The Batman Who Laughs #1
Written by: James Tynion IV
Art by: Riley Rossmo
Colors by: Ivan Plascenia
Letters by: Tom Napolitano
Cover by: Jason Fabok and Brad Anderson
Published by: DC Comics
A review by Stacy Dooks
This is the one I’ve been dreading.
I’ve previously reviewed a number of the Dark Nights one-shots chronicling the origins of the various Evil Batmen who’ve become the focal point of DC’s METAL crossover, but of them all The Batman Who Laughs #1 is the one I’ve been very, very leery of. I mean, look at the guy. He’s a mixture of the worst aspects of Clive Barker’s Pinhead from Hellraiser mixed with a liberal dose of Judge Death from the pages of 2000 AD. And it’s clear virtually from his introduction that he’s the right-hand Bat of Barbatos, the dark god that’s currently attacking the DC Multiverse with his league of Evil Batmen from the Dark Multiverse. Of all the Batmen to come out of those worlds that never should have been, his is the story I knew was going to get under my skin. And boy howdy, did it get under my skin.
On Earth -22 of the Dark Multiverse, the Joker commits an act of terror on the populace of Gotham so evil it compels Batman to employ lethal force to take him down. The GCPD is decimated, Commissioner Gordon is dead, and a number of Gotham youth have been exposed to a concentrated dose of the same chemicals that made the Joker into the maniac he was and have been driven irrevocably mad. Joker’s death was carefully planned however, as Batman soon discovers he’s been infected with a potent neural toxin that is slowly driving him insane. In another universe, there might be a chance the Dark Knight could discover a cure and save himself. But this isn’t a universe of happy endings, and we know only too well that for this Batman the cards are already stacked against him with a deck full of Jokers.
The Batman Who Laughs #1 is easily the creepiest out of the Dark Knights Metal tie-ins featuring the Dark Multiverse Batmen, and that is saying something. Tynion’s writing makes this Batman’s tale eerily familiar and completely alien at the same time, and Rossmo’s art lends itself nicely to the horror feel permeating the book. There’s definitely some disturbing imagery in the book to be sure (the sequence on the Justice League satellite is easily the worst) but the overall feel of the book is designed to take you well out of your comfort zone and for this reviewer it succeeded with aplomb. If there’s one Dark Nights tie-in I’d recommend as essential, this is it. THE BATMAN WHO LAUGHS #1 is an eerie tale that allows the reader to gain some understanding of Barbatos’ chief lieutenant in his invasion of the DC Multiverse.
Buy It! Not only is it a creepy done in one Elseworlds-style tale, it’s a key component to understanding one of Metal’s primary antagonists and getting a hint of just how bad things could really get for our heroes if they don’t save the day. Recommended.