The Devil in the Details: A History of Batman-666

This article is cross-posted at TBU.com!

collin colsher damian 666 batman super sons 10 tomasi

The recently released Super Sons #10 (January 2018, by Peter Tomasi, Jose Luis, and Scott Hanna) gave us a brief future intermezzo that showed an adult Damian Wayne, wearing a trench-coat-style Batman costume, emerging from the smoldering wreckage of the Gotham City Police Department headquarters. This Damian-as-Batman will factor into Tomasi’s upcoming Super Sons arc, probably providing intriguing headaches for both titular stars—the adult Batman’s younger self (Robin) and Jonathan “Superboy” Kent. How those headaches specifically take shape remains to be seen. But who is this grown-up Damian Batman (aka “Batman-666” aka “Batman of Bethlehem”) and where does he come from? Let’s dig deep, shall we?

In July 2007, DC Comics published a single-issue story called “Batman in Bethlehem” in Batman #666 (by Grant Morrison, Andy Kubert, Jesse Delperdang, and Guy Major), debuting a dystopian future Gotham City (dystopian even by Gotham’s standards) in which Batman is dead and Bruce Wayne’s adult son Damian Wayne has replaced him as a trench coat-wearing vigilante with no qualms about using lethal force. Thus, the “666 Future” world of Batman-666 (Damian as Batman) was born. The “666” name derives from both the issue number—Batman #666—and also the heavy narrative themes of devils, Satan, the Anti-Christ, and selling one’s soul that are imbued in the issue itself. This dark future was a key part of Morrison’s long arc on Batman that ran from 2006 to 2013. Visions of this possible/inevitable Gotham dystopia cause Bruce Wayne to rethink his entire mentality and mission, switching from a street-level/local Bat-Family battle plan to an ultra-militaristic global Batman Incorporated battle campaign. Morrison would return to the 666 Future with Batman #700 (August 2010) and Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 #5 (January 2013), thus making his 666 Future story basically a trilogy of single issues. The 666 Future would also be re-visited a few more times, further fleshing-out its narrative, over the course of the next decade—notably by 666 co-creator Andy Kubert himself in the mostly-maligned Damian: Son of Batman (December 2013 to March 2014), which told the detailed origin story of Damian becoming Batman-666. Other writers (including David Finch, Chris Roberson, and Peter Tomasi) would sprinkle-in a bit of sporadic 666 as well, adding their own little nuggets to the mythos along the way.

BATMAN #666—”Batman in Bethlehem”
By Grant Morrison, Andy Kubert, Jesse Delperdang, and
Guy Major (July 2007)

Batman #666 gave us our first glimpse into the life of an adult Damian as Batman. The issue immediately tells us that the former Batman was killed, after which a teenage Damian was manipulated into “making a deal with the devil”—i.e. a deal with Simon Hurt—to ensure Gotham’s protection. Damian gave up his eternal soul in exchange for the ensured survival of Gotham City. The nitty gritty details of the deal are never fully revealed, but it is implied that Damian received a “healing factor” or semi-immortality in the process. This deal, as we will see later in Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 #5, eventually comes back to haunt Damian. Hurt’s manipulation runs even deeper since he works for Damian’s mother Talia al Ghul, who is secretly the one responsible for Batman’s death.

666 origin

After the backstory, Batman #666 cuts to the future-present. We learn that a shaved-headed Damian, already a veteran in the Bat-costume for over a decade, has long turned the entire city of Gotham into his own personal weapon via hundreds of booby traps. Furthermore, Damian has activated a brand new Brother-I satellite and now uses it as his ultimate surveillance guide. Damian’s main rogues gallery consists of a pastiche of veteran villains and wild new rogues, which he regularly puts away in a reopened super-security version of Arkham Asylum. Damian has already filled the new prison with several super-villains—including The Sphinx, who would later be retroactively added to the list via the New 52’s Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 #5, and Jackanapes, who would later be retconned by Kubert to be one of Joker’s original henchmen in the New 52’s Batman #23.1. No specific details are given, but Damian also became partly responsible for the death of an unknown person (likely Jim Gordon), which put him at odds with Gotham’s new Commissioner of Police, Barbara Gordon. When former Azrael (Michael Lane) returns to Gotham obsessed with destroying Batman at the behest of his master Simon Hurt, Damian is forced into action. Dressed in his old Simon Hurt “substitute Batman” outfit, the “Bat-Devil” Lane kills five of the top Gotham mob bosses, including Phosphorus Rex, Professor Pyg, Loveless, and Candyman. Lane claims to be the Anti-Christ, sent to Gotham by the devil himself. Commissioner Barbara Gordon thinks Batman is responsible for the mobster murders, but she quickly sees the light of truth. Damian defeats Nikolai, The Weasel, Jackanapes, Max Roboto, and Eduardo Flamingo, during which he is riddled with bullets and set on fire. Despite this, Damian survives, thus hinting at (basically confirming) a “healing factor” or near invulnerability obtained from his deal with Hurt. Much to the dismay of Commissioner Gordon, Damian executes Lane.

