"The Batman Who Laughs #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by DC Comics
Written by Scott Snyder
Illustrated by Jock
Colored by David Baron
Lettered by Sal Cipriano
2018, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on December 12th, 2018
You can't introduce an awesome character like The Batman Who Laughs and not bring him back. Previously thought killed in the events of Dark Nights: Metal, the maniacal Batman from the Dark Multiverse has returned. The Caped Crusader already has a lot on his plate and now he's got to deal with a horrifying version of himself from an alternate dimension. Wasn't it easier when he was just fighting fat guys with novelty umbrellas?
The Batman Who Laughs should be a no-brainer based on the creative team alone. Writer Scott Snyder and artist Jock make up a powerhouse duo. We saw their work most recently in the Wytches Bad Egg Special, but this goes back to an earlier run on Batman with Black Mirror. They have not missed a beat, jumping right into the action from page one with an elaborate chase scene across Gotham streets.
You're pulled in with this crazy scene as Batman chases a group of criminals who are trying to smuggle dead bodies out of the city in trailer homes, which is just as insane as it sounds. Jock chooses some incredible shots, pulling back to show the true scope of this chase and those put in danger by it, then coming in close as Batman steps on some idiot's neck. It's just as cool as it sounds.
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When the hook comes in, it's a whopper. The world's greatest detective goes to work on one helluva mystery as The Batman Who Laughs makes his presence known. These are some tense and frightening scenes, although the connections seem like a bit of a leap, even for someone like Batman. They're definitely informed by some other comics, primarily Batman: White Knight, but that's from an alternate dimension and our Bruce Wayne wouldn't know anything about it.
This feels like a stretch in order to get to the point at the end of the issue. The cliffhanger is admittedly awesome, but it takes a pretty complicated and circuitous route to get there. You just have to go with it because that's what comics can be sometimes, however it doesn't make it any less confusing, especially to a new reader that's jumping into this book.
While The Batman Who Laughs is terrifying based on his origin (a version of Batman who's infected with the Joker toxin), his appearance and speech is what puts him over the edge. Colorist David Baron plays up the sickly pale quality of his skin. Eerie bright red lips outline yellowed teeth spread in an unsettling grin. Blood stains his face in a way that implies it never washes off.
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When this man speaks, it comes out in a lilting, dark tone. Letterer Sal Cipriano uses a jagged red font in black word balloons that really hammers home the idea that this is Batman by way of the Joker. It's the final touch that makes this character so very creepy.
The Batman Who Laughs shakes the Dark Knight to his core in a way that only Scott Snyder can. Yes, the path through this story is a little convoluted, but there's more than enough to capture your attention. Now that we got to this point, I expect smooth sailings since we're getting into the meat of the story. I love how Batman has been dealing with some solid horror elements in recent years and this comic is right in that wheelhouse.