[*Mild Spoilers Ahead!]
Batman is in pursuit of a criminal ring that is smuggling bodies out of Gotham on flatbeds under uprooted row houses. After getting through the armed smugglers, he gets a look at one of the bodies they’ve stolen. It’s Bruce Wayne. Meanwhile, at Arkham Asylum, Batman begins gunning down guards and prisoners. He finds the Joker, and the Batman Who Laughs puts his scythe the Clown Prince’s head.
As expected, The Batman Who Laughs #1 is a very bleak comic bringing one of DC’s most depraved new characters back into the orbit of the Dark Knight. It was foreshadowed somewhat in recent issues of Justice League, where the Batman Who Laughs was seeming to negotiate a release from the Legion of Doom and Lex Luthor.
The Batman Who Laughs’ first play here is brutal and bloody. The Batman he unleashes on Arkham, called “The Grim Knight” is another frightening reflection of the Bruce Wayne we know. The Batman Who Laughs taunts and elaborate clues for our Batman make for a truly alien departure from our own Caped Crusader.
The Joker’s part in all of this is strange yet intriguing. He has a plan all his own, but it’s not one that our Batman wants.
Jock’s artwork is a grimly perfect medium through which the story can manifest. Heavy shadowing and a focus on silhouettes over close detail leave the comic feeling unnervingly withdrawn from the reader in many ways. Whenever the details do reveal themselves, they are all the more disturbing. David Baron’s colors are brilliantly atmospheric, adding to the purely dark tone of the comic.
The Batman Who Laughs #1 strikes out with a vicious first installment. It shows numerous dark reflections of Batman intended to haunt the Caped Crusader we know, and we are left wondering if the Batman has what it takes to stop this bastardized hybrid of himself and the Joker. It’s a damn good read with beautiful artwork, and it’s easily worth a recommendation. Check it out.
The Batman Who Laughs #1 comes to us from writer Scott Snyder, artist and cover artist Jock, color artist David Baron, letterer Sal Cipriano, and variant cover artist Greg Capullo with FCO Plascencia.