The Batman Who Laughs by Scott Snyder

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Title: The Batman Who Laughs.
Writer(s): Scott Snyder & James Tynion IV (The Grim Knight #1).
Penciller(s): Jock & Eduardo Risso (The Grim Knight #1).
Colourist(s): David Baron & Dave Stewart (The Grim Knight #1).
Letterer(s): Sal Cipriano.
Publisher: DC Comics.
Format: Hardcover.
Release Date: September 3rd 2019.
Pages: 172.
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.
ISBN13: 9781401294038.
My Overall Rating: ★★★★☆.

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Is happiness a state of complete release of all worries in the world? Is it an indicator of one’s own satisfaction with his behaviour and accomplishments in life? What happens when you live a life where you simply can’t indulge such a luxury? Writer Scott Snyder continues to develop the complex ramifications of his dark multiverse by looking into the mind of one of the deadliest villains to have ever been created. Drawing upon all of his work, from The Black Mirror to The Court of Owls, he creates one of the most terrifying stories that pushes Batman on the verge of insanity looking for solutions to the impending end that is promised in this war where only one Batman comes out alive. This isn’t about revenge or about proving a point. This is a battle about winning or losing against one another. And Batman does not plan to go down gently.

What is The Batman Who Laughs about? Following the events of Dark Nights: Metal, the dark multiverse is introduced to the DC Universe and paved the way for dark versions of Batman to reign havoc. Among these alternate evil creatures born from the fears of people is the Batman Who Laughs from Earth-22 who succumbed to the Joker’s toxin and lost his sanity. By far the most chilling version of Batman, he’s now enacting a sinister plan across the Multiverse and has Bruce Wayne right at the heart of it. Although the future now lies in Batman’s hands as he’s forced into contemplating breaking the one rule he’d never break, the Batman Who Laughs brings into play another Batman whose mere presence crushes all hopes of life: the Grim Knight. Facing these deadly threats, Batman now has to play a very perilous game and seek help in the dark corners of Gotham if he wants to win this war.

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Collecting The Batman Who Laughs #1-7 and The Batman Who Laughs: The Grim Knight #1, this limited mini-series is Scott Snyder’s most personal story as he looks into exploring the little voice in the back of everyone’s head, the one that reduces everyone into nothingness and irrelevancy. By far the most gruesome Bat-centric story—definitely rated R—the level of violence escalates to unprecedented levels. There are limbs sliced off, heads rolling down mountains of corpses, and an incredible amount of blood covering each page of this story. You just can’t help but fall into a never-ending loop of insanity as Batman struggles to find the right approach to taking down the Batman Who Laughs and the Grim Knight. As expected from Scott Snyder, this is what writer Grant Morrison would have created in his prime but with a bit more trouble gauging the pacing and the amount of exposition in his stories.  It’s his ambition and endeavor that made me enjoy this more than I should’ve but the ideas explored remain sublime in every way possible.

Throughout the story, Scott Snyder also explores the meaning of happiness: what is it and how do you attain it? With the Batman Who Laughs’s personal experience, Batman receives a whole oratory on his own perception of happiness and the symbolism behind the bat he wears honorably on his chest. He thus limps his way through the creature’s torturous plan and slowly realizes that he might indeed be the worse Batman in the multiverse and there’s nothing he can do about it. To accentuate the dread, the despair, and the chaos within himself, Scott Snyder leans onto artist Jock’s phenomenal visual style. Relying a lot on shadows, smudges, and vibrant contrasts, his artwork relays the horrors that Batman lives through as well as his continuous and strainful battle with insanity.

Letterer Sal Cipriano also plays a big role in contributing to the overall theme of this volume as he utilizes a horror calligraphy in red for The Batman Who Laughs but also for Batman when he is pulled into the lunacy. He even leaves some letters in white, conveying a coded message that expresses the terror within Bruce Wayne and how he’s trying as well as he can to hold on to reality and remain sane. The colours by David Baron also give the story a peculiar and atmospheric tone. It’s safe to say that this creative team made sure to work in sync and explore the madness taking place right in Bruce Wayne’s mind.

The Batman Who Laughs is a ghastly tale that mutates Batman into his worse nightmare to outplay a deadly scheme drawn by a monster straight from the underbellies of the Dark Multiverse.


EXHIBITA

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Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!

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27 comments

  • For a moment there I thought that cover showed Judge Death from Judge Dredd…but then I realised, that’s not possible. Wow…though, this sounds like one heck of a dark and brutal tale. As I am one who usually tends to have a preference for all things dark, I am adding this one to my list. It will be interesting to see a really gruesome Batman comic, especially with all the scenes that you are describing here! 😊 Terrifice review as always Lashaan!