batman 666 collin colsher

Batman #666 was published in July 2007, seemingly out of nowhere, interrupting the natural flow of Morrison’s arc (Batman #665 and Batman #667) without warning or explanation. The reader was simply dropped into the unfamiliar and chaotic territory—roughly fifteen to twenty years into the future from current storylines. Morrison would later slowly reveal—in 52 (2007), Batman #673 (2008), and Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne (2010)—that the entire 666 Future was part of a fever dream/vision/nightmare that Bruce Wayne had while going through a strenuous Thogal/Tögal ritual and then, later, while going through Darkseid’s cosmic Omega Sanction time-displacement. The full scope of what the 666 Future was, in regard to its status as a nightmare experienced by Bruce, wouldn’t be known until Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 (2013), six years after the publication of Batman #666! This would lead to considerable online debate over whether or not the 666 Future was meant to be a canonical future or merely a possible future (in both the Modern Age and New 52). It’s very debatable, and—as with much of Morrison’s work—there’s no definitive answer.

To add to the mind-blowing nature of introducing a concept six years prior to fully-explaining its connection to everything else, by that point in summer of 2007, we had yet to meet Professor Pyg, Phosphorus Rex, Eduardo Flamingo, Jackanapes, or the Weasel. These characters wouldn’t debut chronologically (both publishing-wise AND on a narrative timeline) until later—some of them much later. Yet, here readers were seeing them for the first time thanks to a flash-forward to the future! Not only that, but Professor Pyg’s first appearance in Batman #666 showed his death! Similarly, our first introduction to Michael Lane happened in Batman #666 too, which predates his first chronological narrative debut, which wouldn’t occur until Batman #672 (February 2008). We also met Alfred the Cat II in Batman #666—well before Alfred the Cat I debuted in Batman Incorporated Vol. 1! The idea of debuting characters BEFORE THEY ACTUALLY DEBUT is a very hard concept to articulate, but if you can grasp it, it’s truly astounding and beautiful. This Morrisonian trick is one of the many awesome “writing games” or “writing methodologies” that you can only really find in serialized superhero comic storytelling.

BATMAN #700—”Time and the Batman”
By Grant Morrison, Andy Kubert, and Brad Anderson (August 2010)

batman 700 cc

Our next glimpse into the continuing saga of Damian as Batman came with Batman #700. Max Roboto—later retconned by Andy Kubert, along with Jackanapes, to be one of Joker’s original henchmen in the New 52’s Batman #23.1—and 2-Face-2 take over Gotham’s new artificial climate control system, causing it to rain Monster Joker Venom all over the city. The majority of Gotham’s citizens are morphed into crazed Jokerized zombies. The double-faced legacy villain also kidnaps an infected infant named Terry McGinnis! Batman watches as a time-traveling Professor Carter Nichols appears from the past and, in a twisted form of suicide, murders his older self. Past-Nichols, distraught at his life of failure thanks to Simon Hurt, has time-traveled to now, killed his older self, and then sent that body back to the past so that the authorities (and Hurt) will think he is dead, thus providing him with a free and unhindered life in this future. Batman rescues tiny Terry, gives him an anti-venom, and defeats the baddies. The inclusion of Terry was Morrison’s way of canonically-connecting the 666 Future to the Batman Beyond future, which featured Terry as the new Batman. Furthermore, Batman #700‘s narrative begins in Bruce Wayne’s early days as Batman and spans hundreds of thousands of years, thus acting as Morrison’s way of also canonically-connecting the 666 Future to Morrison’s own DC One Million future, which featured the Justice Legion (including Batman) of the 853rd century. Having the narrative begin in Batman’s early days of crime-fighting, of course, was Morrison’s way of canonically-connecting the 666 Future to the primary timeline.

