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Comic Book / Tales from the Dark Multiverse

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The multiverse. A collection of possibilities and realities. A vast landscape of worlds, held back from darkness by the thinnest of barriers. But what is that barrier? A moment. A choice. Between what we know... and what should never be.

Tales from the Dark Multiverse is a DC Comics What If? limited series from several different artists and writers, expanding upon the Dark Multiverse introduced in Dark Nights: Metal through retellings of some of the company's most famous stories—Batman: Knightfall, The Death of Superman, Blackest Night, Infinite Crisis, and Teen Titans: The Judas Contract—but with a dark twist. Additional oneshots in the series followed in 2020, focusing on Batman: Hush, Flashpoint, Crisis on Infinite Earthsnote , War of the Gods, and Dark Nights: Metal.

A crisis is coming. Perhaps the greatest yet. Tempus Fuginaut travels the Dark Multiverse, the darkest parts of all reality, to see if there is light, worlds where heroes succeed and thrive... or if all is doomed to be lost in darkness.

Tales from the Dark Multiverse contains the following tropes:

  • A God Am I:
    • Teen Titans: The Judas Contract ends with Terra becoming a Physical God, dubbing herself Gaia and ruling over the Earth like a mad god.
    • Lois Lane becomes one in The Death of Superman after fusing with the Eradicator and letting her grief drive her insane. She decides that the best use of her power is to solve the world's problems by using her abilities to murder everyone she deems responsible, questioning why Superman never went that far when he was alive.
  • Adaptational Early Appearance: This version of Batman: Hush heavily borrows elements from Night of the Owls. In regular continuity, the Court of Owls was not established to exist until the New 52 continuity, which came along after two Cosmic Retcons that followed Hush (Infinite Crisis and Flashpoint (DC Comics)).
  • Affirmative-Action Legacy: In addition to the canon legacies, including Beth Chapel as Dr Midnight and Yolanda Montez as Wildcat, the final image of the JSA in the Crisis on Infinite Earths verse includes Connor Hawke as Green Arrow and what appears to be Barbara Gordon in Earth-2 Dick Grayson's original "adult Robin" costume.
  • Alternate Company Equivalent: This series is essentially like Marvel's What-If titles, only with the darker turns being the explicit goal of the premise, with Tempus Fuginaut emulating the Watcher's role as narrator.
  • And I Must Scream:
    • Bruce's new nanotech powers in Knightfall doesn't completely kill his victims, but rather uploads their minds into the nanobot swarm that comprises his body, keeping them in a kind of helpless consciousness forever.
    • Sinestro is immortal, in an entire universe of living beings modeled after Lobo, aware of other universes and desperate to escape to them but unable to. Tempus Fuginaut cruelly refuses to let him escape his own universe under the excuse of not wanting to risk him tainting the rest of the multiverse.
  • Ascended Extra: Surtur didn't have much characterization or page time in The Last Days of the Justice Society, essentially being a Final Boss for the Society to defeat. He has much more page time and focus in the Dark Multiverse, with his sadistic personality and logical weaknesses for a being made of fire being the most significant additions.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • Blackest Night is, of all the Tales from the Dark Multiverse stories, the closest thing to a good ending, and even then there's significantly more emphasis on the bitter part: Sinestro, Lobo, Dove and Mister Miracle's efforts leads to the Black Lantern Corps' complete extermination and leads to the creation of new life on Earth, but the former Black Lanterns are gone forever, Sinestro is the only one who survived, and had to use Lobo as a template to recreate life because Mister Miracle killed Dove, who was supposed to be the original template. Thus, the new life created inherited Lobo's thirst for blood and violence and started an everlasting war. Although to be fair, in Lobo's case it's more of a War Is Glorious than War Is Hell.
    • Hush can be also included, considering how Batman The Silenced became the Dark Multiverse's Hush while Thomas Elliott became one of the most powerful men in Gotham instead of Bruce. By the end, Thomas Elliott & his associates sans Talia are locked up away in Batman's twisted batcave while it is implied that Batman the Silenced began his war on crime. However, Talia & Lincoln March are still in power in addition to the League of Assassins and the Court of Owls, and the city is still riled up in riots led by Tim Drake's Outsiders, which would probably take some time to recover. On a less important note, the Wayne Manor is still trashed and dirty even after Alfred inherited the Wayne fortune instead of Thomas Elliott.
