TALES FROM THE DARK MULTIVERSE BATMAN KNIGHTFALL #1
Story: Scott Snyder & Kyle Higgins
Artist: Javier Fernandez
Colorist: Alex Guimarães
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Cover: Lee Weeks & Brad Anderson
Song: Fall by Eminem
“There could be shadow galaxies, shadow stars, and even shadow people.”
You don’t need to be a physicist to understand the base concept of the multiverse. If you’ve been reading comics that involve crises or incursions, you understand the concept. A parallel universe that exists outside of our own, an alternate reality where different outcomes and decisions make a literal whole world of difference. In the DC Comics, 52 different Universes exist, each with their own corresponding version of the superheroes we know and love, all the bit as mighty, just different. That whole concept was turned on it’s ear when Dark Nights: Metal happened and it was revealed that a separate set of 52 universes exist and the consequences of the actions in those realities took turns for the worst.
This story reminds us what made us all so excited of the Metal event and they were the dark and twisted versions of the Batman. We all were in awe at the origins stories of these perverted versions of our Caped Crusader and how compelling they were. For as deeply disturbed as they were, there still remained some part of the Batman’s Justice.
This issue starts off in a Watcher-like monologue as Tempus Fuginaut, a being tasked with protecting Prime Earth from the Dark Multiverse, foresees a coming Crisis (yet another in. A long line of DC crises) explains to us his understanding of a different Earth and a different Gotham.
Back in the 90’s, a pivotal moment occurred in Batman’s illustrious and LONG history: KNIGHTFALL. Bane had broken in to the Bat Cave and managed to do what no other villain had been able to: BREAK. THE. BAT. With Bruce Wayne recovering from the paralyzed fate that Bane set upon him, Bruce chose a temporary successor to don the Cowl in his absence, Jean-Paul Valley B.K.A. Azrael of the Order of Saint Dumas. While fighting crime in the guise of the original Batman, Valley realizes that Bruce’s Method on fighting criminals was obsolete. He had become a more brutal and unforgiving Knight and had little disregard for collateral damage in the form of bystanders and innocents. Add that to the fact that the man is delusional, suffering from brainwash-induced hallucinations of his father (his predecessor) and also Saint Dumas himself. After Bruce recovers from his injuries, he decides to take back the cowl and reclaim the identity. The Original Batman beats Jean-Paul, forgives him (because if you’re being brainwashed it’s not your fault, duh), and even gives him some dough to do some digging on his origin and the Order of Saint Dumas. That’s how the story went in the DC Universe we’re used to reading about. But the Dark Multiverse is not this earth and at the conclusion of Knightfall, it wasn’t Bruce who came out victorious. It was Jean-Paul who won and who, after 30 years as the self proclaimed “Saint Batman,” turned Gotham in to a vigilante-police state. I am not trying to give too much of the actual story away, just know that it’s absolutely twisted.
This story is just as dark as the title implies and it’s ending even darker still. Snyder and Higgins have set the tone and if these one-shots continue to be as good as this one, the Tales of the Dark Multiverse has potential to build an insane hype behind whatever Crisis DC has planned for us in the coming months. The following titles to follow this issue are going to be (not in this order) Infinite Crisis, The Death of Superman, Blackest Night, and The Judas Contract. Those particular events already being heavy, it’s going to be interesting to see how one moment’s outcome can make all the difference in the fate of the DC Universe.