Writer: Scott Snyder / Artist: Jock / DC Comics
The final issue before the end of The Batman Who Laughs was packed with tension, fear, and a little bit of hope.
The odds tipped in favor of our Batman for once, or so it seems. This is his last-ditch effort to beat Laughs at his own game before Bruce becomes him for good.
Batman has been on this descent into darkness for most of the series. His transformation slowly transpiring in front of our eyes in grotesque fashion. But this issue ramps up everything as Alfred is constantly in his ear about just how close he is to changing irreversibly. As a reader, I appreciated this for a couple of different reasons. For one, having a recurring tool to remind the audience just how close Bruce is from the deep end really helps ramp up the tension in an issue that has to set up the implications of the finale. But I enjoyed how Snyder crafted that tool and used it in a way that felt personal for Batman. It could have easily been a gadget monitoring Bruce’s heart rate, or an internal monologue detailing how close he is to his transformation. But no, it was Alfred, the one positive constant in his life, doing everything he can to save his surrogate son from effectively dying. It makes those instances so much more impactful when they pop up within the story.
This issue also cemented the Batman Who Laughs motivations and the point he’s trying to prove. And it’s actually pretty simple, if not extremely petty. This whole series, Laughs has been plucking alternate Bruce’s from all over the multiverse and dropping their dead bodies all over our Batman’s Gotham for him to discover. Now, we know why: He simply wants to show our Batman that all these other versions of him are happier than he is and will ever be. And that because of this, he’s the worst Batman. The worst version of himself. It’s so petty, and I love it. The Batman Who Laughs is doing the most just to show Bruce that he sucks. But it is an interesting thing to look at, because it’s something that can either be Bruce’s last straw, or something that motivates him to overcome this nightmare version of himself. All of that is yet to be determined, but I can’t wait to see how it plays out.
While providing a lot of payoffs and answers, this issue also gave us some of the best art of the series. Jock is putting some incredible work on display as Batman and Laughs face off in a battle with huge implications. There’s a panel with shades of that iconic Dark Knight Rises shot with the lightning that is jaw-dropping, to say the least. And as Batman inches closer and closer toward becoming The Batman Who Laughs, The Batman Who Laughs seems to be devolving into something more sinister and deranged than he already is, and that is reflected in his design as well.
The Batman Who Laughs #6 throws everything at the kitchen sink as it evens the playing field and answers a lot of questions except the big ones. It prepares us for a finale that promises to challenge what we think is going to happen.
9.5 Truly Happy Bruce Waynes out of 10
Reading The Batman Who Laughs? Find BNP’s other reviews here.