    • The Death of Superman ends with Superman, Superboy, Steel and Batman dead. But the state of the world is considerably better than many others now that Lois has literally annihilated a lot of major crime. Whether or not her grief-born madness will turn into her lashing out against the powerless remains to be seen however.
    • War of the Gods ends with the first tier members of the Justice League killed, the Hecate possessed Wonder Woman trapped in chains fueled by her own magic, the people of Themyscera being persecuted for what she did, the female population itself being reduced to second-class citizens and slaves and Phobos manipulating governments to start a war against all metahumans. However, Wonder Woman is still fighting to regain control of her own body.
    • Dark Nights: Metal ends with Duke Thomas as the last person alive after the Justice League stage a final assault on Barbatos. He carves armor from the corpse of Barbatos, deeming himself the Last Knight, and promises to hunt the monsters and villains of the Dark Multiverse, which gives the setting in general the tiniest glimmer of hope.
  • Body Horror:
    • Blackest Night has Sinestro as a Black and White or Limbo Lantern, after trying to kill himself for his failure. As a result he's halfway between life and death, with one half of his body being visibly decayed.
    • Knightfall has Bruce mutilated by Azrael, all his limbs removed, his skullcap removed and his head separated from his body, but still kept alive for thirty years at Wayne Tower.
  • Book Ends: In Knightfall, after killing his allies, Bruce stands over a defeated and mortally wounded Azrael in exactly the same way as the latter had done to the former 30 years ago, complete with Nightmare Face.
  • Call-Forward:
    • Hecate's appearance when possessing Wonder Woman in War of the Gods is inspired by the much later Justice League Dark story The Witching Hour.
    • In Crisis on Infinite Earths, Alan Scott says Obsidian shouldn't have to hide his light, referring to the slow reveal that Todd is gay, which happened long after the Crisis.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: None of the other Ragnarok combatants are seen in the Dark Multiverse adaptation of The Last Days of the Justice Society, hinting that the League successfully defeated them and only lost to Surtur.
  • Continuity Nod: Knightfall has Bruce gain an epithet, "The Broken", like the other Dark Knights of the Dark Multiverse. The version in Hush is "The Silenced".
  • Crapsack World: If the world isn't already in a horrible state by the beginning of the story, it will be by the end. Even the comparatively lightest story has a universe subjugated under harsh rulers.
  • Deal with the Devil: Crisis on Infinite Earths builds off Last Days of the Justice Society and Ragnarok, and after several waves of heroes fail to stop him, Surtur spares Earth at the very last second because Alan Scott offers to become his puppet.
  • Downer Beginning: Blackest Night begins with Nekron consuming the White Light and the universe being overrun with Black Lanterns. Even the heroes' last hope only involves creating new life using one of the survivors as a template, which in the process destroys all of the Black Lanterns, meaning all of their loved ones will be gone forever. This fact is what motivates Mister Miracle to kill Dove, forcing Sinestro to use Lobo to become the new template.
  • Downer Ending: None of the stories end well, either. The heroes all lose and die, or become evil, leaving the universes doomed with absolutely no hope. Except the Dark Nights: Metal one, where Duke Thomas wins, and seems to dedicate himself to defending the Dark Multiverse as its hero.
  • Excessive Mourning: Lois in Death of Superman goes off the deep end as a result of her grief at Clark's death and the indifference to it she perceives in other people, leading to her Face–Heel Turn.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Bruce Wayne, Lois Lane and Ted Kord end up becoming villains over the course of their stories. Averted with Sinestro, who fits the role of a Tragic Hero trying to undo his mistake of letting his ego ruin the universe.

  • Fusion Dance: In The Death Of Superman, Lois Lane fuses with the Eradicator and takes on his powers to become Superwoman in Superman's place, wearing a blood-dripping S-shield and tattered cape over a black bodysuit.
  • Hope Spot: Every story has an instance of the heroes appearing to have a chance at turning the tide and averting a bleak ending before it's crushed.
    • Tourne and Bruce manage to defeat Saint Batman. However, Bruce, gone completely insane, then kills Tourne, and takes Azrael's place with the same methodology.
    • Just like in the original Death of Superman story, Superman returns and helps Lois fight Cyborg Superman. However, her actions end up killing them both. Clark dies for good, in terror of her, and she succumbs entirely to darkness.
