REVIEW: ‘The Batman Who Laughs,’ Issue #2

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The Batman Who Laughs #2 - But Why Tho?

The Batman Who Laughs #2 follows the epic Dark Knights: Metal event from DC Comics, orchestrated by Scott Snyder. Snyder returns to the character with this new six issue mini-series where he is joined by artist Jock (Wytches), colorist David Baron, and letterer Sal Cipriano.

Previously, Batman hoped to be able to team up with the Joker to take down the Batman Who Laughs and another mysterious and lethal Batman, the Grim Knight, who has come to Gotham. However, the Joker shoots himself in the heart and exposes Bruce to his deadly toxin, the same toxin that created the Batman Who Laughs. Now Bruce and Alfred must scramble to keep the Joker alive and keep the toxin, now flowing through Bruce, at bay while he takes a journey through his many different realities of the Multiverse seeing all the possible outcomes his life could have taken. While Bruce is investigating the various deaths of his multiverse counterparts, the Batman Who Laughs, with the help of the Grim Knight, breaks into Wayne Tower and faces down Batman.

Dark Knights: Metal was a convoluted mess of an event but I loved every moment of it. This series takes a lot of the concepts created in that event and expands on them. The dark multiverse and dark matter play major roles in the story similar to how they did in Dark Knights: Metal. The Batman Who Laughs is the darkest version of Bruce including every other Batman of the Dark Multiverse.

Often, Batman stories play on Bruce’s brooding dark nature and his constant moral dilemmas. Bruce has toed the line multiple times within comics, TV, and movies like The Killing Joke and most recently The DC Universe’s Titans. The theme of the dark potential within all of us is a staple for Batman comics and particularly his unique relationship with the Joker and the dichotomies they represent.

This classic theme is exponentially more interesting when the Joker now possesses all of Batman’s brute strength, genius intellect, and life experiences. This is Batman’s most dangerous foe because metaphorically speaking, Bruce’s greatest adversary has always been himself and ultimately, his inability to stop being Batman.

Snyder has said in the past this will be one of his final Batman stories and while that might be true, you can feel his passion for the character jumping off the page. One of the things I have greatly enjoyed about Snyder’s work in the past is his ability to make Bruce a detective. Sometimes Batman comics focus more on action sequences and the bizarre characters that populate his world than his deduction abilities. Snyder is mostly able to combine those elements here with relative ease.

While the story is still difficult to follow at times, I do think Batman fans who missed out on Dark Knights: Metal will be able to follow along well enough. The brilliant designs of the Batman Who Laughs and now the Grim Knight elevate the dark story.

So many of the panels remind me of other famous Batman stories like The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Gotham by Gaslight. Both Snyder and Jock’s horror roots show in the overall tone of the book. While the panels are significantly less gory than other horror books, in a lot of ways this still feels like a horror comic. Additionally, Cipriano’s lettering, particularly in regards to The Batman Who Laughs dialogue, is fantastic. The ability to create unease from lettering alone is difficult and the fact it is pulled off so brilliantly should be commended.

Overall, if you enjoyed Dark Knights: Metal you should absolutely pick up The Batman Who Laughs #2. That being said, even if you didn’t but you are a Batman fan, particularly of his darker stories, you should pick up this book.

The Batman Who Laughs #2 is available in comic book stores and digital retailers everywhere January 16, 2019.

The Batman Who Laughs #2
4.5

TL;DR

Overall, if you enjoyed Dark Knights: Metal you should absolutely pick up The Batman Who Laughs #2. That being said, even if you didn’t but you are a Batman fan, particularly of his darker stories, you should pick up this book.