The Batman Who Laughs #2 – Scott Snyder, Writer; Jock, Artist; David Baron, Colorist
Ray – 9.5/10
Corrina: A Spiritual Sequel to “Black Mirror”
Ray: Scott Snyder has been going big in his comics recently, from the dimension-hopping Dark Nights: Metal to steering the ship on the largest-scale Justice League run since Geoff Johns. But many people, myself included, think his writing has never been quite as good as when he goes small – telling intimate, character-driven mysteries that plumb its lead characters’ deepest fears. That’s how his Batman run began with “Black Mirror”, and he comes back to those roots in The Batman Who Laughs #2. Picking up on the big bad from Metal, this story feels in many ways like Snyder’s take on The Silence of the Lambs – a story where the hero is forced to team up with one of their deadliest enemies to face something even worse. When the issue kicks off, Joker is on the operating table as Alfred tries to save his life – while Batman desperately injects himself with every Joker serum antidote he has in order to keep the tentative grip he has on sanity after being infected with the poison that transformed the Batman who Laughs. That sets the stakes nice and high for this issue, with Batman facing the loss of his sanity.
This is Batman at his weakest, with the villains at their strongest. As Batman starts to slowly unravel – seen in a great segment with Jim Gordon and Batman (undercover as Harvey Bullock) talking the invasion of their city only to be interrupted by a rude young officer – the Batman Who Laughs makes his move. The Grim Knight, just teased the last issue, enters the fray in a big way and seems to be the version of Batman who became obsessed not with justice but with firepower, weaponizing Wayne Enterprises. Batman as a Punisher-esque gun nut? A compelling and timely villain, and one that may horrify Bruce even more than his Jokerized counterpart. Snyder’s always done a lot of work with the mythology of Gotham, and his reveal of the history of Bruce’s final fail-safe reminds me a lot of the reveals he did with the Court of Owls. The action is tense and gripping throughout, and even stronger because of the gritty realism of Jock’s art. He was Snyder’s first Batman artist, and it makes sense he’s here for this closing chapter. Things truly come full-circle with the final reveal, and two issues in this is one of my favorite works of Scott Snyder’s in years.
Corrina: I’ve been vocal that I have no interest in the title character of this series, nor, really, in any Joker story.
And, yet, I’m getting pulled in! ::shakes fist:: ::darn you Snyder & Jock!::
Why am I interested, especially since this story uses elements of the Batman mythos I hate? Because it’s telling a story about the different sides of Batman, especially the choices that have made our Batman what he is, and how other choices might have led him down the path to something entirely different. There’s the Batman Who Laughs, of course, who represents Batman becoming his enemy, and the Grim Knight, who represents a Batman without compassion. Our Batman cares about saving lives more than vengeance, so he’s trying to save the Joker in order to save innocents.
And to continue that theme, we have Jim Gordon, forever Gotham’s conscience, noticing Batman’s struggle to stay sane. Even more, we have the re-appearance of JIm Gordon Jr., a son who’s been corrupted, either by Gotham or by his own internal psychopathy. “Black Mirror” played with these themes of self for Gordon and Babs and even Dick Grayson. Now it’s reflecting the same dark mirror at Batman.
The art is a perfect compliment, from the image of Batman being a pincushion, to the art design of the Grim Night.
So, yes, I’m interested.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.