs Superman’s power, and Superman becomes a normal human.
If you think that Batman would become potentially the most effective hero ever, you’re sort of right – but there’s a catch. It turns out, if Batman doesn’t have to eat, sleep, or ever stop fighting crime, he loses his connection to humanity and gets just a little bit of a god-complex.
In “Super/Bat”, Batman’s newfound power eventually leads him to move down an increasingly violent path where he starts to see himself as the necessary protector of the whole world. Fortunately, in the end, Zatanna and Superman found the magic key to restoring Superman’s power – though both he and Clark admit they miss aspects of their respective changes.
Titans Tomorrow5 of 12
Though he’s often considered the greatest Robin of the mainstream DC Universe, in an alternate timeline Tim Drake is one of the worst Batmen.
In the story “Titans Tomorrow” the Teen Titans confront future versions of themselves who come from a timeline much darker than their own. These adult Titans were much more violent and villainous than the mainstream Titans – including their Tim Drake who had graduated to being Batman.
But the ravages of this Tim’s timeline had taken their toll on him, with Bruce Wayne having perished in an unspecified Crisis, and an increasingly harsh world leading Tim and his squad of Titans to begin killing their enemies without mercy.
Eventually, after being bested by his heroic younger self, the older Tim gave up on his Batman identity becoming a gun-toting, time-traveling vigilante calling himself Savior.
Red Rain6 of 12
Batman as a vampire is kind of a no-brainer, and starting with Batman & Dracula: Red Rain writer Doug Moench and artist Kelley Jones kicked off a trilogy of stories exploring that simple idea.
The big twist in Red Rain, however, is that even though Batman beats Dracula (and yes – it’s awesome) he becomes a vampire himself.
Following that pivotal moment, Vampire Batman’s adventures got increasingly crazier, including encounters with Joker’s vampire gang, a werecat version of Catwoman, and more.
Of course, in the end Batman running around drinking blood and killing people wasn’t sustainable (even for the Caped Crusader himself) and following Alfred’s death, he decided the best outcome for himself was to simply walk into the sun and be destroyed.
I, Joker7 of 12
I, Joker takes place in a future world where Batman, the Joker, and others are viewed as figures of myth and ceremonies to turn willing tributes into the living reflection of these past figures.
So in a world where people violently compete to become Batman, have plastic surgery to look like Two-Face, and an enigmatic figure named 'The Bruce' is in charge of the whole process, you can imagine that the person who gets to be Batman isn’t always the best choice.
Weirdly, the hero of the story is actually its version of the Joker, who winds up overthrowing the Batman cult – despite dying in the process.
The Cult8 of 12
Batman and religious cults never mix well (see our entry on I, Joker) – and nowhere is that more true than in Batman: The Cult - a four part story from Jim Starlin and Bernie Wrightson actually set in contemporary continuity.
In The Cult, Batman is brainwashed by the malevolent Deacon Blackfire through an extended period of captivity, after which he aids Blackfire in killing small-time criminals to harvest their blood for his dark rituals.
Fortunately, Jason Todd (who was Robin at the time) managed to track down his mentor and help wrest him from Blackfire’s clutches, with the Dynamic Duo then taking down the crazed cult leader.
Batzarro9 of 12
You am not know Batzarro? Me am so very sad to introduce you to worst crimefighter of Bizarroworld.
Batzarro is the reverse Batman equivalent of Bizarro World, a cube-shaped planet that, in some versions of continuity, is the home of Superman’s backwards doppelganger Bizarro and an entire world of opposite-style DC heroes.
Batzarro is just the tip of the iceberg – there’s also the cowardly Yellow Lantern, an Aquaman who can’t swim, and so on. But as the “World’s Worst Detective,” he’s a perfect version of a Batman gone bad – even if it’s in his sideways nature.
Black Lantern10 of 12
When every dead person in the DC Universe suddenly rose from the grave thanks to the cosmic embodiment of death itself, even poor Bruce Wayne (who was believed dead at the time, with a cloned decoy corpse in his grave – long story) was denied the peace that only eternal slumber can bring.
Black Lantern Batman (or the weird clone Batman – again, long story) became a kind of conduit for the power of the Black Lanterns, distributing Black Lantern rings to many dead heroes and rallying them around the dark power of the villainous Nekron and Black Hand.
The Black Lanterns were eventually defeated, and the real Bruce Wayne returned – a course of events that, strangely enough, wound up with Batman later wielding the life-giving power of the White Ring.
Dark Nights: Metal11 of 12
The Dark Multiverse is a recent addition to the DC Universe, but it’s already had a huge impact on Batman’s place in reality.
For one thing, it turns out the Dark Multiverse (kind of a resting place for unsatisfactory alternate Earths) is chock full of evil, twisted reflections of Batman that reflect many of his Justice League counterparts – and even a Batman/Joker hybrid called The Batman Who Laughs.
The Dark Multiverse Batmen aren’t all Bruce Wayne, but they share common threads of inspiration with the Dark Knight – and with the other halves of their twisted equations Flash, Green Lantern, Doomsday, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, Aquaman, and the Joker.
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