Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Scott Snyder
Colourist: David Baron
Letters: Sal Cipriano
Release Date: 13th February 2019
[WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS]
Somehow, I don’t know how, I was able to contain my excitement after the last issue’s bombshell on the very last panel. For those of you not caught up with The Batman Who Laughs, I’ll save you a spoiler at this point by simply shouting angrily at you for not going out and buying every issue as soon as it hit the stands. Seriously, it’s amazing!
From this point on however I’ll assume you’ve read the last issue, joining me in a craning at a page in a comic book in utter delight.
So it seems that there was more to the team of Jock and Scott Snyder reuniting than we all first thought. Because while I’ve praised their work on one of my all time favourite Batman novels, “The Black Mirror”, they’ve only gone and sneaked in the fact that this reunion of the Batman Who Laughs is actually something of sequel to that very title. I say something because of the confusion tied up with what’s still canon after the new 52 wipe (and the even more confusing aftermath of Rebirth), but the two creative jokers have at the very least made the ominously psychopathic James Gordon Jr. a part of canon again.
Blinded from his last run in with another bat, James is now seemingly sane and on a course of medication. Medication which, it seems, is beginning to cure his psychopathic tendencies. But with the Batman Who Laughs stopping and out-thinking Batman at every turn, Commissioner Gordon and Batman need that old genius nutter to think in the way only a truly evil person can.
Jock’s artwork continues to be at it’s nightmarish best (or should that be worst?) here. The jagged edges work in harmony with the dark blacks and scarlet reds to really etch the characters into your mind. Gordon Jr. is exactly the man we saw in Black Mirror, and his innocent veneer is so much more off-putting when you know exactly what he’s capable of, but it’s the eyes that Jock draws which really stick with you as you turn the pages. Well, eye in this case.
Snyder is clearly in his element with this story. A writer who always takes the time to explore his characters in fresh, creative ways, Snyder is at his best when given complete freedom to write his own story, separate from the rest of the DCU (that’s not to say that his runs on those types of stories haven’t been great too). Through his constant monologue we see how Bruce is not only falling helplessly but actually choosing to plummet headfirst even faster because it’s the only outcome he can see working.
Both the Grim Knight and the Batman Who Laughs play out as the fractured reflections of our hero, showing us just how similar – but also polar opposite – they are to our beloved Bat. Seeing how close he was to always becoming them is both fascinating and unnerving at the same time, along with all the other possible Bruce Waynes we keep learning of.
The other main thing this issue did for me is put to bed any claims that the Grim Knight was just a knock-off Punisher. Don’t get me wrong, Frank Castle is definitely a force to be reckoned with, but he’s still human and still something this world could conjure up given the right circumstances. Batman has always been the epitome of human limitation, but imagine that focus and resolve fixated not just on the death of criminals, but of crime itself.
I’m already adding this series to my ‘Best of the Year’ list, and even thought it’s only February any other comics are seriously going to be hard pressed to knock it off that particular perch.
The writer of this piece was: Indiana “Indy” Marlow
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