Batman 700 Page 33 Damian Wayne

Amazingly, Batman-666 and 2-Face-2 were referenced by Morrison himself twelve years prior to Batman #700—in DC One Million #3 (November 1998)! In that issue, the Batman of the 853rd century tells us that 2-Face-2 was cured by Batman, who convinced him that his lucky coin had caused him to make more good choices than bad overall. So, technically, this is the first mention of Damian as Batman—and it happens EIGHT YEARS before Damian’s published debut, NINE YEARS before Damian’s published debut as Batman-666, and TWELVE YEARS before 2-Face-2’s published debut! As you can clearly see, the seeds were being sewn by Morrison for his mega arc way early on!

DC One Million #3 Grant Morrison

(I should mention a caveat: The Batman of the 853rd century mistakenly refers to Damian Wayne as the “second Batman” in his dialogue. The term “Second Batman” is a dubious reference, but due to the landscape of DC Comics at the time, who really knows what Morrison was thinking? Technically speaking, even in 1998, Batman Number One was Bruce Wayne, Batman Number Two was Jean-Paul Valley, and Batman Number Three was Dick Grayson. Damian would have technically been Batman Number Four, although Morrison was probably referring to Damian as the second permanent Batman, which actually would have made sense at the time. In any case, this is definitely supposed to be a reference to Damian as Batman in the 666 Future.) Like the writing methodology of “debuting characters before they actually debut,” another great trick Morrison often employed (and with great success) was playing the long game. First, Morrison would write-in a time-traveling character and have the character mention something vague about the future… then, A DECADE LATER, he’d write a fully-fleshed-out narrative arc based on that vague mention!

SUPERMAN/BATMAN #75—”Eternal”
By David Finch, Scott Williams, and Peter Steigerwald (October 2010)

Eternal Superman/Batman 75

Our next Batman-666 sighting was in the “Eternal” portion of Superman/Batman #75. Because this short tale includes Conner Kent, it is decidedly only applicable to the Modern Age. (Conner Kent never exists as a character in the New 52.) And while “Eternal” was created by Finch, Williams, and Steigerwald, it definitely took place on Morrison’s 666 Future timeline shown in Batman #666 and Batman #700. Not only that, “Eternal” was also linked to Morrison’s DC One Million arc yet again, both because “Eternal” featured DC One Million characters and because it connected with references made in the DC One Million tie-in Superman: Man of Tomorrow #1,000,000 by Mark Schultz. In Man of Tomorrow #1,000,000, it is said that Superman (Kal-El/Clark Kent) decides to leave Earth after Lois Lane’s death to travel the cosmos in solitude for over 68,000 years. Before leaving, Clark appoints Superman Secundus as the new protector of Earth. Originally, Schultz had Clark depart at the end of the 21st century, but Superman/Batman #75 clearly retconned that to occur much earlier in order for things to jibe with the 666 Future timeline. Following Clark’s departure, Damian and Conner vow to meet annually at a memorial statue of Batman and Superman to honor their mentors’ memories. “Eternal” shows Batman (Damian in his forties), who is currently training Terry McGinnis to become the new Batman for Neo-Gotham. Likewise, we see an aged Superman (Conner Kent), who would be knee-deep in training Superman Secundus. Damian also mentions a truce, referring to the fact that he and Conner are currently in the middle of a feud.

