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.
Release Date: September 3rd 2019.
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.
My Overall Rating: ★★★★☆.
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.
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.
Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!