    • Sinestro hooks Dove up to the Source Wall in order to create new life. Darkseid then convinces Mister Miracle to kill Dove, forcing Lobo to become the new template for life. This does succeed, but leaves Sinestro trapped in a universe full of beings modeled after Lobo, and unable to escape into the regular Multiverse for salvation.
    • Booster Gold confronts Blue Beetle-as-OBAC and tries to appeal to him. Kord kills him, and in his grief tells Brother Eye to remove his emotions. OBAC then defeats all the other heroes and rules over the Earth with an iron fist.
    • Changeling survives Terra's attempt on his life and tries to empathize with her. She's too far gone, though, and she kills him and Superman before rendering the Earth asunder, leaving the few remaining people to cower in fear of her forever.
    • Jay Garrick and Ted Knight come up with a plan to turn Surtur's own energy against him by creating miniature black holes with Flash's speed. With Power Girl and other heroes weakening him, it starts to work, only for Surtur to slice Jay in half and kill the entire plan. When they try to blast him into outer space, he kills Ted Knight too.
  • Horror Host: Tempus Fuginaut presents the stories and the series fits the format of a horror anthology, since every tale consists of a famous DC Comics story having events altered so things become horrific and end tragically.
  • Joker Immunity: Pointedly defied and deconstructed in the series' take on The Death of Superman, where one of the first things Lois Lane does after becoming the Eradicator is kill the Joker and she subsequently rebukes Batman for never having the will to end the Joker's carnage by taking his life before deciding to do away with Batman as well under the reasoning that his refusal to kill the Joker makes him complicit with the Joker's crimes (and because Batman was trying to stop her from taking away anyone else's Joker Immunity).
  • Kick the Dog: In "Death of Superman", Lex Luthor uses Superman's memorial fund to sponsor child soldier militias and kills his secretary on the way home from the funeral, purely to spitefully tarnish Superman's legacy.
  • Knight Templar:
    • Knightfall shows what would've happened if Azrael wasn't beaten by Bruce. In the end, Bruce comes to agree with Jean Paul.
    • Lois after she becomes Eradicator counts too. She proceeds to slaughter many criminals (and criminal organizations) including Joker and Lex Luthor, not caring about collateral damage.
    • Ted Kord is one too, especially as he absorbs all heroes and merges with Brother Eye.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: In Dark Nights: Metal, the Batman Who Laughs tortures and mocks the Joker Dragon he kept captive as a reward for aiding Barbatos in destroying the Multiverse. That earned him a face full of fire breath as soon as the heroes release him.
  • Mortality Grey Area: The What If? for Blackest Night sees Sinestro botching things due to his pride and turning his white ring on himself. However this didn't work and he becomes a Limbo or Twilight Lantern, that being a hybrid of a White and Black Lantern. In his case he's literally half-alive, half-undead.
  • Nightmare Face: In the Knightfall chapter, Batman sports one of these with glowing yellow eyes and a Slasher Smile as he stands over the defeated Azrael right before killing him.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: In The Judas Contract Nightwing manages to reach Terra with a moment of compassion, turning her against Slade, but then she starts seeking more power, boosting herself with his super serum and razes the world. This is lampshaded by Fuginaut.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Tales of the Dark Multiverse: Crisis on Infinite Earths is actually an adaptation of Last Days of the Justice Society, with Crisis on Infinite Earths only being relevant in that this New Earth was based on Earth-Two instead of Earth-One, meaning it was the Justice League that tried (and failed) to defeat Surtur.
  • Planetary Core Manipulation: Terra jacks herself up by subjecting herself to the same process that turned Slade Wilson into Deathstroke. After renaming herself Gaia, killing Slade and the Teen Titans, she cripples the Justice League by using her powers to mess with the Earth's core in order to level multiple cities simultaneously.
  • Point of Divergence:
    • Batman: Knightfall: Azrael refused to give up the cowl of Batman, defeated the Bat-Family, and reigned over Gotham for thirty years as Saint Batman. The son of Bane and Lady Shiva, Tourne, instigates an uprising and with the help of a mentally-unstable Bruce Wayne disposes of Saint Batman. However, Bruce adopts Azrael's philosophy, kills Tourne and Shiva and takes Azrael's place as Gotham's new despot.
    • The Death of Superman: Infuriated by how little the world seems to care about Superman's death, Lois Lane becomes the Eradicator and goes on an extremist crusade, killing criminals and any hero who crosses her. Her fight against Cyborg Superman gets all of the other Supermen, including Clark himself, killed, consuming Lois in never-ending vengeance. This was possible only because the Eradicator arrived on Earth after Superman's death, unable to do anything about it.
