Batman vs Batman and Batman.
Originally solicited as a six issue miniseries, The Batman Who Laughs was extended by a seventh issue and spin-off, The Grim Knight. Since The Grim Knight is a direct extension of the primary story, I consider it crucial to include in the review. Spinning out of the events of Dark Nights : Metal, this is the return of perhaps the most dangerous villain that Batman has ever faced, the Batman Who Laughs.
As a recap for those who don’t know, the Batman Who Laughs is an evil version of Bruce Wayne from a dark multiverse. He is a Batman who kills the Joker and is infected with a secret toxin in the Joker’s heart that is targeted for Batman—to turn him into The Joker. What is the result, as described within this series, is a Batman who is an apex predator. A Batman with no morals, no ethics, or rules. The pinnacle of a Batman who always wins.
The Batman Who Laughs arrives with a plot to not only kill the Joker but to enact a plan to bring about the destruction of Gotham. His plan is quite insidious, and for the sake of spoilers, I won’t go into details here. Batman is outwitted, outmatched, and outskilled in almost every way possible. This is, after all, Batman that he has to fight. Accompanied by another evil Batman, the Grim Knight is a Batman is who the absolute best in using all sorts of firearms and explosives. Our Batman has to enlist the help of Commission Gordon and his genius psychopathic son, James Gordon Jr. Batman admittedly does not know how to beat the Batman Who Laughs and has to go to extreme methods to find a way to get on the same playing field.
The Batman Who Laughs starts up with a high-paced scene and never lets up. Snyder is quite adept at writing stories that go really big. He consistently writes high-stakes stories to drive drama and changes with the characters that he is dealing with. Given the peril he puts characters through, you are left wondering from issue to issue, “There is just no way he is going to win. He’s going to lose. There is no way out.” Scotty Snyder is accompanied by James Tynion IV on The Grim Knight one shot help flesh out this other evil Batman. Tynion and Snyder work so well together, it can be hard at times to see where one ends and the other begins in terms of how they are telling these stories. This is a great trait, as it helps keep the whole story feeling seamless.
Art duties are handled by Jock, with David Baron on colors. Jock’s style works very well with the Batman Who Laughs. His style can encapsulate grim, fear, roughness. Baron’s colors compliments this very well. The world in this book does not feel clean or crisp. It builds on the roughness, makes it more palpable. Within The Grim Knight, art is handled by the incomparable Edwardo Risso of 100 Bullets fame. His style is pulpy and gritty, a fitting addition to Jock within the context of this story. Sal Cipiano handles lettering throughout all of the issues, which is incredibly important. Cipiano shows why lettering is important. There are critical methods in how this story unravels that are 100% dependent on the work of the letterer, to convey the progression of a particular plot line throughout this book. He does a fantastic job here, essentially acting as an stand-in for the reader in how to interpret what is going on.
Final word on this is that this is a must-read. Seeing stories where Batman has to work to really earn that win is a great experience. Seeing stories where it’s unclear if Batman really earned that win is a greater experience. Pick up The Batman Who Laughs and get ready for the next chapter in Batman’s universe.
The Batman Who Laughs
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