SUPERMAN/BATMAN #80—”World’s Finest”
By Chris Roberson and Jesús Merino (March 2011)

Superman Batman 80

Superman/Batman #80, which was later re-printed in the DC One Million Omnibus, gave us a story-arc involving old-school Justice League rival Epoch (aka The Lord of Time). Having just been defeated by a young Batman (Bruce), young Superman (Clark), and even younger Robin (Dick), Epoch escapes into the time-stream and emerges in the future where he is immediately defeated by Batman-666 (Damian Wayne) and an also-time-traveling Superman Secundus. (Depending on your perspective and interpretation, this could easily be Superman Conner Kent, although the number two on his chest, along with a later nod to DC One Million in the same issue, seems to point toward this being Superman Secundus. Note that the term “second Superman” is used, which muddles things as specificity so often does in superhero comics storytelling.) Epoch retreats back into the time-stream and jumps to the 31st century, and later to the 853rd century as well. Again, like the previous Superman/Batman issue to feature the 666 Future, “World’s Finest” is applicable only to the Modern Age timeline.

flashpoint reboot

And in 2011, the Flashpoint reboot occurred, ending the Modern Age and starting the New 52 era. However, the 666 Future story wasn’t done yet. Undeterred, Morrison seemingly viewed the reboot as merely another “challenge of writing mainstream superhero comics” for which to deal with creatively. And, sure enough, Morrison dealt with it quite creatively. Due to the character’s status in the company, the main parts of Batman’s past were kept intact, despite an extremely-shortened new timeline. (Green Lantern Hal Jordan’s past was similarly unaffected.) Because Batman’s history was virtually untouchable, Morrison and all the other Bat-line creators were able to continue their ongoing arcs even though the entire line had been effectually eliminated and restarted from scratch. For Morrison, he continued his ongoing Batman Incorporated arc. In clever ways, he made sure that both Batman Incorporated and the 666 Future worked in both Modern Age continuity and New 52 continuity.

In 2011, following the New 52/Flashpoint reboot, things at DC were in full shake-up mode. Yet, despite the fact that the entire DC line had been rebooted to start over from virtual scratch, Batman made it through less altered than most other characters. However, in order to tell a seamless uninterrupted story (in his ongoing Batman Incorporated arc) that could take place canonically in both the Modern Age AND New 52, Morrison would have to put his creative writing skills to the test. Quite masterfully, Morrison did exactly that.

absolute edition batman inc

Admittedly, Morrison’s amazing exercise in making an arc work in TWO SEPARATE continuities at the same time isn’t 100% perfect, meaning it requires a handful of asterisks and caveats—notably Barbara Gordon is shown in a wheelchair in Batman #666, Batman #700, which didn’t have the benefit of hindsight upon their respective releases to know that Babs would recover the use of her legs in the New 52. (Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 #5—the third part of the 666 trilogy—does have that benefit, but matches its two predecessors anyway, putting Babs in the chair.) In any case, despite the caveats, Morrison’s lengthy Batman Incorporated arc and 666 Future arc both work pretty damn on the money in both continuities. When the Batman Incorporated Absolute Edition came out in 2015, Morrison, Burnham, and Fairbairn even made sure to alter some of the art so that it made sense in the Modern Age, especially the flashbacks. In the Modern Age, Batman wears his yellow-oval costume earlier in his career, so a flashback should have reflected that. However, in the New 52, Batman never wears the yellow oval; and, in fact, only wears one type of black-symbol costume. Thus, in the original New 52 run, Batman, even in flashback, wears the same black symbol costume. Morrison, Burnham, and Fairbairn made the change in the Absolute Edition because they were serious about fitting their story into dual chronologies. There’s even a scene in Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 #10 where Batman obtains Man-Bat Serum from Dr. Kirk Langstrom that is brilliantly written in an obscurantist way so that it could exist in two separate timelines—one where Batman has long been comrades with Langstrom and the other where they haven’t even met yet! This sequence is like the Certified Copy (the film by Abbas Kiarostami) of superhero comics. With all these tricks and shenanigans going on in Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 at the time of the reboot, it’s no surprise that the Batman 666 Future could coexist in two separate continuities. It’s also no surprise that there’s no official consensus, a ton of debate, and quite a bit of interesting takes when it comes to figuring out the continuity and canonicity of the 666 Future post-Batman Incorporated Vol. 2.