    • Blackest Night: Sinestro refused to share the power of the White Lantern, allowing Nekron to kill the White Entity and making the Black Lanterns unstoppable. The remaining heroes travel to the Source Wall in hopes of using its power to create new life. However, Mister Miracle betrays them and kills Dove, forcing Sinestro to create new life with Lobo as the template. The new universe takes on the shape of the Main Man, constantly at war with itself.
    • Infinite Crisis: Blue Beetle kills Maxwell Lord and takes control of Brother Eye. He uses its surveillance to uncover the Secret Society and avert other future events like Eclipso's rampage, but catches the attention of Alexander Luthor and Superboy Prime. Kord convinces Superboy to betray Luthor and help him stop the Infinite Crisis. Blue Beetle becomes the One-Beetle-Army-Corps and turns all other heroes into Brother Eye drones, plunging the universe into a harsh, authoritative rule.
    • Teen Titans: The Judas Contract: Robin sharing a moment of empathy with Terra convinces her to betray Deathstroke, take his Super Soldier serum, and become Gaia. She uses her newfound powers to kill the Titans, Superman, and every other hero before ruining the Earth.
    • Batman: Hush: The parents of Thomas Elliot have witnessed the deaths of Thomas and Martha Wayne in the alley, to which they brought in Bruce in their family instead of Alfred. However, instead of Thomas being the one descending into madness, Bruce is the one who falls into a life of self-loathing and revenge, driving the latter into becoming Hush.
    • Wonder Woman: War of the Gods: The Lasso of Truth fails to free Diana from Hecate's possession. Phobos moves on to plan B, which results in the deaths of Steve Trevor, Etta Candy, and Hippolyta, causing Diana to lose control entirely and pushing the Amazons into war. In the end, Hecate is imprisoned, women around the globe are turned into second-class citizens, and the US government begins a manhunt for the remaining superheroes.
    • Flashpoint: Barry's first attempt to regain his powers actually kills him. Reverse Flash runs rampant throughout the universe, screwing and manipulating the timeline as he sees fit.
    • Crisis on Infinite Earths: The Justice League are the ones to give their lives as opposed to the Justice Society. The Society ultimately fails to defeat Surtur and Alan Scott, with no other options, offers to seek out worlds for Surtur to conquer in exchange for sparing Earth. Surtur takes the deal, and while the Justice Society and Earth keep going, thousands of other populated planets fall in its place.
    • Dark Knights Metal: The Tenth Metal armor corrupts the Justice League into monsters. The last heroes on the face of the planet team up to take them down, and while they succeed, Duke Thomas is the only one to survive. He then takes their weaponry, remakes himself into the Last Knight, and hunts down Tempus Fuginaut for standing by while countless universes went to hell.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: Dark Nights: Metal ends with Duke Thomas becoming the Final Knight, traveling the Dark Multiverse in search of the gods within it, after beating the crap out of Tempus Fuginaut upon first meeting after learning he just watched as everything fell apart.
  • Rapid Aging: In Flashpoint, Professor Zoom kills Flashpoint!Enchantress by rapidly aging her to death.
  • "Ray of Hope" Ending:
    • Batman: Hush ends with Batman the Silenced beginning his war on crime, Thomas and his allies trapped in the twisted Batcave, and Gray Son defeated by Batman in the final panel, showing that while the world's still bad, it may just recover.
    • Wonder Woman: War of the Gods ends with the first tiers of the Justice League dead, Wonder Woman, still possessed by Hecate, trapped in chains powered by Hecate's own magic, the Themyscerians being prosecuted for everything she'd done, the female population itself being reduced to slaves and Phobos manipulating the world's governments into starting a war with all metahumans. The only good thing is that Wonder Woman is still fighting back to regain control of her body.
    • Averted if you've read the backstories of the Dark Multiverse's nature and purpose in Dark Nights: Metal. Even if the Silenced's story is significantly less-destructive than prior tales, his world, like other every world within the Dark Multiverse, is explicitly destined for destruction. The ending is just a prelude to that doom.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Dark Nights: Metal takes place on "Earth Metal", diverging from Earth Prime, and it has elements both horrific and outrageous. For the former six of the seven core Justice Leaguers have been mutated into draconic abominations, while the latter has Dick Grayson imbuing power rings of each color into a single, edgy looking guitar as a weapon against them.
