The Dark Knights are a team of "warriors of the darkness" assembled by The Batman Who Laughs for Barbatos. These warriors are evil and twisted versions of Batman from the Dark Multiverse who were willing to fight to keep their worlds alive.
Taken from their Earths moments before their destruction, The Batman Who Laughs, The Drowned, The Dawnbreaker, The Merciless, The Devastator, The Murder Machine, and The Red Death first appeared when the Court Of Owls ambushed Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and a baby Darkseid. Using the final metal required for the Mantling, the Court turned Batman into Barbatos' doorway to our Multiverse.
The Dark Knights then systematically took control of the homes of the Justice League (Amnesty Bay, Central City, Coast City, Detroit, Gotham City, Metropolis, and Washington D.C.) and the Watchtower. After the interference of the Gotham Resistance, The Batman Who Laughs called the Dark Knights to Gotham, only for the Resistance to be taken away by Doctor Fate.
The Dark Knights assembled again when Superman and Wonder Woman escaped from Barbatos's conduit tower in Metropolis. The Devastator attacked Superman but was quickly stopped by the intervening of The Flash and Doctor Fate. With Earth's remaining heroes now revealing their location to the Dark Knights, they attacked the Oblivion Bar and killed Nightmaster.
After finding out that Steel and Flash sent Superman into the Dark Multiverse on a rescue mission for Batman, Murder Machine and Devastator attacked them and stole the Anti-Monitor's cosmic tuning fork from the Fortress of Solitude. After fighting off Lobo, Devastator moved the tuning fork to Gotham. The remainder of Earth's heroes were transported to pseudo-Batcave by the Murder Machine. Each Leaguer was taken to their matching Dark Knight in their home city, while Dr. Fate, Mr. Terrific, Kendra Saunders and Deathstroke were attached to the tuning fork with the Teen Titans and Suicide Squad.
The Batman Who Laughs told everyone that the Dark Knights' ultimate goal was to unleash the horrors of all -51 Earths from the Dark Multiverse and completely destroy the Positive Multiverse. After being defeated by the Dark Knights, the League was going to be added to the tuning fork, until Cyborg partially merged with his Mother Box and freed himself, Raven and the League. Barbatos worried that Cyborg is a wildcard, but the Batman Who Laughs assured his master that everything was still going to plan as the Justice League were unknowingly spreading his darkness across the galaxy.
The next time the Knights were seen, they split up to intercept the heroes searching for traces of Nth Metal. Despite resistance on their, the groups were captured, the exception being Wonder Woman, who the Batman Who Laughs spared so she could struggle in vain against the darkness.
The Knights were next gathered when they were hunting the team Cyborg took with him into The Bleed. Using a corrupted Carrier, they tracked down their ship, the Ultima Thule, and chased them. Though they failed to shoot down the Thule, they were able to damage it enough to allow a team to storm it. While Drowned, Dawnbreaker, and Murder Machine fought the heroes, the rest hung back to control the Carrier. However, the heroes repelled the Knights long enough for Flash to sabotage the Carrier's engine, which accidentally turned the Red Death good. The group reunited on the damaged carrier as Red Death's conversion began killing him. Laughs then revealed that their goal wasn't to shoot down the Thule: It was to charge it with dark energy and force it to crash into the House of Heroes, which it does. The Knights stayed until right before the Thule crashes, then leave.
With most of the resistance to Barbatos captured and his dark army on the move, the Knights saw to the captured heroes. However, Wonder Woman and Kendra Saunders managed to wake some of the captured heroes up, allowing Wonder Woman to reach the World Forge. When the forge lit up again, Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman managed to harness Element X, and empowered some of the other Leaguers with the metal. With the power of the Tenth Metal, the League destroyed the Dark Knights, pulled the world out of the Dark Multiverse, and defeated Barbatos. The only Knight who managed to avoid destruction was the Batman Who Laughs, who was captured by Lex Luthor and the Legion of Doom.
When Perpetua and The Batman Who Laughs began to take over Prime Earth, Laughs assembled a new team of Dark Knights.
- At one point, the Batman who Laughs mentions that Murder Machine was chosen over a Batman who merged with Lex Luthor for membership in the Dark Knights.
- Each of the original Dark Knights correlates to a member of the Justice League:
- The Batman who Laughs - Batman.
- The Drowned - Aquaman.
- The Dawnbreaker - Green Lantern.
- The Merciless - Wonder Woman.
- The Devastator - Superman.
- The Murder Machine - Cyborg.
- The Red Death - The Flash.
- Each member of the first seven Dark Knights are a representation of Batman's worst fears and regrets.
- The Batman who Laughs - He represents Batman's fear of becoming as bad as the Joker, how much he is defined by the never-ending war with the Clown Prince of Crime and his regret he cannot stop the Joker for good without killing him.
- The Drowned - Represents Batman's fear of going too far in the fight against superhumans, his love for Catwoman, and his inability to trust anyone but himself.
- The Dawnbreaker - He represents Batman's fear of how dangerous he would be with superpowers but lacking his adult discipline, his inner despair taken to its extreme and the regret over his inability to get over his parent's deaths.
- The Merciless - He represents Batman's fear of who he would become if he started killing, how Wonder Woman helps him see the good in people, and his regret that he really cannot end his crusade since his villains keep coming back stronger time after time.
- The Devastator - He represents Batman's fear of losing hope, how important his friendship with Superman is and both the fear and regret that he cannot fully trust the Man of Steel.
- The Murder Machine - He represents Batman's fear he isn't as self-sufficient as he would like to be, once he is aware of his technological dependence to fight his worst enemies, his father-son relationship with Alfred Pennyworth and how much he is afected by this bound, and losing his humanity.
- The Red Death - He represents Batman's fear of losing members of the Bat-Family, his love for them and regret for those he failed. Some of his dialogue and his Speed Force quirk imply he might also represent Batman's fear of old age slowing him down.
- 40 Appearances of Dark Knights (Dark Multiverse)
- 7 Images that include Dark Knights (Dark Multiverse)
- Team Gallery: Dark Knights (Dark Multiverse)
Links and References
This character is or was primarily an enemy of the Justice League, in any of its various incarnations. This template will categorize articles that include it into the category "Justice League Villains."