Dark Knight, Dark City is a Batman storyline written by Peter Milligan with illustrations by Kieron Dwyer. The cover illustrations are by Mike Mignola. It was published in the Batman series as an interim story between the ending of Marv Wolfman's run and the start of Alan Grant's run.
This story is notable for portraying a much darker version of the Riddler. He is seen as more vicious and bloodthirsty in this story than he had previously been. It is also notable for adding supernatural elements to Batman mythology, suggesting that the Wayne murders were more than a random crime. This is a theme that has been used in other stories.
In 1765, a group of occultists including Jacob Stockman and Thomas Jefferson perform a ritual called the "Ceremony of the Bat." This ritual summons the bat daemon Barbathos, and they must sacrifice an innocent to control it. They choose a drugged girl named Dominique, who has gone through six steps of preparation to turn her into a "Human Bat." Barbathos is summoned, but Jefferson hesitates to kill the girl, and they are attacked by a winged monster. The occultists flee, and they seal the temple behind them. The girl is trapped inside with the monster. Gotham City is built on the ground above the temple. Years later in 1793, Stockman writes a confession. This confession is discovered by the Riddler when he is stealing antiques in the modern era. The Riddler decides to recreate the ritual, choosing Batman as the "Human Bat" and putting him through the six steps of preparations. These include the following.
- Kissing the lips of a hanged man
- Bathing in human blood
- Dancing with the dead in a "Danse Macabre"
- Slaying a wild dog with a silver dagger
- Slitting the throat of an unbaptized child
- Dancing a sabbath dance in front of the devil, represented by a horned goat
The Riddler summons Batman and Commissioner Gordon to the roof of GCPD Headquarters. They receive a riddle from a hypnotized woman dressed like a Sphinx, who then jumps off the roof and kills herself. They track the Riddler to a library where he has hanged a security guard. Batman must save the guard using mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. The Riddler also kidnaps four babies so Batman will chase him. The next riddle leads to a blood transfusion center.
Batman saves the first baby, but the Riddler sets a bomb so Batman will get covered in blood. The next riddle leads Batman to a cemetery. Batman is attacked by several zombies, which are revealed to be robots covered in dead flesh. The second baby has a riddle that leads Batman to a bar, where he is attacked by dogs. The bartender hands him a silver dagger to defend himself, and he realizes after stabbing a dog that this was another ploy. The Riddler gives Batman the next location, where he has lodged a ping pong ball inside the third baby's throat. Batman is forced to perform an emergency tracheotomy to save the child. The riddle on this baby leads him to a house of mirrors, where the third baby is sitting next to a goat. The Riddler's henchman attacks him with a flamethrower, and he dances around to avoid the flames. Batman tracks the Riddler to his last location, the building where the original temple was held.
The Riddler captures Batman, explains the ritual, and prepares to sacrifice him. They are both startled when Barbathos speaks. Barbathos explains that he is the spirit inside Gotham, and he created Batman to one day release him. The Riddler flees in terror, seals the tomb, and sets fire to the building. Barbathos shows Batman a vision of the occultists. He explains that Batman and Dominique are brothers and sisters of the bat. The winged creature that attacked the occultists was a normal-sized bat, it only seemed like a monster because they were terrified. Alfred Pennyworth arrives to open the temple, and Batman helps Dominique's spirit escape. Her remains are buried inside the Wayne private cemetery. Batman decides that it does not matter if a demon was behind his origins, because those experiences were real and they made him who he is.
Grant Morrison's Batman
The events of Dark Knight, Dark City were later adapted by Grant Morrison in his Batman and Robin series. Morrison's seven-year saga on Batman was notable for reworking many classic stories so they would fit into modern continuity. This adaptation includes several retcons. Doctor Hurt is shown to be one of the occultists. Barbatos is revealed to be the Hyper-Adapter, a monster created on Apokolips.
The occultists are seen arguing, and they flee in terror when Barbatos is summoned. Five of them escape and nail the door of the temple closed. The one that remains is that era's Thomas Wayne, the black sheep of the Wayne family. Thomas is a Darkseid-worshipper, and knows that Barbatos was sent by his god. He bites into the bat's chest and Barbatos becomes a part of him, making him immortal. This is when he takes the name "Simon Hurt." Dominique watches as he does this, then he turns to her and says "I will bathe in all your blood."
This is important for several reasons. Doctor Hurt is the villain who nearly destroyed Batman in Batman R.I.P.. His origins were unknown, but he had claimed to be both the Devil and Thomas Wayne. He was known to be an immortal, and he met Batman for the first time when Batman was time-traveling in the 19th Century. Batman later shot Darkseid in the chest during Final Crisis. Darkseid retaliated by blasting Batman with his Omega Beams. This sent Batman backwards in time to the Prehistoric Era. Batman would slowly travel forwards in time collecting omega energy, until he reached the present and exploded killing everything. The Hyper-Adapter was sent to follow Batman. It is a thought weapon patterned on Batman and designed to pursue him until he dies. This story explains that Hurt took on the Hyper-Adapter's Batman-like characteristics, and literally became a weapon designed to destroy Batman. Hurt is eventually defeated by the Joker, who seals him underground in a wooden casket. This resembles the method originally used to trap Barbatos.
- This storyline has been reprinted in two collected editions. It was originally reprinted as DC Comics Presents: Batman: Dark Knight, Dark City in 2011. They later reprinted it in 2015 as Batman: Dark Knight, Dark City alongside Milligan's run in Detective Comics #629-633. Additionally. it was included in Batman: The Caped Crusader Vol. 3, part of a series collecting all issues of the post-Crisis Batman.
- Batman Recommended Reading
- Batman (Volume 1)
- Batman (Volume 2)
- Batman (Volume 3)
- Batman and Robin (Volume 1)
- Batman and Robin (Volume 2)
- Batman Confidential (Volume 1)
- Batman: Gotham Knights (Volume 1)
- Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight (Volume 1)
- Batman: Shadow of the Bat (Volume 1)
- Batman: Streets of Gotham (Volume 1)
- Batman Incorporated (Volume 1)
- Batman Incorporated (Volume 2)
- Batman/Superman (Volume 1)
- Batman/Superman (Volume 2)
- Batman/Superman: World's Finest (Volume 1)
- Batman: The Dark Knight (Volume 1)
- Batman: The Dark Knight (Volume 2)
- The Brave and the Bold (Volume 1)
- Detective Comics (Volume 1)
- Detective Comics (Volume 2)
- Superman/Batman (Volume 1)
- World's Finest (Volume 1)
- The Riddler Recommended Reading
Links and References
- Dark Knight, Dark City review at Comics Alliance
- Dark Knight, Dark City review at Comics You Should Own
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