Review – The Batman Who Laughs #6: Slipping Away

The Batman Who Laughs #6 variant cover, via DC Comics.

The Batman Who Laughs #6 – Scott Snyder, Writer; Jock, Artist; David Baron, Colorist

Ratings:

Ray – 9.5/10

Corrina: Mirror/Mirror, Which Dark/Light Pairing Is More Interesting?

Ray: The penultimate issue of Scott Snyder’s horror masterpiece is part one of his two-part farewell to the Bat-verse (the other half being his Black Label series Batman: Last Knight on Earth), and it has not disappointed yet. Batman’s mind is slowly slipping away from him, as the Joker toxin burns away everything he is and replaces them with the Joker’s madness. Snyder’s narration segments are brilliant, showing Batman’s mind as the moments of lucidity get fewer and far between. He’s taken Gordon and Gordon Jr. captive until he puts his plan to lock down Gotham to prevent the Batman Who Laughs’ plan from taking effect, and waits to release them until he’s gotten the head start he needs – to go after his evil doppelganger. The Batman Who Laughs continues his twisted game of hunting down alternate, happier Bruce Waynes, and this look at the possible futures of Batman are all fascinating. This issue’s wheelchair-using Bruce who has privatized most of Gotham is another intriguing permutation.

There’s no question that this is the scariest superhero comic Snyder has written since the days of the Court of Owls, and the Batman Who Laughs is incredibly haunting once he’s unleashed from the confines of an event comic. His taunts are the kind that stick with both the characters and the reader. I wasn’t quite as sold on the Gordon segments as I normally am, as it seems like there’s a lot of developments that happen quickly and reverse themselves within twenty-five pages. And seeing the two of them jump into a different sort of Bat-suit was amusing, but felt sort of out of step with the tone of the rest of the issue. This series was expanded from six issues to seven (eight if you count the Grim Knight special) and it’s not hard to see why. There’s no shortage of plot in this series, and by the end it seems like we’re headed for a final, one-on-one battle between the two Batmen – but is there any difference between them anymore? It’s yet another brilliant Batman story by Snyder and Jock.

Gotham on the brink. Via DC Comics.

Corrina: I’m not sure which is the most fascinating pair: Batman and his Jokerized doppleganger or the Gordons, father and son.

Alternate/past/future selves seem to be a go-to for Batman lately but Snyder’s writing digs down deep to show why they’re so fascinating: if we’re the sum of all our choices, what happens to us when a difficult choice goes in the wrong direction? (Too often, alternative selves are used as cautionary tales but, truly, they’re only a too-close-to-home horrific version of a choice made under duress.)

This story makes that clear with the choice Batman has to make to hit his switch, and the choice that Gordon Jr. must make about which way to turn. It’s true, the Gordon storyline is undercut a little bit by Jim’s weirdly mulish insistence that Jim Jr. shouldn’t stay on the medicine, But I’ll see how that plays out.

Some collaborations are more than the sum of their parts and I’ve always preferred the Snyder/Jock pairing over Snyder/Capullo simply the writing and art seem in 100 percent perfect synergy. How many times have we seen two men struggling over a gun? And yet Jock makes the Gordons struggle over that gun so much more.

Ray keeps calling this horror. But it’s not about the gore (of which there is little) or about the scare. It’s about how we deal with our worst selves.

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

Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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