BATMAN INCORPORATED VOL. 2 #5—”Asylum”
Grant Morrison, Chris Burnham, and Nathan Fairbairn (January 2013)

batman inc vol 2 5

Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 #5 is the only part of the 666 Future narrative that is sandwiched between present-day narrative—as a flash-forward that explicitly regards it as a mere dream. Bruce explains this part of the 666 Future to Damian and the rest of the Bat-Family in Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 #5. Because of this, Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 #5‘s 666 Future story is technically a dream sequence, falling into a category of questionable canonical status more-so than the other stand-alone parts, which are unattached to any dream sequence or contemporary story narrative. But, as with all of the 666 Future, the canonical status of the Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 #5 part is open to interpretation (and, therefore, much debate).

batman inc 5

deal with the devil simon hurt

In the middle of “Asylum,” we get a recapping of the death of Batman from Batman #666—with the important added “deal with the devil” (aka “deal with Simon Hurt”) scene that gave Damian invulnerability at the cost of his very soul. Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 #5 continues the 666 Future story with much of North America in chaos (thanks to the actions of Bat-Damian’s rogues). Damian and Commissioner Babs fight off the entire populace of a government-quarantined Gotham, which has been Jokerized with a brand new strain of Joker Venom. Damian and Babs try to hold off the Jokerized citizens from a barricaded Arkham Asylum, but a rescued infant brings the virus within their walls. (Note that the infant shown in here, unlike in the previous Batman #700 story, isn’t Terry McGinnis. We know this because Baby Terry was given a dose of anti-venom and this baby has a natural immunity.) Babs then gets infected and blasts Damian in the spine with a shotgun. (Damian’s “healing factor”/near invulnerability allows him to continue on.) Per Talia’s orders, Simon Hurt (who has ascended to the highest levels of American government) authorizes a US Government nuclear strike on Gotham, killing thousands and wiping-out most of the city. As the trope/saying goes, “No body, no death.” We never see Damian or Babs actually killed. Damian looks worse for wear, but presumably, Damian’s “healing factor”/near invulnerability allows him to survive the nuclear strike, after which he presumably rescues Babs and purges the Joker Juice from her system. Babs appears to succumb to her Jokerization before getting swarmed by a mob. But if we are to take the 666 Future as canon, then Damian and Babs must remain alive—an elder Damian is shown mentoring teenage Terry McGinnis in Batman #700 and Babs features heavily in Batman Beyond. This is comics, though, so clones or resurrections could always be a factor. Even Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 ends with a bunch of Damian clones. But that’s a story for another time!

batman inc 5 2 batman damian yung

The next installments to the Batman-666 story occurred in Batman & Robin Vol. 2 Annual #1 and Damian: Son of the Batman #1-4; and both function as prequels, detailing the origins of a younger Damian becoming Batman-666.

BATMAN & ROBIN VOL. 2 ANNUAL #1—”Batman Impossible”
By Peter Tomasi, Ardian Syaf, Vicente Cifuentes, and John Kalisz (March 2013)

batman and robin annual new 52

In “Batman Impossible,” Bruce Wayne is challenged to a global scavenger hunt by Damian. Bruce agrees and immediately departs with Alfred for London. In Gotham, young Damian dons a self-made Batman costume (a mini version of his costume from the Batman 666 future!) and hits the streets to work a case and bust some random costumed super-villains. In London, Bruce finds Damian’s first “gift,” a picture that Bruce’s mom painted. Damian video chats with Bruce and tells him to get to Spain. While Bruce and Alfred catch up with some heartwarming bonding time, Damian puts on his 666 Bat-costume and kicks some more butt in Gotham. While Bruce goes to Barcelona and Greece, lil’ Bat-Damian-666 defeats a guy in a military mech-suit and the debuting Weasel. Like before, this is a timeline mind-bender since, at the time of publication, we’d only seen the Weasel in Batman #666, which was the future—and technically the future of a previous continuity, to boot! In Greece, Bruce finds the stone tile on which his father wrote a marriage proposal to his mother. Damian flies to London and meets with his pop. Bruce is overjoyed and filled with love in regard to Damian’s wonderful scavenger hunt. Father and son then watch Alfred perform Shakespeare at the Old Globe Theater. Quite a happy sappy start to a hellish and evil future! Tomasi was definitely having fun with this one.

