With how popular Batman is, it shouldn’t be a surprise that DC has continually created dark mirror after dark mirror for Batman. Characters like Prometheus, Wrath, and Hush were all created with the exact purpose of being a dark Batman, and it seems DC is finally committing even further to this concept after revealing the name of the next dark version of Batman: the Batman Below.
Comics creator Christian Ward is bringing a brand new dark Batman to readers in his highly anticipated Batman: City of Madness Black Label book that promises to show off a twisted eldritch version of Batman now known as The Batman Below.
Batman is undoubtedly one of DC’s most popular characters. Because of this, the publisher never has a problem returning to the Dark Knight over and over again for new stories and takes on the character — and those new stories almost always need new threats. There are so many Anti-Batmen in the DC Universe that people have compiled entire power rankings for them. The Batman Below, a Lovecraftian version of Batman, now joins those ranks.
Batman: City of Madness is an alternate-universe story of the Court of Owls accidentally opening the gateway between Gotham City and the Gotham Below. Ward has given readers a brief description of Gotham Below as a twisted, dark version of Gotham, created due to the fear and anger of citizens trickling down into the darkness. Every person living in Gotham has a shadowy reflection in the Gotham Below — including the heroes and villains. Describing the Batman Below in an interview with Looper, Ward says that “the character that’s in the book called the Batman Below — who’s this version of Batman that has come out of the abyss — the first time I drew him was in 2021, with these Cthulhu-like tentacles coming out of his mouth.”
The most compelling part of Batman: City of Madness is its fresh take on a horror version of Batman. While comic readers are well-acquainted with the idea of an evil Batman, “evil” might not be the exact right word to describe the Batman Below. While characters like the Batman Who Laughs were born of Batman’s fears, it’s possible that characters such as the Batman Below are born of the fears of Gotham City itself. Not everyone in Gotham supports Batman; some people might view him as a monster or a menace, especially considering how Batman often tries to paint himself as an urban legend. Urban legends, of course, inherently lend themselves to the horror genre. Not only does Ward promise a cosmic horror version of Batman — something readers have not seen before — but this twisted Batman might not be born of Bruce’s own fears. Instead, the Batman Below will be shaped by the fear of both the criminals and the citizens of Gotham itself.
What Batman ultimately stands for is hope, but, in order to fight criminals, he presents himself as a symbol of fear. When criminals and citizens all view Batman as a horrifying monster, it’s interesting to consider what kind of monster might be born from those combined fears in the so-called Gotham Below. Ward promises to explore the thrilling — and terrifying — possibilities in Batman: City of Madness, which hits stands on October 10th from DC Comics.
The Batman Below is finally named. Read More