Review: The Batman Who Laughs #3

“The Laughing House” – Part Three
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Jock
Color Artist: David Baron
Letterer: Sal Cipriano
Review by Steve J. Ray

If it takes a thief to catch a thief, what does it take to catch a remorseless mass murderer? With Joker out of action Batman and Jim Gordon decide to recruit James Gordon Jr. Gotham City’s most infamous psychopath. Can this former serial killer be the one to help our heroes put an end to the threat of the Batman Who Laughs?
Scott Snyder is writing a real thriller, disguised as a comic-book. I love crime fiction, and this tale ranks as one of the finest examples of the genre I’ve ever read. The Batman Who Laughs is as twisted and malevolent as any Hannibal Lecter, and The Grim Knight makes Frank Castle look like Frank N. Furter.
It’s fantastic seeing James Gordon Jr. again, even though the character scares the living bejeezus out of me. Scott Snyder’s Batman: The Black Mirror made him one of the best bat-villains of the modern era. Turning to him as a means of stopping the invaders from the dark multiverse, could be the one of the most disturbing ideas that Batman’s ever had.

Psychos ‘R’ Us

I love the themes in this series. Batman has always been the planner, the thinker. He’s always been the character who won’t get into any situation that he hasn’t already planned a dozen ways out of. Bat-fans have always maintained that this character can formulate a strategy to take down any enemy. The question Scott Snyder is asking though, is what if that enemy is Batman himself? A darker, twisted and more ruthless version, allied with another equally as vile. Can Batman defeat one evil version of himself, let alone two at a time?
The clever parts of this series though, are the instances where Snyder cleverly scatters slices of humor, and allows small shafts of sunlight through the dark and twisted corridors of his mind. There’s a scene between Batman and The Grim Knight which shows us both sides of this truly legendary character. Without moments like these, this comic could easily become morbid and depressing. Scott Snyder is cleverer than that, and with this action scene adding adrenaline and laughs, the whole feel of the book is elevated. A brief light that’s quickly taken away, makes the dark deliciously darker.
The art provided by Jock and David Baron is as though provoking and visceral as the writing. The cold, dulled hues and blood reds of Baron’s color pallet enhance and infuse Jock’s minimalist, almost tribal line work, with atmosphere that screams of malicious intent. I love it.
Prince Of Paragraphs, Sal Cipriano, polishes the issue with his cold and calculated calligraphy. Look at this guy’s output to see just what it is a pro letterer can provide. This isn’t an easy job, even though talents like Sal might make it seem that way. His change of styles mid conversation in the last couple of pages is chilling.

Conclusion

This story is twisting my guts and stealing my breath. I know that this is a comic, but I haven’t felt as fearful for Batman’s life since the heady days of Knightfall. I haven’t felt Batman slipping so far from his code or his morality since the death of Jason Todd. Let me state right now, what Bruce decides to build in the Batcave workshop at the end of the issue leaves readers with a cliffhanger par-excellence. I cannot unsee what I have seen. My eyes, MY EEEYYYEEES!
More, please.
Images Courtesy Of DC Entertainment
(This review was originally published on the Dark Knight News website on February 13th 2019)

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