"An Anti-Crisis, Part II: Be the Fern": The Metalverse, realm of the Batman who Laughs. The Hellscape, outside what used to be the city of Washington D.C.
- Now I'll take my new form, child. Don't be afraid. Blue is for soldiers of morning of light. But me... I am no dawn. No, you can call me... The Darkest Knight.
Synopsis for "An Anti-Crisis, Part II: Be the Fern"
The Metalverse, realm of the Batman who Laughs. The Hellscape, outside what used to be the city of Washington D.C.
Diana, Swamp Thing and Wally West hijacked the Batmobeast, a sentient Batmobile previously working for the Batman who Laughs. Thanks to it, they escaped Hell, formerly known as Themyscira, trying to find their own Bruce Wayne. After destroying the Batmobeast, they reach the Valhalla Cemetery, a sacred sanctuary where many fallen heroes were buried. Even Wally, who sit on the Mobius Chair, did not know of this place. Diana explains that there are some places which are protected from every kind of power, places he thought might still be free of the influence of Perpetua and his right hand, the Batman who Laughs, who was just killed by Wonder Woman and her invisible buzzsaw.
Wonder Woman hopes that the place is still untarnished by the dark power of Perpetua, and finds out it is: the Justice Society of America is guarding it. They grant them access, telling them Bruce is here, but asked not to be disturbed. Right now, he's cataloguing dead heroes with Jonah Hex, deciding if it is worth it to bring them back to life with the Black Lantern Ring, so that they might fight alongside him against the forces of evil. Bruce is angered towards Diana: he knows that killing the Batman who Laughs was probably the start of some new evolution of their enemy, who will come back stronger and more dangerous than before.
Diana tells him she could not live fighting little. She had to try to save everything, while Batman was still convinced the best route was to save who they could, then run on an isolated new Universe where they would keep goodness alive. But Bruce is impossible to move from his opinion: he still thinks fighting the big war is not the way to go. And he tells Diana why: this all started with Barbatos coming for them, with the Dark Multiverse invasion. That time, Bruce was at the center of all things, and he took the decision to rise, to get inside the World Forge to take Element X and with it, defeat Barbatos.
The result was that they broke the Source Wall, giving to Lex Luthor the opportunity to free Perpetua. Then, the League took things a step further: they took from the Quintessence the energy of Doctor Manhattan, and used it to fight Perpetua. They obtained an even worse fate as reward: the sick version of the Prime Universe remade under the Batman who Laughs' command, and a genocide of entire Universes systematically brought on by Perpetua. Every time they reach higher, the outcome is a worse reality than the one before. Maybe this time, stopping and remaining on the ground would be wiser. But thanks to both Swamp Thing and Jonah Hex, Bruce gives up to the idea of fighting the great fight, and tells Diana to explain her plan.
Diana tells him the plan is simple: while Wally remains safe here inside the Valhalla, they will go to New Apokolips to free their comrades, then travel to the Dark Multiverse to harness the original crisis energy. Once obtained it, they will give it to Wally who will proceed on initiating an Anti-Crisis, defeating Perpetua and giving them the opportunity to recreate a Multiverse of Justice. Batman answers her, telling this could be a plan, or maybe she is just having a stroke. As they prepare leaving, Jay calls for Barry Allen, the Flash, still free from the grasp of Perpetua.
Flash was using the last few Speed Force remaining to find a solution, trying to break Hypertime with a travel to the past, with the idea of stopping everything before it happened. But time is sealed: there's no escape from the present. He's happy to learn that Diana and Bruce decided to go for the big fight, and he's going to be with them in their crazy revolution.
Meanwhile, in Castle Bat, home of the Batman who Laughs
On an operating table lies a body, the body of the "Final Bruce Wayne", like the Batman who Laughs called him. It is a body treated with the energy of Doctor Manhattan, and Alfrood is now performing a transplant, putting inside that body the brain of their lord, killed by Wonder Woman. It was his plan all along. Now, the heroes will think him dead, while instead he will transform in a being with almost no limit in terms of power. The operation succeeds, as the new Batman Who Laughs blows the B-Rex away from existence because he was talking too much.
