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DC Unleashes A Horrifying Cthulu Batman In City Of Madness

DC Comics is sending Bruce Wayne on a new cosmic horror story in "Batman: City of Madness," a series that's set to be one of the Dark Knight's most visually stunning adventures yet.

Batman has benefited from some fascinating storytelling approaches recently, taking him in a number of surprising directions. Ram V and Rafael Albuquerque's run on "Detective Comics" has placed Batman in a gothic horror world where he's examining the hidden history of Gotham City. Meanwhile, "Brave and the Bold" has allowed a variety of writers and artists to explore unique spins on Batman, including a future version of the hero in Dan Mora's excellent "Heroes of Tomorrow" story.

Now, multiple Eisner Award winner Christian Ward gets the chance to put his stamp on the Dark Knight and Gotham City with "Batman: City of Madness." Ward, who recently brought his cosmic horror touch to DC in "Aquaman: Andromeda," has been working on this project for a long time, even before DC committed to it. And as you can see from the first look at the issue, which we have below, readers who have wanted Ward to bring his distinct style to Batman should be excited about what's coming next.

Batman: City of Madness is inspired by some great Batman comics

Back in 2022, writer/artist Christian Ward tweeted a piece of art depicting a tentacle-faced Batman, saying that he'd love to bring his cosmic horror Batman to the page "one day." Ward's wish ended up coming true with DC Comics' announcement that he will write and draw "Batman: City of Madness," a three-issue, 48-page prestige format comic book series as part of DC's Black Label imprint. Ward described the "City of Madness" concept as his "love letter to Batman and a pseudo-sequel to "'Arkham Asylum: Serious House on a Serious Earth,'" with the additional note that "I have absolutely not come to play." In DC's press release, Ward called the story a tribute to classic comics like "Batman: Arkham Asylum" by Grant Morrison, Dave McKean, and Gaspar Saladino, and "Batman: Gothic" by Morrison, Klaus Janson, John Costanza, and Steve Buccellato.

The first issue of "City of Madness" will see Batman explore a twisted version of Gotham called Gotham Below, a living nightmare fueled by the fear and hatred in Gotham City. The door between Gotham and Gotham Below is guarded by the Court of Owls. The story will see the Dark Knight take on an alternate version of himself from the literal underbelly of Gotham City, a dark version of Batman who will escape his realm and try to find a Robin of his own. The events will lead to an unlikely team-up between Batman and the Court of Owls, with the mysterious and powerful secret society realizing it shares the same mission after the door to Gotham Below opens and nightmare Batman is released: Keep the city safe and stop the darkness from spreading.

Ward is bringing some superstar artists along for the ride

While Ward is writing and drawing the series himself, DC has assembled an extraordinary team of artists to draw variant covers for "Batman: City of Madness" #1. Ward's primary cover for the book features Batman, a hint of his nightmare version, and the Court of Owls. Additionally, Ward's original art for his pitch from 2022, featuring the series' evil, Cthulu-looking Batman will be used as a 1:50 variant for the first issue.

Legendary artist Bill Sienkiewicz contributes a variant featuring Batman perched on a pillar while looking at his dark reflection, while Martin Simmonds, best known for his stellar work on "The Department of Truth," goes all out on his nightmarish cover, the first issue's 1:25 ratio variant.

"Batman: City of Madness" is set to be a bold, stunning entry exploring a different side of Gotham City. Issue #1 arrives in comic stores on October 10, 2023. The official descriptiuon for the series follows below.

"Buried deep beneath Gotham City there exists another Gotham. This Gotham Below is a living nightmare, populated by twisted mirrors of our Gotham's denizens, fueled by the fear and hatred flowing down from above. For decades, the doorway between the cities has been sealed and heavily guarded by the Court of Owls. But now the door swings wide, and the twisted version of the Dark Knight has escaped...to trap and train a Robin of his own. Batman must form an uneasy alliance with the Court and its deadly allies to stop him—and to hold back the wave of twisted super-villains, nightmarish versions of his own nemeses, each one worse than the last, that's spilling into his streets!"