Saturday 3 November 2018

This December, Something Wicked This Way Comes...To The DC Multiverse!

It is now three days after Halloween, and literally just a day after the anniversary of Helena Wayne's historic debut as the Huntress in All-Star Comics #69 on 02 November 1977. A story Mark and I happily covered for both the Halloween season and her anniversary on the same week.

We now get to talk about another story of a more ghoulish nature for the upcoming Holiday season. An upcoming sequel of sorts to the epic multiversal adventure, Dark Nights Metal, that not only follows up on Bruce Wayne's journey to the Dark Multiverse, but reacquaints him with the normal DC Multiverse. The upcoming Batman Who Laughs miniseries by Metal writer Scott Snyder and his Wytches and Batman collaborator, Jock.

The solicitation for The Batman Who Laughs alone is already pretty enticing. It's once again revisiting the DC Multiverse, one of my favourite aspects of DCU lore. The solicitation for the first issue reads as follows:

“A Batman who laughs is a Batman who always wins.” 
Left rattled by the events of DARK NIGHTS: METAL, Bruce Wayne must come face to face with the nightmares spawned from the Dark Multiverse. But even though evil devoured evil in the collapse of Challengers Mountain, the Dark Knight still has his doubts. He discovers that the Batman Who Laughs not only survived the fight with The Joker at the end of METAL, but now he is enacting a sinister plan across the Multiverse—something both terrifying and oddly familiar. But when Bruce Wayne realizes the only way to stop this madman is to kill him, he must consider violating the very rule Batman won’t break…the same rule that created this insatiable villain—the Batman Who Laughs!

We saw how the Batman's life panned out across the doomed Earths of the Dark Multiverse during the events of Dark Nights Metal, and we also saw glimpses of his canonical former lives, including that of his original Golden Age incarnation, aka the version of him who married Catwoman and fathered the Huntress.

Even prior to Metal, we saw glimpses of the original DC Multiverse teased in the Deathwing story arc of Nightwing where Dick Grayson encountered one of his former foes as Batman, Dr. Simon Hurt. While under the spell of Dr. Hurt, Dick also saw glimpses of his former lives, including that of the original Golden Age Robin.

In a more recent interview with Den of Geek, Scott Snyder revealed more details about his upcoming miniseries, including what other versions of himself Batman can expect to meet, such as the Punisher-type Grim Knight. One detail from Snyder's interview in particular really stood out to me:

"The story starts with Bruce tracking down the smuggling ring, and they're smuggling things in these heavy load trucks, with these kinds of compartments that sort of sit beneath the truck. He's following one that's carrying houses and people are pushing houses off and trying to stop him. He's busting through the houses on his Batcycle. I love it, it's so fun. 
He opens up the compartment and he sees a dead Bruce Wayne. This Bruce Wayne is ten years older than him, has lived a different life, was married to Selina, had a kid with Selina," Snyder reveals. "He has to autopsy himself and discover the clues as to whose back and he realizes very quickly it's the Batman Who Laughs."

Snyder's tease certainly has my attention. If Bruce is rediscovering for the umpteenth time that there is a version of himself who married Selina and fathered a child with her, could this mean a future return of Helena Wayne as the Huntress? If so, which version of her?

Depending on the version of Earth-2 Bruce the Earth-0 counterpart discovers in that compartment, one of two things could end up happening: either this follows up on the New 52 fate of the Earth-2 Batman who was killed in the Apokolips War (effectively linking that event to the Batman Who Laughs' plan), or it could follow up on the fate of the pre-Crisis original who was killed by Bill Jensen, effectively linking Earth-2's fate in Crisis on Infinite Earths to Dark Nights Metal.

Of course, both versions could simply just turn out to be divergent histories for the same Bruce Wayne as a consequence of constant multiversal retooling by cosmic entities--a theme that was explored in-depth in Dark Nights Metal. For all we know, it could turn out to be just one Bruce Wayne from one Earth-2 who married one Selina Kyle and fathered one Helena Wayne.

The question is if the Batman Who Laughs played a vital role in the fate of the Earth-2 Bruce Wayne in both of his lives, could this mean that he is now a part of Helena Wayne's origin as the Huntress, much in the same way that Barbatos is now a part of Bruce Wayne's origin as Batman? It would certainly add a new layer to Helena Wayne's origin as the Huntress, and one that would motivate the Earth-0 Batman to try and look for her as the sole surviving Wayne of her world.

After all, if the Batman Who Laughs is responsible for the fate of the Earth-2 Batman in all of his incarnations, then he obviously knows about Helena Wayne's existence, and may end up being the link to reinstating her in the main continuity. Judging from Scott Snyder's previous runs on Batman and even his current run on Justice League, this is not an unlikely direction he'd go in.

One thing I've noticed about Snyder as a storyteller is that he's very similar to Grant Morrison in the way he loves to interweave past continuity into the present one, and finds clever, innovative ways to achieve that. He plays with all 80 years of DC lore and history in a way that builds on that existing history. This admittedly has me interested in seeing where he develops this plot thread with the Earth-2 Batman in The Batman Who Laughs miniseries, and I especially hope this means he has plans to use the original Helena Wayne Huntress in future stories, either in Justice League or in future Batman stories.

Considering Snyder noted last year that there is strong interest in seeing Helena return, and has so far been developing stories for characters that were high on a lot of people's lists last year, my optimistic self is thinking "the future is looking bright for my favourite Huntress." ;)

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