Perpetua of course senses the new power of the Batman who Laughs, so warns him: right now, her power is shielding him and all their realm from the Hands, beings like Perpetua who, if alerted of what they are doing, would come and judge their creation harshly. And they are far more brutal than Perpetua herself. After telling this to the Batman who Laughs, who reassures her all is right, the Batman who Laughs disintegrates all his servants in an instant: they were loyal, but they lacked something.
This something he sensed in one of his Robins: he wants him to tell his story to his ears. The Batman Who Laughs is delighted by this terrible story, and so offers to this Robin the title of Robin King, to be his right hand while he gathers back all the power of Doctor Manhattan. The Robin King should know that the heroes are making their moves, Wonder Woman leading the way. She's not the only one out there trying to do something about the situation they are all in, though. So, he has to make his counter as well: he will create brand new Universes, 52 universes of nightmare serving him and his cause. And now, the Robin King must not fear the form he is going to take, his definitive one: blue is for soldiers, but for him...black serves better. Everyone may call him now the Darkest Knight.
Inside the Arkham Wasteland
Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Swamp Thing and Jonah Hex just recruited another ally: Harley Quinn. They are now reaching a bunker Batman created, where he is keeping the Toymaster safe, guarded by remakings of the original Dark Knights. The same guy who built the Super-Robot, Diana remembers. Has he built something stealth to reach New Apokolips? Not exactly, tells Bruce. Because just like Sgt. Rock wants us to remember, when you are fighting for everything you should go straight through the #$%^ middle. And that's why the team is riding a new Super-Robot...
Appearing in "An Anti-Crisis, Part II: Be the Fern"
- The Flash (Barry Allen)
- The Flash (Wally West)
- Harley Quinn
- Jonah Hex
- Justice Society of America
- Sgt. Rock (Narrator)
- Swamp Thing
- Army of Alfreds (First appearance)
- Alfrood (First appearance) (Dies)
- The Batman Who Laughs / The Darkest Knight (Bruce Wayne) (Resurrected)
- Dark Knights
- Robin King (First appearance)
- Batman (Earth 30)
- Dark Knights (Robots)
- Doctor Manhattan (Flashback only)
- Final Bruce Wayne (Dies)
- Lex Luthor (Flashback only)
- Superman (Earth 0) (Flashback only)
- Superman (Earth 30)
- Lobo (In a vision)
- Alfred Pennyworth (Mentioned only)
- The Atom (Al Pratt) (Mentioned only)
- Barbatos (Mentioned only)
- Black Condor (Ryan Kendall) (Mentioned only)
- Dove (Don Hall) (Mentioned only)
- Human Bomb (Roy Lincoln) (Mentioned only)
- Johnny Quick (Jonathan Chambers) (Mentioned only)
- Liberty Belle (Libby Lawrence) (Mentioned only)
- Ma Hunkel (Mentioned only)
- Phantom Lady (Delilah Tyler) (Mentioned only)
- Sandman (Wesley Dodds) (Mentioned only)
- The Hands (Mentioned only)
- Toymaster (Mentioned only)
- Uncle Sam (Mentioned only)
- Prime Earth
- Earth 30 (Destroyed)
- Source Wall (Flashback only)
- Dark Multiverse (Mentioned only)
- Trinity Rocket
- Speed Force (Mentioned only)
- The Trinity Rocket Toymaster made that is seen at the final panel of the issue is a homage to the same Batman/Superman Robot from Superman/Batman #6
- The tagline "On a Highway to Hell" is a reference to the metal song "Highway to Hell" from Australian band AC/DC, keeping up with the consistency of the Metal musical themes, also recurring in Dark Nights: Metal.