The Batman Who Laughs: The Grim Knight #1 – Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Writers; Eduardo Riss, Artist; Dave Stewart, Colorist
Ray – 9/10
Corrina: Gordon spotlight
Ray: During the Dark Knights: Metal event, we got a series of one-shots showing us the secret backstory of the evil Batmen from the Dark Multiverse, and the breakout was clearly the Batman-Who-Laughs. But The Batman Who Laughs series has revealed there was one more dark Batman who we never saw until now – the Grim Knight. This ruthless, gun-toting Batman has joined with the Batman-Who-Laughs to declare war on Batman and Gotham City, but we never saw his backstory – until this one-shot guest-illustrated by Eduardo Risso. As the issue opens, the Grim Knight has captured Commissioner Gordon and is taking him to his boss, but Gordon manages to keep him talking. And like all Batmen, his story begins in Crime Alley. The Waynes went down in a hail of gunfire, yes, but this Joe Chill stumbled and dropped his gun – right into the hands of Bruce Wayne, who shot him dead. From there, the feeling of power that gun gave Bruce colored his entire life. He picked it up and never put it back down.
The Grim Knight’s Batman is a disturbing place, overseen by a soldier of vengeance who kills every criminal – convicted or not, violent or not. Corrupt judges get the same treatment as child molesters. A corrupt Mayor Harvey Dent gets his face scarred and becomes a puppet of the Batman. The only person who is willing to resist is Jim Gordon, a flawed but determined cop who saw Batman as the danger he was. Every one of these Dark Batmen had an enemy who pushed them past their limit, and for the Grim Knight that was Gordon. There’s a Twilight Zone quality to his Gotham, and the last germ of humanity we see in him is that he refuses to kill Alfred when the old man leaves him – a decision that spells his downfall. He’s the only one of these Batmen who doesn’t have superpowers or some sort of corruption, and in some ways that makes him the scariest yet. Another great outing for Snyder and Tynion as they add another top-tier villain to the DCU.
Corrina: Stop doing this, creative team! I hate Joker stories. There are two of them in this. I also intensely disliked the origin issue of Batman-Who-Laughs, finding it bleak and predictable.
But I love Jim Gordon stories. ARGH.
In this case, the strength of the writing plus the focus on Gordon was plenty for me to rate this issue highly. There have been so many versions of Batman over the years, many of them evil, but the Grim Knight stands out as having an absolutely clear reason why Bruce turned to guns. That his Gordon became his nemesis makes sense, as Gordon is Batman’s conscience and the Grim Knight doesn’t have one. Or does he? That’s the question asked when the Grim Knight refuses to kill another Gordon.
Things are looking quite bleak for our heroes, overall, but the story itself has flashes of humor and hope. Though I expect things are about to get worse before they get better, for Batman and Gordon.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.