Next up was Damian: Son of Batman #1-4, written solely by the artist creator of Batman-666 and the 666 Future, Andy Kubert.

damian son of batman kubert #1

DAMIAN: SON OF BATMAN #1-4
By Andy Kubert and Brad Anderson (December 2013 to March 2014)

Damian: Son of Batman tried its best to adhere to the small amount of backstory given to the origin of Damian-as-Batman—the key facets being that Batman died, after which Damian (still Robin) made a deal with the devil aka Simon Hurt, which then led to him becoming the semi-invincible cat-whispering Travis Bickle-esque Batman-666. However, Kubert was all about that M Night Shyamalan twist. (For any film buffs keeping score, I’ve compared Morrison’s scripting to Kiarostami and Kubert’s to Shyamalan; and, no offense to fans of M Night, but the comparison is decidedly in Morrison’s favor.) Anyway, the “what a twist!” moment comes as we learn that the Batman who died in the origin flashbacks from Batman #666 and Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 #5 wasn’t Bruce… it was Dick Grayson! AFTER ALL, Morrison merely showed us that a Batman had been killed to kick-off the 666 Future. He never said who was wearing the cape and cowl! In another odd Kubert bit, we learn what happened to Jim Gordon after he retired from the Force. For some reason he became a Catholic priest. Don’t ask why.

the next batman!

Damian: Son of Batman begins with Batman (Dick) and Robin (Damian) investigating a mass grave about which a bunch of Joker-fish are strewn. When Dick examines the fish, a bomb goes off killing him instantly. (The immediate aftermath of this death scene, which was shown in Batman #666 and Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 #5, looks quite different in Damian: Son of Batman—another strange decision made by Kubert for unknown reasons.) Soon after, a funeral is held at Wayne Manor, presided over by Father Jim Gordon. In attendance are Bruce, Alfred, Damian, Babs (in a wheelchair), and two other unidentified people. Weeks after Dick Grayson’s death, Damian visits his mother Talia and grandfather Ra’s al Ghul. Talia and Ra’s al Ghul discuss Damian’s history—although Talia curiously neglects to mention his New 52 death (from Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 #8) and New 52 resurrection (from Batman and Robin Vol. 2‘s “Robin Rises”). This omission on the part of Kubert seems like a hard lean into making this arc function in the Modern Age over the New 52, but, again, who really knows what Kubert was trying here? Interestingly, Mom and Grandpa are the ones that encourage Damian to become Batman-666. Back in Gotham, Damian learns that many super-villains have falsely claimed responsibility for murdering Batman. A pissed-off Robin goes out and murders both Mr. Freeze and Killer Croc and nearly kills Jackanapes. After a chat with Father Gordon, Robin kills rookie villain Chipmunk. Back in the Batcave, Bruce (now older and slightly graying) flips-out and confronts Damian about the murders. Bruce and Damian begin a brutal fistfight with each other, during which Bruce winds up getting accidentally gutted by a grappling hook. Alfred rushes in to stabilize Bruce and orders Damian to leave. After chatting with Father Gordon, Damian dons an adult version of his 666 Bat-costume and heads to the recently abandoned Arkham Asylum. A clue at Arkham leads the debuting Batman-666 downtown into battle with Professor Pyg and his Dollotrons. Pyg kicks Damian’s butt and blows him into the Gotham River. Alfred collects the unconscious Damian and brings him back home. After performing lifesaving surgery on Damian, Alfred slumps over and ingloriously dies. Note that Alfred’s tombstone says 2014 (the date of this arc’s publication), which again, oddly enough, was clearly Kubert demonstrating his strong lean toward Modern Age sensibilities even though this arc was published in the New 52. Damian soon recovers from injury but begins talking to his pet cat, Alfred II, which he hallucinates as sounding just like Alfred. Talk about a coping mechanism. Damian, as Batman, returns to the streets and takes down newcomer Sharptooth, Jackanapes, and an unnamed simian pal. Later, Bruce, still recovering from his own injury, gets kidnapped by his in-house nurse, who turns out to be a disguised Impostor Joker. This prompts Damian to march into a nest of super-villains to attempt a rescue. The young new Batman fights and defeats Phosphorus Rex, a newbie named Tomahawks, Jackanapes (again), Weasel, and a bunch of ape-men. He then saves his dad and kicks the crap out of Impostor Joker. After Damian and Bruce leave, the real Joker appears and kills Impostor Joker. Damian chats with kitty Alfred and then takes to the streets to make his tenure as the new Batman official, starting with the arrest of weird super-villain Snickers the Cat-Man. There is truly a lot of strange stuff happening in Damian: Son of Batman. It feels like Kubert was trying to do his best Morrison (or Neal Adams) impersonation, but it fell a bit short.

