The DC Elseworlds’ franchise has been credited with giving readers some of the universe’s most amazing iterations. Taking place outside of regular DC canon, it has showcased some of the best stories and characters. The thrill of a new world is always one to behold, especially when it involves crossovers. That’s exactly what happens when we are introduced to Vampire Batman.
Batman is already a pretty fearsome figure, so imagining him as Vampire Batman is something for the fright books. But what’s his backstory, and why would the Dark Knight become even darker?
Vampire Batman: Origins
The story of vampire Batman begins in a parallel DC universe where The Caped Crusader finds out Gotham is overrun with vampires. However, it’s not just any run of the mill bloodsucker, but it’s The Great Count Dracula himself.
Along with his minions, he feeds off Gotham’s homeless, hunting them for sport. A couple of encounters with the Transylvanian show Batman that he needs more than his skills to fight the vampire.
He then decides to become a vampire himself, fighting fire for fire. He does defeat the Count but then undergoes a horrific transformation as a creature of the night. Despite his good intentions, Vampire Batman cannot control his lust for blood. He eventually kills Joker, an action he regrets. Forcing Commissioner Gordon and Alfred to stake him, he puts an end to his reign.
This origin story’s events are captured in the Batman and Dracula trilogy, showcasing the rivalry between the two characters.
Vampire Batman: Red Rain (1991)
Doug Moench wrote the first book with penciling and inking from Kelley Jones and Malcolm Jones III. After a couple of homeless people turn up dead in Gotham, Batman investigates the murders. He finds that their throats have been slashed and proceeds to find out just why.
The discovery shows that the murders were carried out by a family of vampires, led by Dracula. He is helped in his quest to end Dracula’s spree by a rogue vampire named Tanya. Batman gains the strength he needs to take on Dracula’s minions while still being human after being bitten.
In the ensuing fight, Batman lures the minions into the Batcave, where he sets off explosives. He kills them all, but Wayne Manor is destroyed as a result. The final confrontation with Dracula has Batman impale him on a wooden utility pole.
While Batman succeeds in killing Dracula, it’s not before the vampire drains all of his blood. Batman is no longer human at this point, informing Alfred of his immortality.
Doug Moench and Kelley Jones return with the trilogy’s second installment, with inking by John Beatty. Following the events of the first book, there are some remaining survivors from Dracula’s vampire minions. Without a leader, they are taken over by The Joker, and they now follow his orders.
The horde takes over most of the crime families in Gotham. Batman teams up with Catwoman, Commissioner Gordon, Alfred, and GCPD officers turned vampire hunters to take down the former criminals and the rest of the horde.
The vampire hunters take down most of the underworld now turned vampires. and soon, the horde is diminished to just a few.
Batman and Catwoman take the fight to a warehouse with the rest of the vampires. However, Catwoman takes a bolt for Batman, resulting in her death. Batman becomes enraged at her end and kills the Joker, draining his blood in anger.
He stakes the Joker to make sure he doesn’t come back as a vampire but is horrified at his actions. Unable to control his bloodlust, he makes Commissioner Gordon and Alfred stake him so he can’t kill anymore.
Crimson Mist (1998)
Moench, Jones, and Beatty complete the trilogy with 1998’s Crimson Most. In this story, after the death of Batman, the city self implodes into a crime wave. Several criminals suspect the Dark Knight is no more, giving them free rein.
Without any other options, Alfred awakens Batman, removing the stake from his heart. However, his bloodlust and prolonged death see Batman descend into madness. He begins to attack the criminals, draining them of blood and decapitating them. This includes his own rogues, leaving just Two-Face and Killer Croc to escape his spree.
The two decide it’s time to end Batman. They join forces with Alfred and Gordon who grimly agree this is no longer the Batman they knew. They track Batman to the batcave with the plan to lure him to a spot where they can destroy the cave and expose him to the sun.
However, things take an awful turn when the criminals attack Gordon and Alfred. Batman by now is almost dead, but Alfred gives himself up so Batman can receive the strength to save Gordon. Brutally impaling Killer Croc on a rock and stabbing Two Face’s two faces with arrows, Batman implores Gordon to go ahead with the explosives. Gordon agrees but ends up crushed by the falling rocks.
After Batman concluded that all the crime had been eradicated in Gotham and all vampires, Batman finally steps into the sunlight. In his last moments, he hopes he can finally find some peace, as it has eluded him since he ever became a vampire. The sunlight touches him, and Batman disintegrates into dust.
Vampire Batman: Legacy
The Batman and Dracula trilogy has been widely regarded as one of the best entries in the Elseworlds’ franchise. It’s even been said that no other Batman title under the Elseworlds’ imprint has been able to match up to its reception.
The reception also cited how great it was to see Batman in a new take and how well built the Gotham of that universe turned out. It has been recreated in various formats, including the animated movie Batman vs. Dracula. It is also one of the few Batman alternate universes alluded to in regular DC canon.