Batman #131 introduces an alternate Gotham but with familiar faces

Batman #131 art
Batman #131 art (Image credit: DC)

The main Batman run finished 2022 with a bang. Literally. The Failsafe storyline ended when the titular robot used an alien weapon on the Dark Knight, appearing to have blown him to smithereens. Even before issue Batman #130 wrapped, however, we saw that Batman wasn't destroyed/dead at all. Actually (and for the second time in eight months) he was only teleported away… but to where?

Since Batman writer Chip Zdarsky was, er, less than forthcoming in a recent chat with Newsarama, we've had to wait until issue #131 dropped on January 2 to even get close to an answer. And though Batman's precise location is still a mystery, the issue did reveal some pretty interesting details about the Caped Crusader's new circumstances. Read on to find out what they are…

Spoilers for Batman #131 ahead

a page from Batman #131 (Image credit: DC)

Batman #131 is written by Zdarsky, drawn by Mike Hawthorne, inked by Adriano di Benedetto, colored by Tomeu Morey, and lettered by Clayton Cowles. It begins where #130 leaves off, in a Crime Alley we've speculated is in an alternate-universe Gotham. This appears to be true, as a couple of wandering Gothamites see Batman and have no idea who he is. 

Still healing after his confrontation with Failsafe, Batman stumbles out of Crime Alley and meets someone readers both know well and not at all. That's a bit of a theme in this issue, but Batman's first friend in this universe is really unfamiliar. He claims to be Batman's confidant Jim Gordon, except that he can hear Batman's thoughts and does some light fourth-wall breaking.

Oh, and he's a skeleton.

a page from Batman #131 (Image credit: DC)

We're not even going to speculate what that means, so let's just move on to Batman's next stop out of Crime Alley. Always the protector of the innocent no matter the universe, Batman notices an apartment under siege and decides to intervene. There, he encounters a grim but unscarred Harvey Dent, 'roided out on Bane's own Venom drug and dispensing warped, Judge Death-style ‘Justice.' Persecuting the innocent alongside Judge Dent is this world's version of the GCPD.

Batman holds his own against these homicidal detectives, managing to give one of the apartment's residents a chance to escape, but eventually, his enemies overcome him. Firefly, a surprise addition to the GCPD team, nearly finishes the Dark Knight with his flame thrower, but an unexpected ally gets Bruce out of the apartment. This is a character we'll come to know as Jewel, and it appears she is a character unique to this universe.

Meanwhile, across town, one of this Gotham's lowlifes is about to reach the end of a poorly executed scheme. This thug, Milo, has been ripping off the criminal underworld, and now faces the wrath of one of its deadliest bosses, a warped variant of Selina Kyle. 

a page from Batman #131 (Image credit: DC)

But just as this non-Catwoman is about to sink her claws into Milo, she gets a call from her boss: a masked and super-suited mad scientist only referred to as ‘Red Mask.' Bruce Wayne has been spotted in Gotham, Red Mask tells Selina, and it's now her number one priority to deliver him to the villain.

We find Batman and Skeleton Jimbo one last time before the issue ends, as the Dark Knight and his potentially imagined companion discuss a possible explanation for Batman's current whereabouts. And though Batman still doesn't pinpoint where he is in the multiverse, he has a theory on why he's there. As an act of compassion (read #130 for more details), Failsafe sent Bruce to a world without Batman, a world that the robot knew needed a Bruce Wayne.

Or, as Bruce himself says, "A Gotham to save."

a page from Batman #131 (Image credit: DC)

Hold on; the issue isn't over. After the first chapter of the new Batman arc concludes, we move to the second backup story of Zdarsky's run, this one drawn by Miguel Mendosa, colored by Roman Stevens, and lettered by Clayton Cowles.

The story sees Tim Drake investigating Batman's disappearance, with a little help from his pal Jon Kent, AKA Superman. Regretfully, Supes can't tell Tim much about the alien gun Failsafe used to teleport Batman away, despite the fact it was stashed in the Fortress of Solitude. 

However, there is something that Jon can tell Tim: whatever the gun is, it's got something to do with the classic Superman villain Toyman.

Want more stories that shake up the Bat-status quo? Check out Newsarama's list of the best alternate Dark Knights that DC has to offer.

Grant DeArmitt
Freelance writer

Grant DeArmitt is a NYC-based writer and editor who regularly contributes bylines to Newsarama. Grant is a horror aficionado, writing about the genre for Nightmare on Film Street, and has written features, reviews, and interviews for the likes of PanelxPanel and Monkeys Fighting Robots. Grant says he probably isn't a werewolf… but you can never be too careful.