Dark Nights: The Batman Who Laughs #1 – James Tynion IV, Writer; Riley Rossmo, Artist; Ivan Plascencia, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Corrina: UGH. I Hate This.
WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS RESIDE IN THESE REVIEWS.
Ray: Since the start of Metal, this has been the issue that DC has been hyping up as the most disturbing part of the entire event. And with James Tynion IV at the writing desk and horror virtuoso Riley Rossmo on art, it’s not a surprise that it delivers on the horror. The issue opens with the Batman Who Laughs addressing the audience, breaking the fourth wall to finally share his origin. And like the rest of the Dark Knights, it begins with loss. The Joker’s final assault on Gotham has killed most of Batman’s civilian allies, including Commissioner Gordon, but it’s the madman’s recreation of the incident that killed the Waynes that finally pushes Bruce too far. In the middle of a burning Gotham, he strangles Joker a little too hard – and Joker dies in a puff of Joker gas from his lungs. What happens next is a slow unraveling of Batman’s mind, as he tries to cope with his actions only to notice that bits and pieces of his nemesis’ mind are slipping into his own. It’s when the meat of the issue begins, when Batman turns on his own allies and becomes the new Joker, that the issue loses a few steps.
Bruce’s ambush of his own allies and kids is so brutal, so sudden that it feels like it needed a bit more time to set up. The only one spared is Damian – if we can count what he does to him as sparing. Then there’s the Justice League, who fall victim to all the traps set up by Batman over years. What Batman does to Superman and his family may be a bit too far even for hardcore horror fans. Tynion and Rossmo do an amazing job of showing us just how monstrous this Batman who Laughs truly is, but I’m not so sure they do as good a job of showing us why. Why didn’t Batman resist at first? He’s the world’s greatest detective – why didn’t he isolate himself at the first sign of symptoms? He’s a terrifying villain and the issue has a fantastic double-page spread where we learn that Batman isn’t the only one with these counterparts in the Dark Multiverse. But not even this issue can touch the brilliant spotlight for the Dawnbreaker.
Corrina: At the panels discussing the DC Dark Nights: Metal event at Boston Comic Con, the DC talent there talked about how this would be a wild, fun event.
This is not wild nor fun.
That was the most nihilistic piece of violence porn from DC Comics that I’ve read in some time. It’s simply one scene after another of Bat-Joker killing people, in the most predictable way possible. Ray found the ambush of the Bat-Family brutal. I could see it coming several pages away. Ditto the rest of this book. Good horror relies on rising tension that scares. This isn’t horror, this is just one violent killing after another. (I would say it’s not even a good Joker story because it’s not the least bit darkly amusing. I would also point out that the Joker infecting a member of the Bat Family to turn him evil was done previous, in the famous Batman Beyond: The Returns of the Joker. But that would be piling on.)
Nevermind, I will pile on. It lacks imagination, it’s derivitive, and it adds no new insight into the characters of either the Batman or the Joker.
This single issue represents everything I hate about Metal.
Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.