Batman The Murder Machine is the second of Dark Batmen origin tie-in series for Metal. It was written by Frank Tieri and James Tynion IV, and drawn by Riccardo Federici. If you haven’t read Metal, then I suggest you do. But know that at the end of Metal #2, Batman from the Dark Multiverse came through a portal. The first origin issue was Batman The Red Death. In that issue, a Batman was trying to steal the Speed Force from The Flash. In this issue, Things aren’t so clear cut.
Here, we have a Batman that is constantly re-watching a recording of his rogues gallery killing Alfred. The Justice League try to get him to come to terms with it. Instead, he approaches Victor Stone about something he had been working on. He had created scan of Alfred’s mind, but needed Cyborg’s help bringing it online. Thinking Batman could use his father figure, Cyborg helps him. Of course, things go terribly wrong.
This AI Alfred is able to replicate and reproduce himself (don’t ask how, it’s not important or explained), and ends up killing all of Batman’s enemies. “Alfred” is taking the whole “protect” Bruce thing a little too seriously. Cyborg wants to help Batman shut “Alfred” down, but Batman doesn’t want to essentially kill his father. Like a vampire, “Alfred” keeps asking Batman to let him in. Bat man does, and he then becomes a machine, as “Alfred” removes his fears and emotions.
After this Cyborg gathered the League to try to stop him, but they were defeated by Batman. Cyborg made one last attempt to reason with Batman, hoping there would be some shred of humanity left in him. For his efforts, Cyborg got his head yanked off.
In Earth-0, Cyborg is in the Watchtower, having a conversation with his dad in Detroit when The Murder Machine attacks him. Cyborg thinks he’s after the tech in the Watchtower, but really, he is after what is contained by Vic’s dad at STAR Labs. They fight for a while, but then the rest of Dark Batmen show up, and subdue Cyborg. The Batman Who Laughs makes a comment that had Cyborg known how to wield the metal, then they all would be in trouble. As is, they remake the Watchtower.
I liked the premise behind Batman The Murder Machine. Sure, Batman’s mission, his life, was shaped by the death of his parents. However, they are not the people that truly raised him. That would be Alfred. Alfred is the person that guided Bruce through his formative years. So, what happens when Alfred is no longer a positive influence? Sure, this is not the real Alfred. But to a grieving Bruce, it might as well be. It looks like Alfred, it sounds like Alfred. It might as well be Alfred. How could Batman deny the will of his figurative father?
This also sticks with the ongoing theme in Metal that I find interesting. So many stories are ended because Batman just finds a way out of trouble. That is not the case here. The Dark Batmen are on Earth-0 because Batman tried to go it alone and failed. Through the first two origins, the Dark Batmen exist because of a failure. A really bad day that they could not recover from.
Again, I encourage you to read Metal and these tie-ins. This is shaping up to be a fun ride.