Writer: Scott Snyder
Batman Always Wins. That was the driving force of this story… Or any Snyder story with Batman in it, for that matter. The only way Batman could lose is if he went against another Batman. And even then, a Batman would still win. Snyder, you sneaky son of a gun!
While Batman and Alfred are facing the Batman Who Laughs, the two Gordons are fighting the Grim Knight. Well, it’s actually one Gordon because the other Gordon has apparently joined the Grim Knight. Or has he?
Anyway, in typical Snyder fashion, the last issue left out heroes in a dire situation, with all hope seemingly lost, and the biggest threat to the DC universe since last month. But, what our evil Knights didn’t count on is our Batman’s biggest superpower – prep time! It’s a battle of wits (and prep) until the very end.
While there certainly is an overabundance of Batman and Joker in the popular media, and a lot of people (including me) are feeling a bit fatigued, I can’t say I didn’t enjoy The Batman Who Laughs when he popped up in Metal. The announcement of a mini-series didn’t actually get the core fanbase excited though, mostly because of the fatigue I mentioned above. But this is Snyder we’re talking about, and if there’s anything he can do, it is write a damn-good action-packed Batman story. Throw in a horror twist and baby, you’ve got an awesome book going on!
There is an argument to be made about Snyder’s story following a certain formula. A threat emerges, and our heroes confront it. The threat is the biggest thus far, and the heroes are slowly losing ground. After a while, they finally get an upper hand, a means to actually win. But, as the penultimate issue is about to close and our heroes are about to throw the fatal blow, it is revealed that this was the villain’s plan all along. All hope is lost… until they manage to find another way in the last minute and win. This has been a staple of Snyder’s stories for a while now, the earliest example I can remember being Zero Year.
So yeah, his stories can get really predictable because of this structure. But, it’s the stuff that is in between these beats that capture your attention and draws you to his books month after month. Maybe you just wanna see Alfred being a total badass, or you’re here for the different versions of Batmen from different (dark) universes. Or maybe you wanna see a good jokerized Batman fighting a bad jokerized Batman, with a little help from Joker himself. Or, like me, you’re here to see our heroes drop an occasional F-bomb. There’s a little something for everyone.
Now, all of this is good on its own, but Jock’s awesome artwork makes it even better. The confrontation between the two Batmen looks fantastic, with the horror-flair – at which Jock excels – giving it that extra kick. David Baron’s colouring truly brings the hellish setting to life, further enforcing the idea that the Batman Who Laughs is a demon. Unfortunately, the clash of Gordons and the Grim Knight isn’t as striking.
And I’ve got to throw in some praise for the letterer of the series, Sal Cipriano. The lettering isn’t something I usually give much thought, but the way it’s utilised here is so, so good. From the start of the mini, Bruce’s narration boxes have been slowly changing font and colour from his standard, white comic sans-like letters, to a more crooked one, with more and more letters turning red. This not only looks cool, but it helps signal just how far into his transformation Bruce actually is. This issue had only a single white letter every two or three boxes, which implied two things – Bruce is almost gone… but he isn’t giving up just yet. It’s a strong graphic and narrative tool, a great blend of form AND function.
So there you have it folks, the end of The Batman Who Laughs. But the story is far from done, with a surprising cliffhanger thrown at the end. Despite the story following Snyder’s standard formula, it’s tough to criticise the series. It’s just a helluva good time. And yeah, it does give in to some of the… meme-d aspects of the recent Batman characterisations, but who cares? At the end of the day, we all want to see how – with enough prep time – Batman always wins.
The Batman Who Laughs
Batman. Always. Wins... with enough prep time, obviously. Buy this book.