  • Series Continuity Error: There's a bit of a justification for these in that the worlds of the Dark Multiverse aren't meant to be plausible alternate timelines, but nightmares. But still:
    • The recap of Blackest Night states that the heroes won because Sinestro shared the White Lantern powers with the other heroes, and the diverging point in the Dark Multiverse is that he selfishly chooses to keep the power instead. In the actual story, Nekron overpowered Sinestro and forcibly separated the White Entity from him, leaving Hal Jordan to take and share it with the others. Additionally, it portrays the Black Lanterns' ability to convert the living as an infection, with Lobo's healing ability preventing him from turning, when in fact they do this by ripping the victim's heart out. It also treats the Black Lanterns as if they possessed the souls of the original people actually brought back, rather then soulless corpses only masquerading as the originals they were in the original story.
    • The whole point of Dark Nights: Metal is that it involves the Dark Multiverse interacting with the regular DC Multiverse. But for the retelling for this series, it's all in the Dark Multiverse, which means you need a Dark Multiverse for the Dark Multiverse, akin to Russell's Paradox, asking if something that contains everything contains itself. Seeing as how The end of Dark Nights: Death Metal has shown that the reborn multiverse is now, in itself, an omniverse made up of multiverses within multiverses, and the Dark Multiverse still exists, the same logic could apply. (This gets vaguely alluded to, with Tempus Fuginaut referring to "the darkness beyond the darkness" and saying the story is now eating itself.)
    • In the Crisis on Infinite Earths retelling, Surtur gloats that he's already killed a younger Wonder Woman. But post-Crisis there should only be one of everyone. (In the original, Earth-2 Wonder Woman escaped being erased by ascending to Olympus, but even if Earth-1 Wonder Woman did the same thing here, she still wouldn't be available as part of the Justice League sent to the Ragnarok Dimension.) Additionally, Surtur is somehow walking around on Earth when originally he was in a Pocket Dimension where Ragnarok's outcome was tied to Earth's; had he won as the story claims, Earth would already be destroyed by his victory.
  • Slasher Smile: Earlier in the chapter on Knightfall, Azrael sports this after he defeats Batman. Bruce returns the favor, complete with glowing yellow eyes to make it a Nightmare Face when he stands over Jean-Paul at the end.
  • Sole Survivor:
    • In Blackest Night, there are only four living people: Sinestro, who became the "Limbo Lantern", having enough White Lantern energy to become immortal and even weaken the Black Lanterns but not enough to resurrect them; Dove, who is protected by her powers; Mister Miracle, who managed to escape; and Lobo, who simply can't die. By the end of the story, Sinestro is the only one to survive into the new universe, much to his chagrin.
    • In Dark Nights: Metal, there are five people (or six if you want to get technical) still alive: Duke Thomas, who hopped through universes to try and save them from Barbatos and four others — Nightwing, Hawkgirl, Hawkman, and Detective Chimp (with a suit of armor built from the remnants of Red Tornado, with his android A.I. intact), with the skeleton of Barry Allen in a Flash armor. By the end of the story, Duke is the only survivor and he opts to just wander the multiverse in search of the dark gods within it, starting with Tempus Fuginaut.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: In the original Flashpoint universe, Barry Allen's attempt to recreate his origin story by being struck by lightning and bathed in chemicals left him horribly burned and nearly killed. In the Dark Multiverse, when he tries it, the lightning just kills him.
  • Teens Are Monsters: Tara/Gaia in The Judas Contract is fifteen, and she killed millions of people, just because she could.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Lois Lane wears Superman's tattered cape (from the memorable panel of The Death of Superman) as her own cape after fusing with the Eradicator.
  • Transformation Horror: In Dark Nights: Metal, the heroes imbued with Element X armor are transformed into terrifying dragons and possessed by Barbatos to aid him in destroying the Multiverse.
  • Unwilling Robotization: In Infinite Crisis, Ted Kord specifically modifies Brother Eye to turn Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman into OMACs, they try to resist but are converted and proceed to turn most of the league. Eventually taking over the world after killing the Teen Titans.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: At the end of Dark Nights: Metal, Duke Thomas, now calling himself the Final Knight, calls out Tempus Fuginaut for standing by and allowing the worlds in the Dark Multiverse to rot away.
    Final Knight: I don't know who you are, but let's get something straight. Worlds lived. Worlds died. Everything ended. The multiverse is ash...and you watched?