Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Scott Snyder
Colourist: David Baron
Letters: Sal Cipriano
Release Date: 16th January 2019
First of all, how very dare you Mr Snyder? How dare you drop such a huge bomb on me and then make me wait an entire month before I get to see what happens next? You’re bloody evil is what you are! As evil as the Joker, more twisted than the Batman Who Laughs himself, as maniacal as… well… other DC villains.
Issue two of the Batman Who Laughs keeps the ball rolling in this much anticipated return of Batman’s dark reflection from the Dark Multiverse. Now infected with the very same toxin that his new enemy was exposed too, it has become a race against time as Bats tries to figure out just how to stop, well, himself. Pumped to the gills with every known anti-Joker Toxin he can find, he has managed to buy himself about a week until he finally turns into the very beast he’s fighting. But how can he even begin to outthink his own brain? And not just his own brain but one unchained from the morality and connections that hold Bruce back from the edge?
The answer is seemingly impossible to find as the perfect coupling of Snyder’s words and the manic scratches of Jock’s artwork create a classic Batman detective tale. Just like in Black Mirror this story serves as a way of casting a reflection onto just who Batman is and what he’s capable of. And while we already saw the brief glimpse in Metal now we’re seeing it in a Batman-centric story it’s every bit as unsettling as it is engrossing.
Gotham is beautifully macabre in Jock’s hands. An artist who mixes the grounded, realistic depiction with the intense blackness of shadows and redness of blood, he paints the path into this dark tale so perfectly I honestly can’t imagine anyone else at the helm.
The story itself though, that’s where the real damage has been done to my psyche. Starring off with the a reminder of just how capable Bruce is of this level of darkness. Seeing the Batman Who Laughs let loose this issue serves as a stark reminder of how tightly wound he is. Joker Toxin or not this is a man almost sociopathically devoted to his cause and all it takes is a little nudge to see our hero turn into arguably the greatest villain in the DC universe. In fact, I’m quickly coming to the conclusion he’s the perfect adversary to Batman.
We’ve seen a similar idea in the past with Owlman from the Crime Syndicate, but this is him multiplied a thousand-fold with absolutely no sanity at all. The character of the Grim Knight also shows how thin that knife edge is, and as we find out in this issue, all it took was for Joe Chill to drop his gun and a young Bruce to pick it up for his entire future to change in a deadly direction.
It’s also Batman himself we’re seeing falling down the rabbit hole of insanity. In a number of scenes we see how Bruce is barely holding on to the faintest sliver of who he is, not only from his choice of dialogue but in the way Jock portrays his eyes, sometimes merely symbolically red and others with varying shades of crimson showing the madness slowly taking over.
Trust me when I say that in teaming up again, Jock and Scott have crafted a Batman tale every bit as amazing as Black Mirror. But the most gut-wrenchingly, fist pumping in the air, ‘you sneaky bastard Snyder’ moment of this issue for me? That bloody ending! The moment where we see just how far the Dark Knight and his allies will have to fall in order to stop his dark reflections from tearing Gotham apart. Issue three can’t come soon enough.
The writer of this piece was: Indiana “Indy” Marlow
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