the multiversity the just

THE MULTIVERSITY: THE JUST #1—”#earthme”
Grant Morrison, Ben Oliver, and Daniel Brown (December 2014)

The next Batman-666 we’d see was a brand new take entirely—an alternate Earth version of Damian-as-Batman delivered by (again) Morrison himself. Welcome to Earth-16, a part of the Gérard Genette theory-inspired arc known as The Multiversity—a world where all the super-villains have been defeated by mom and pop; and the second generation heroes find themselves living complacent reality TV/pop-star lives akin to the Kardashians. Damian is again the trench-coat-wearing 666 version of Batman we know and love, but he is decidedly a part of the pompous and decadent world of Earth-16. The banal domestic dramas between Damian, his lover Alexis Luthor, and his friend Superman (Chris Kent), which overlap with a lackadaisical investigation into suicides related to party invitation snubs, are quickly quashed by a massive metatextual threat as the creeping cosmic Gentry seep into their world, brining utter doom and gloom with them.

picto fic! multiveristy

Following The Multiversity, interest in Batman-666 never waned. Writers clearly have had him (and his future) on their minds quite a bit. While Batman-666 hasn’t appeared outright, he has in the form of hallucinations or visions. These hallucinations or visions of Batman-666 have popped-up here-and-there—in Batman Eternal #46 (April 2015) by a large group of creators, including Tim Seeley, the villain Ebeneezer Darrk causes a hallucination of Batman-666 and other possible future Batmen; in Nightwing Vol. 4 #17 (May 2017) by Tim Seeley, Javi Fernandez, and Chris Sotomayor, Simon Hurt uses a cosmic blade that causes visions of alternate realities linked to the ongoing Metal: Dark Nights series—including the 666 Future; and in Superman Vol. 4 #25 (August 2017) by Patrick Gleason, Peter Tomasi, and Doug Mahnke, we are treated to visions of various “alternate arcs of space-time.”

And once again, we have Batman-666—or at least some version of him returning to comics in Super Sons by Peter Tomasi, Jose Luis, and Scott Hanna. This will be the first non-hallucination or non-vision version of Batman-666 to appear in the “Rebirth” Era (i.e. to appear since DC’s latest reboot, which occurred this past year). In Super Sons #10 (January 2018), Tomasi and company delivered a stark and striking image of Batman-666 crawling out of the burning wreckage of the GCPD HQ building. (In case you hadn’t noticed, Batman-666 emerging from raging hellfire—a part of reoccurring Satanic themes—is a common trope for the character.) Batman #666 ended with Damian declaring, “The Apocalypse is cancelled. Until I say so. Super Sons #10 sees Damian declaring, “The Apocalypse is back on. Because I say so.” Bring it on, I say! Batman-666 returning to the fold falls in line with other recent similar “Rebirth” appearances of alternate future characters. In other titles, we’ve seen Troia, the “Titans Tomorrow” Tim Drake, and the Justice League’s kids from a dystopian hypertime future, just to name a few. These returns have all had major impact on the contemporary players involved. The same should ring true for the Super Sons. Tomasi’s ongoing arc should be one for the ages, especially since Super Sons has already been an exciting ongoing series that hasn’t failed to deliver as one of DC’s current best.

super sons 11

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About Collin Colsher

Collin Colsher, the creator of The Real Batman Chronology Project and disCONTINUITY, is a writer, filmmaker, teacher, and comic book historian that currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. He has lectured at various universities, libraries, and book fairs. Collin has also served on the jury for the Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize, which is sponsored by the US Library of Congress.
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2 Responses to The Devil in the Details: A History of Batman-666

  1. Stephen says:

    Thanks for this, I have been on a Damian as Batman kick and was looking for a in-depth guide.

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