    Liked by 3 people

    • That’s a fantastic comparison! You got me wanting to dive into some Judge Dredd stories now hahah But man… The Batman Who Laughs is one creature you don’t want to mess with. Even the Joker has nothing on him. I’m glad that they got around to creating him, giving the DC Universe something almost purely “horror” to add to their repertoire. Thank you for your kind words, sir!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Haha, honestly I haven’t read Dredd in quite a while myself. Maybe it’s time to get back to him now😊
        But this one is definitely on my list now. In fact the next time I’m visiting my comic book shop in Utrecht I’m going to see if he has this one. You have me way too interested now😊😊

        Liked by 2 people

  • Well, you know I wasn’t the biggest fan of Metal but the Batman Who Laughs did intrigue me and Snyder and Jock made a great team on Black Mirror. I’ve just bought the individual issues in a digital sale so will be diving into this shortly, especially as it sets things up going into the new Batman/Superman series which I think starts next week. Excellent review as always Lashaan, keep ’em coming!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think you’ll probably take more notice on some flaws (at least the ones I discretely mentioned in this review) but my enjoyment of Snyder’s material made me, after a day of rest from completing the story, to enjoy it more than hate it. And indeed, the next chapter for this story is in Batman/Superman and I wonder how Joshua Williamson will do there. Hope you enjoy this one, sir. Do let me know when you get around to checking this out. And The Boys! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  • Huh, I wasn’t overly enamored by Metal, but I like your allusions to the personal element of this story – I did enjoy Snyder’s take on the Jungian shadow in Batman’s universe, even though the whole Dark Multiverse thingy was too far-fetched for me. And I do enjoy the graphic side of this! Though, to be fair, I still prefer Joker to Batman Who Laughs – I don’t appreciate Snyder’s idea that Batman is the biggest badass of the whole Multiverse, and the only one equal to him can be another Batman..

    Liked by 2 people

    • This was actually supposed to be the one I was going to “highly recommend” to you but after issue 2 of 7, I told myself that it went in some directions that you would have destroyed quickly hahah I thought it was really cool that it brought in that horror genre (he did write some horror stuff in the past after all) to the Batman universe and that he gave his creation (Batman Who Laughs) the chance to express himself.

      I sort of see the dark versions of Batmen he introduced as mirror-versions of each Justice League member but Bruce Wayne as the root of it all. And The Batman Who Laughs as the polar opposite of Batman, sort of like what Joker has always been so far, but more “genetically” accurate. Assuming that the Joker isn’t some relative of Bruce Wayne of course hahah

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, I know what you mean. There was always Batman at the center of Snyder’s Dark Multiverse, with different flavors, granted, but with underlying story and character of Bruce Wayne. When I first read Metal I thought it neat that these different Batmen represent different aspects of Wayne’s personality and how they dominated his alternate versions due to various quirks of his history. A bit of pop-psychology, so to speak 😉 Right now, with these characters given full agency, I’m no longer so taken with the idea 😉 But I can see why you enjoy it, and I’d probably enjoy it too!

        Liked by 1 person

  • This seems like a real treat. The existential add-ons must have added a great chunk to the story. Hearing about the red letters with a bit of white just goes to show the level of detail with which this was planned. Commendations.

    Liked by 1 person

  • I’d read some articles about the Batman who Laughs not too long ago and I was amazed by how brutal the concept seemed to be. I love the idea behind the Batman Who Laughs, and I especially like how it sets him up as one of Batman’s most formidable foes. The attention to detail, especially in relation to the lettering and visual style.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep. It’s definitely one of the darkest creations so far in Batman’s lore. Even his character design is unique but so, so fascinating! And yes, I love how much thought went into the visuals and lettering. It really made the whole volume feel like a whole with an intention around the whole story. Thanks for reading, Lois! 😀

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  • I’ve heard very good things about this mini series, not to mention Scott Snider and Batman is usually a fantastic combination. Might have to check it out sometime.

    Liked by 1 person

  • oooh I didn’t see a pic with the red lettering?! Anyway Batman fighting Batman versions of himself is such an epic idea (of course)! He has beaten all the villains in Gotham so who else is there to battle?! But it sounds like you really enjoyed them facing off. I admit that if I don’t like the art I can’t keep reading. I have to see something stellar in it. I understand from my writing partner that there are many who didn’t like this! I wonder why?!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t share them because they’re quite spoilerific so I try and share random parts to give you guys an idea of the kind of artwork to expect! 😁 Well, technically, he does beat them all at some point but they all different plans throughout their legacy. 😉 This one just offers a super dark confrontation compared to any other story. 😂 As for why there are some readers who aren’t as enthusiastic as me, the answer is in the flaws I’ve skimmed over in my review. Snyder can sometimes overwrite some parts and kill the flow, making the overall result unstable but if you like his ideas and like what he’s trying to do, you’ll enjoy it as much as I did! 😁

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  • Amazing review Lashaan ! 😍 The themes covered in this books are really interesting! I just learnt that there are different Batmen is different multiverses ? 😱 I’m learning something new everyday haha

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Caroline! Oh yes, there’s over 50 different universes, and that’s what they call the “multiverse”. On each Earth (Earth 1, Earth 2, Earth 3, blablabla), there’s an “alternate” version of everyone. And some superheroes have the power to go from one universe to the other. So Bruce Wayne (from Earth-0), the one we all know, isn’t the same Bruce Wayne as on all other Earths. He might not even be Batman on some other earths, he might even be dead on some. 😉 And then, after the story in Dark Nights: Metal, Batman opened up a whole other universe called the “Dark Multiverse” which you could sort of see like the “Upside Down” from Stranger Things. And that’s where this Batman Who Laughs is from. 😮 😮

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