As King in Black sweeps across the Marvel Universe, Knull makes his grand entrance. Could he topple Dark Nights: Death Metal’s Batman Who Laughs?
With the crossover event King in Black in full swing, there appears to be no hope for the heroes of the Marvel Universe as Knull, the dark god of symbiotes, and his army of ravenous monsters descend upon Earth. Able to easily brush past all manner of opposition put up by the defenders, Knull has instantly made an impact with fans with his unnerving grinning visage as he scours the planet for Dylan Brock. However, a recent villain that menaced the DC Multiverse in the crossover events Dark Nights: Metal and its sequel Dark Nights: Death Metal has similarly terrorized his respective comic book world with a grin and a cackle: The Batman Who Laughs. And with Death Metal recently concluded and as King in Black is just warming up, which antagonist would reign supreme in a hypothetical crossover clash of titans?
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Created by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo in 2017’s Dark Days: The Casting #1, the Batman Who Laughs was the Batman from a world within the Dark Multiverse that was infected by modified Joker toxin after killing his longtime nemesis. Retaining his keen, tactical mind and vast resources, this twisted Caped Crusader wiped out the other heroes of his Earth before steadily conquering different worlds within the Dark Multiverse and recruiting other villainous Batmen as his league of Dark Knights before they set their sights on the main DC Universe. Death Metal had the villain cosmically upgraded after transferring his consciousness to an evil Batman with the powers of Doctor Manhattan and growing even more powerful after channeling raw Crisis energy into himself.
By contrast, Knull was created by Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman in 2018’s Venom #3 as the living god of the extraterrestrial Klyntar symbiotes. Emerging from a lengthy slumber at the end of the 2019 crossover event Absolute Carnage after sensing Dylan and his rival ability to control symbiotes, Knull and his armies of symbiotes invaded Earth within a matter of minutes. While a handful of characters, like Thor, were able to give the dark god pause, Knull has plowed through any resistance as much of the planet is engulfed by his symbiotes, possessing a telepathic connection to his army so he is constantly aware of what they witness the whole time.
On his own merits, just at his base power level as the Batman Who Laughs before using Manhattan’s abilities to transform himself into the Darkest Knight, the Dark Multiverse villain is formidable but he’s still just a man; a man that single-handedly murdered the rest of the Justice League and Bat Family but against an entire cosmic army, he would have to come out with a hell of a strategy to triumph. However, with the powers of Doctor Manhattan as the Darkest Knight, giving him the power to shape matter and time itself, Knull would find himself completely outmatched; even if the symbiotes tried to bond with the Darkest Knight, he could dispel them with a single thought and wipe Knull from existence.
A God of Thunder and Herald of Galactus have each stood up to Knull with varying results but visibly more effective than many of their counterparts. The Darkest Knight has taken on the combined efforts of the DC Multiverse’s greatest heroes, created his own multiverse with the wave of a hand, and killed omnipotent gods with his bare hands. Up against the standard Batman Who Laughs, Knull takes the fight and takes the fight easy but against the Darkest Knight? The cosmic, evil Bruce Wayne wins out every time.
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