It’s no secret that Batman has a high opinion of himself and believes there’s no one better suited to solve Gotham’s crime problems. In a cruel twist of fate, Batman’s former partner Dick Grayson suffers from Batman’s arrogant plan to save himself in the Batman Beyond universe.

Batman’s particular brand of superhero vigilantism continuously activates his narcissism and belief that he needs to develop a plan where he alone remains the “Caped Crusader” in perpetuity. This leads to the idea, as depicted in 2011’s Detective Comics #27 by Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy, of the Batman “Rule of Two.” Every 27 years, a Batman clone “activates” a subsequent clone and passes on all necessary information for the new clone to survive before they also self-destruct. Fortunately, as shown in John Ridley and Nick Derington’s Future State: The Next Batman, Wayne comes to his senses and realizes that the endless cloning is unnecessary as long as worthy individuals, such as Timothy Fox, wear the cape and cowl.

Nightwing Becomes a Victim of Amanda Waller — and Batman’s Mistakes

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In the Batman Beyond universe, however, the cloning plan is carried out to its logical end — with major consequences for Dick Grayson. In the collected edition Batman Beyond: Hush Beyond by Adam Beechen, Ryan Benjamin, John Stanisci, David Baron, and Travis Lanham, it’s not Bruce Wayne who is worried about the future of Neo-Gotham’s safety and security — it’s Amanda Waller, who’ll do anything to keep the world safe from evil. When Dick Grayson’s Nightwing is gravely injured in a team-up with Batman, Waller doesn’t hesitant to take DNA samples from the hospitalized Grayson. As Bruce Wayne initially contemplated for himself in the main DC timeline, Waller then uses the samples to generate a Nightwing clone army that she could deploy at will and indefinitely — even after she passes away.

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The problem with cloning programs is that, without proper training and indoctrination, the clones are always susceptible to developing freewill and choosing their own paths. In the case of Waller’s Nightwing clone army, one clone escapes and uses his retained knowledge of Batman and Nightwing to wreak mass havoc across Neo-Gotham — as the new Hush. It’s interesting to see how the issue of Batman’s legacy is developed and contemplated across all three titles. In the main DC timeline, Bruce Wayne realizes that others are fully capable of protecting Gotham and upholding his brand of superhero vigilantism, even if they do it in a way that is personal to themselves.

Conversely, in the alternate Batman Beyond timeline, Wayne’s clone program idea is co-opted and actualized by Waller. The only difference is that Batman is swapped out for an unknowing Dick Grayson — who, after being injured, quit the “superhero business” altogether, but now must suffer the nightmare of his own legacy being corruped for nefarious ends.

Check out Batman Beyond: Hush Beyond, available now from DC Comics!

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