DC Comics is a world where anything can take place, especially now that Batman murdered Ares to replace him as the new God of War in Batman: the Merciless. This is not the only time when Bruce Wayne has taken up a Godly role. However, it is not a heroic act to see how he claimed the powers of an Olympian God. The name suggests that Batman’s increased power over humans failed to pan out the way he had desired. The man who led the war against evil has now become War, and the rules that make him a superhero have all been tossed aside, but, then if you lose your lady love, then you are likely to react like that.
Comic book fans are simply loving the huge METAL event from DC, and they know that this version of Batman is a ‘nightmare scenario’ brought forward by the DC Dark Multiverse. In short, this is a scenario created to answer, ‘What if Batman fought Ares to bring peace to the world?’ This is similar to the various other questions about the other METAL ‘Nightmare Batmen’- what if Batman becomes Doomsday? What will happen if Batman steals The Flash’s speed? What will happen if Batman becomes The Joker? The answer is a villain who can murder whole worlds.
Then why did this ‘Merciless’ Bruce Wayne come to our universe? The answer is simple: He has already murdered all the gods of his world.
WONDER WOMAN IS MURDERED BY ARES
The earlier Dark Nights one-shots had given details about the origins of all these Nightmare Batmen. Peter J. Tomasi and Francis Manapul have explained the alien events that converted Batman into a destructive god. The Merciless originates from a planet Earth -12 which is similar to the one which most DC Comics fans are familiar with, barring one exception. In this frightening eventuality of the DC Dark Multiverse, Ares had built a new helmet which multiplied his powers as an Olympian God. Wonder Woman is the leader of the war against Ares. However, this time Ares kills her in the battle alongside other heroes who tried to stop him.
The twist is far more destructive than normal because this Batman version was not just friendly with Wonder Woman. As it turns out, they had been in love after Diana’s lover, Steve Trevor, died in the same war. The battlefield was dotted with defeated and dead superheroes and Olympians, and Bruce Wayne was the only one standing. Typical of his style, he casts one final glance at the remains of his only link to the living world, lying dead and then goes berserk.
This comic book doesn’t tell you whether this last move was pre-planned by Batman, which is something he normally does. However, the helmet of Ares which was lying next to the lifeless body of Wonder Woman leaves Batman with only one choice.
BATMAN FACES-OFF AGAINST ARES
Diana and Bruce had planned to challenge Ares in combat and then take his super helmet away from it and destroy the helmet forever. They met him and briefly had him down. However, what was not planned was the death of Bruce’s lover. She had already warned him about the possible influence of the helmet’s powers, and Bruce saw that Diana had anyway died before ensuring the helmet’s destruction and it made Bruce choose a different path.
It must be noted here that unlike the origin stories of other Nightmare Batmen which are either out of obsession, addiction or madness running unchecked, this story’s Batman appeared to be like the ‘normal’ Batman. He ignored the advice of Wonder Woman, but, with noble intentions. On the one hand Ares wanted to rule the world and cause destruction, Bruce is after peace (which is in line with his wish for control and order). He wore the helmet willing to use the powers of the War God in a just and merciful way.
But, that was then, and this is not the first issue of Batman: The Merciful. When he arrived in the main DCU, Batman had no desire to ensure the peace which he won on his home world. As they say about absolute power.
BATMAN BECOMES A NIGHTMARE GOD OF WAR
Once he sliced the head of Ares away from the limp torso and gained control of the powers of the God of War for his own personal use, Bruce started a campaign throughout his world. Ultimately, the Batman Who Laughs arrived and saved him from the destruction that is soon faced by him (DC’s Dark Multiverse tends to revel in the darkness of the netherworlds). He was tasked to unleash war upon the world central to DC’s Multiverse; Batman quickly justifies the ‘nightmare’ title. In a world devoid of Justice League, he slaughters innocent soldiers and civilians and approaches the Steve Trevor of DCU as well as Amanda Waller and others. This is evident that this Batman was beyond redemption.
The issue ends with him getting a powerful chokehold on Steve Trevor – the guy who in another world was the first male partner of his dead lover. However, fans can’t figure out the whole narrative from these tidbits. The truth is that The Merciless #1 ended with an even darker incident which further made Bruce’s tale more convoluted and tragic. What kind of destruction will he cause on Earth or what are his intentions towards the Wonder Woman living on this planet remains unseen.
However, as METAL progresses, the focus is neither on the comeback of Wonder Woman or the Superman. We are wondering how the DC Universe’s gods and goddesses will react towards this God of War from another realm who is out to defame them. It is going to be tough for anyone who challenges him.
Batman: The Merciless #1 is available in stores