The DC multiverse has been expanded and explored thanks to the Elseworlds imprint of stories. This has included Batman, who in some realities has become a different kind of hero, focusing on a different sort of criminal from earlier in the 20th century.
Check out some versions of the DC Universe, Batman first appeared in a different time period. But what happened to the Dark Knight in these alternate realities?
Jen Van Meter, Cliff Chiang and Tommy Lee Edwards’ Batman: The Golden Streets of Gotham imagines a world Batman was a hero to the working class during the Industrial Revolution. After spending years helping construct some of the early railroad lines, Bruno Vanekow returns to Gotham City to discover that his parents were both killed in an accidental fire caused by the negligence of a higher-up. Bruno meets and befriends Barbara Gordon (a journalist) and Selina Kyle (a Union Organizer and daughter of the Mayor). He even becomes inspired by Selina to seek justice for his family himself.
Becoming Batman, he robs the rich to give to the poor — becoming a wanted man in the process. While he (and a mysterious figure disguised as a cat) make their way through Gotham, a serial killer begins targeting women across the city. Barbara and Selina both find out that Bruno is Batman, and they try to warn Bruno that he’s about to be blamed not just for the actions of the serial killer, but even the fire that killed his parents. His connections to the union leaders to additional scrutiny against their gatherings from the authorities, causing a riot and leading to Bruno’s near arrest.
Bruno ends up hiding in Alfred Pennyworth’s Theater, even befriending a young Dick Grayson. Working with the local officer James Gordon, Bruno is able to discover the identity of the killer — Jack Smart, who’d worked at the building where Bruno’s parents had died and had been driven mad by the deaths he’d witnessed. Disguised as a clown, he attacks the man who’d owned the factory and accidentally set off the fire in the first place — Joe Chillingham. Batman is able to defeat Smart however and save Chillingham, and Jack dies in a fire he caused at Chillingham’s home. Going to the public, Selina reveals her identity as the Cat and helps get her father arrested for his crimes. However, Bruno is also forced to reveal his identity and is arrested for his earlier crimes.
Batman: Scar of the Bat by Max Allan Collins and Euardo Barreto focuses on the story of Eliot Ness, a former government agent who was in Chicago in 1928 — during the era of prohibition. Working with his brother-in-law Alexander Jamie, Ness worked to bring down the biggest crime boss of the era, Al Capone. He ends up working with a group of other men, including George Koken (a hunter from northern Canada) and Danny Rasher (a former soldier who wanted vengeance for Capone killing his brother years earlier).
After speaking with Ness and talking about taking inspiration from a film about a bat creature, Rasher appears to become a vigilante called Batman and intimidates one of Capone’s men into turning over the address of a major distillery in Chicago. While working with the rest of the squad and infiltrating the Chicago crime scene, this Batman ends up using his information to bring down more and more of Capone’s lieutenants — notably even using a baseball bat as his chief weapon. This causes Alexander to fear what the association with their formal investigation could look like if Batman was tied to them, forcing Ness to try and hunt him down.
Growing impatient with the deaths Capone levied out around town, Batman ends up attacking Capone directly and killing a number of his men with a Tommy Gun. Thinking that he’s discovered Rasher is the Batman, Capone orders a hit on him — which ends with Koken injured and Rasher critically wounded. It’s revealed that it was actually Ness himself who’d been the Batman all along, using this identity to help speed up their investigation. Ness takes revenge, killing the men who’d attacked him and the others. As a dying request, Rasher makes Ness plant the Batman equipment in his apartment, to avoid Ness coming under suspicion. Ness continues his work as a federal agent and helps put Capone away.
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Elseworlds stories revealed what would have happened if Batman had been born in different time periods across American history