Batman’s Rogues Weren’t The Only Ones Twisted By DC’s City of Madness

Summary

  • Batman: City of Madness introduces a dark version of Batman that is released by the Court of Owls.
  • A twisted reflection of Gotham City only accessible through a portal has twisted some of Batman’s greatest enemies.
  • The Batman of Gotham Below takes a young boy under his wing to potentially create a dark version of Robin


Batman is one of DC’s most iconic heroes, and the cape and cowl-wearing vigilante has amassed a number of equally theatrical villains over his long career as a crime-fighter. While flashy criminals such as the Joker, the Penguin, and the Riddler are generally the first to come to mind when it comes to Bat-Villains, a relatively new addition to his Gotham City rogues gallery has proven to be one of his most formidable opponents, which is further shown in DC’s latest Black Label series.

Introduced in 2012 as a part of DC’s New 52 initiative, the Court of Owls debuted in Batman (Vol. 2) #4 (by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo). Since their introduction, the secret society has both run Gotham City from behind the scenes and vexed the Dark Knight whenever he dared to get in the way of their plans. However, the Court takes things a bit further in DC’s new Black Label series Batman: City of Madness (by Christian Ward and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou) when they unwittingly release a horrifying version of the Dark Knight upon Gotham City.


City of Madness Introduces the Darkest Version of the Dark Knight

The Court of Owls released a horrific version of Batman

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Batman: City of Madness introduces the concept of Gotham Below, a twisted reflection of the city that lies beneath Gotham and is only accessible via a strange portal. This place features dark versions of many residents of its counterpart, including the Caped Crusader himself.

The book also reveals that the Court of Owls was not only aware of Gotham Below but took on the task of guarding the portal to the hellish realm. The Court made specific mention of a dangerous creature that existed there that could not be allowed into their version of Gotham. Unfortunately, the Court is betrayed by one of their own, and the portal is opened. One of the Court’s elite Talons is dispatched to destroy the opening before the creature is released and loses an arm for his trouble courtesy of the creature the Court was trying to keep out of Gotham – a dark, horrific version of Batman.

City of Madness Has Also Affected Batman’s Rogues

Several Dark Knight villains have been affected by Gotham Below

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Although the Batman of Gotham Below appears to be the only dark resident to have physically crossed over, the twisted versions of some of his enemies have managed to make contact with (and influence) some of the Dark Knight’s enemies.

While arguably his darkest villain, the Joker, has yet to be seen, some of Batman’s other classic foes have been affected. Most notable of these is Two-Face, who has been able to mentally connect with his counterpart, although he hasn’t been overtaken completely. Unfortunately, a few of his peers have not been so fortunate. Clayface transformed into a monstrous rage creature due to the influence of his other, and the otherwise meek and timid Ventriloquist has developed a murderous new persona that he has literally carved into his hand.

City of Madness Batman Has a Deadly New Mission

The Dark Knight of Gotham Below is on a sinister quest

City of Madness Batman and his potential Robin.

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The Batman introduced in City of Madness is one of the most visually disturbing versions of the Dark Knight yet. In place of the revealed portion of his face beneath his cowl are a number of obscene octopus tentacles that commonly appear to be covered in blood, and his eye slits are a glowing yellow.

Even more unsettling than his appearance is the new mission that this Batman appears to be intent on fulfilling. He has taken a vested interest in a young boy whose father was unjustly killed by a corrupt police officer. The dark vigilante has latched on to this child and his anger and has offered to help him take deadly revenge on the man responsible for the death of his father. This vigilante appears to be completely devoid of Bruce Wayne’s moral code, having already maimed and possibly murdered the criminals he has thus far encountered. Even worse, this Dark Knight appears to be grooming this misguided child into a dark version of Robin.

Batman: City of Madness Could Have Lasting Effects on the DC Universe

The world of the Dark Knight may never be the same

City of Madness Batman leaps through the air with a young boy.

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Although Batman: City of Madness is printed as part of DC’s Black Label imprint, it is still quite possible that elements of the story could cross over to the mainstream universe. With Chip Zdarsky’s current run on Batman exploring several multiversal concepts, there is no reason why the series could not delve into the world of Gotham Below and explore this deadly new version of the Caped Crusader.

There is also plenty of room to explore the fate of the child this Batman is attempting to transform into Robin. While the end of his story remains uncertain until the release of the third and final issue, he has still experienced a fair amount of trauma, bloodshed, and the loss of a parent. These are all elements that have always been integral to the mythos of DC’s iconic Caped Crusader in all of his various incarnations. The City of Madness may have tainted the Dark Knight and his rogues, but there might still be time to save the Dark Knight of Gotham Below’s chosen ward.

The cover to batman issue 1

Batman

Batman is one of the oldest comic superheroes, with nearly a century of comics, TV-shows, films, and video games. The mild-mannered Bruce Wayne becomes Gotham City’s caped crusader, protecting it from villains like The Joker, Killer Croc, The Penguin, and more. Batman is also one of DC comics’ “Big Three” alongside Superman and Wonder Woman, and together the three help keep the earth safe as founding members of the Justice League. 

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