Review – The Batman Who Laughs #5: The Darkest Gotham

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The Batman who Laughs #5 variant cover, via DC Comics.

The Batman Who Laughs #5 – Scott Snyder, Writer; Jock, Artist; David Baron, Colorist


Ray – 10/10

Corrina: Horror Takes Over

Ray: What was teased as a simple follow-up miniseries to the popular Dark Knights: Metal villain has turned into something else entirely – an epic Gotham-set mini-event that ties together plots from the entirety of Scott Snyder’s extensive Batman run. With Batman’s sanity slipping more and more as the Joker toxin seeps into his veins, The Batman Who Laughs #5 opens with him desperately trying to escape from the guards who believe he’s the titular villain. Batman’s frenzied panic and his willingness to go to dark, dirty measures are something we rarely see from him, but it’s the other lead who’s in far darker places. Still a captive of the Grim Knight, Jim Gordon is tormented with twisted alternate Jokerized versions of his son – but it’s the real James Gordon Jr. who comes to his rescue. Jim Jr’s possible redemption arc has been one of the most compelling parts of this story, but if this is Snyder’s final act in Gotham for now, I’m dubious that he’ll make it out of this story alive.

However, where this issue really goes from good to fantastic is in the Batman Who Laughs’ segment. Snyder has had three iconic creations from the opposite ends of his run – Jim Gordon Jr., The Batman Who Laughs – and the Court of Owls. I freely admit I did a little fanboy glee dance when I realized exactly where the BWL was going, and while Jock’s version of the Court isn’t quite as sweeping as Capullo’s, it’s no less haunting. Watching the coldly logical court face off against the unpredictably sadistic BWL is one of the best scenes of the series and it delivers one darkly comic and disturbing twist after another. As the Batman who Laughs puts his final plan to twist Gotham in his image into effect and Batman’s sanity slips away from him, it’s easy to see why Snyder and Jock decided to add another issue to this series. It hasn’t missed a beat since it started and every issue delivers more tension and thrills than the last.

Batman Who Laughs #5
The token to Gotham. Via DC Comics.

Corrina: I predict the last panel of The Batman Who Laughs #5 will be one of the most talked about Batman panel in years, as Bruce is literally reduced to tears, caught between hope and hopelessness, and sanity and insanity.

I’m fairly sure the issue is brilliant. Jock does an amazing job with the sequences in the sewers and, for the first time, the Robins seem menacing, as Jim sees his son reflected in them. The confrontation with the Court of Owls is sharply drawn and, weirdly, full of dark humor. (But appropriate dark humor.)

Except, for all its brilliance, it’s not for me.

I’ve said before all this started that if I had to pick a concept I would be less likely to enjoy in Batman, it would be a Batman-like version of the Joker, complete with yet another evil version of Batman, and Batman himself taking Joker serum. Despite all that, the metaphysical commentary on the character was interesting and the involvement of the Gordons carried me along . But this issue takes a downturn into pure horror and I can’t follow it there. For all that it’s brilliant, I just do not and will never understand this obsession with the Joker and Batman on the verge of insanity.

Batman is that guardian who protects others from the emotional fallout of what he had to endure. And that makes helps him, gives him strength. That’s my Batman.

The horror Batman who can’t bear his burdens because he has no wins? That’s not a Batman story for me.

To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.

Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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