Comic Book Review: The Batman Who Laughs

Details: More information can be found here:

Score: 8/10

There is only one western comic book that I need to read each time it’s released and that is this book. The Batman Who Laughs is a character who originally appeared in the Dark Metal miniseries and has gone on to be one of DC Comics most popular characters. Though there be haters, I love this character. I love this character because I love character development and you cannot have this character without exploring the Batman mythos (which I also love) and questioning again what it truly means to be Batman.

The above video does a great job explaining the character, but I’ll offer a quick and dirty explanation, too. The Batman Who Laughs comes from an alternate universe that belonged to a number of parallel universes known as the Dark Multiverse. Basically, these universes were nightmares come to life. The Batman Who Laughs is one of these nightmares. He is Bruce Wayne/Batman in a universe where he finally crossed the line and killed the Joker. Unfortunately, the Joker kept a very specific kind of toxin in his heart that releases upon death. This toxin infected that Batman, maintaining his brilliant mind, but removed all morality. The Batman Who Laughs is a Batman who lives only to win by any means necessary. His only purpose is to defeat all threats in the cruelest way imaginable. Now, this evil Batman has entered Gotham and Batman must try to figure out his evil plan while battling his own demons.

The best part of this character is that it necessitates the exploration of Batman’s history. This evil Batman has all of Bruce’s memories and training and twists them to something dark. Batman is one of the greatest martial artists in the DC universe. What if Batman fought with a complete disregard for life? You get to see that here. Moreover, the Batman Who Laughs employs other evil Batmen from parallel universes. Batman literally has to fight against himself.

Often times, you’ll see in movies and books the protagonist hallucinating or debating with the darker aspects of his personality. In this book, that’s the whole story. This story is an exploration of everything evil about Batman or everything potentially evil about Batman. It’s an exploration of Batman’s greatest fears, which is primarily to lose control and cross the line. It’s fascinating and as a Batman fanboy, greatly enjoyable.

Something else I also like about this book is the tone. This book takes on a heavy horror tone. There is action and fighting, but the Batman Who Laughs is presented as the monster in this story. Jock does a great job drawing him in this creepy way, often times just parts of him. You don’t really get a great look at him in the beginning, but as the story progresses, you see more of him visually and narratively.

The art is good, but not great. The lines are a little messy. It does fit the tone of the story though.

Overall, I love Batman and any villain that lets us revisit the history of the character and provide a new way to look at Batman is welcome to me. The Batman Who Laughs is a must read book. At the time of writing this, six issues are out with a seventh to come out this week. It was supposed to be a six book series but I guess it did so well they chose to add another issue.

Score: 8/10

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