Review: The Batman Who Laughs: The Grim Knight #1

by Carl Bryan
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[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]

Writer: Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV

Artist: Eduardo Risso

Colors: Dave Stewart

Letters: Sal Cipriano  



“This isn’t about revenge, Jim.  He’s showing you mercy!  Because what I have in store for you is far worse than death! – The Batman Who Laughs

 Snyder and Tynion take us on a different route as they transport us to a Crime Alley in a different universe.  The one where Bruce Wayne’s parents are killed.  But instead of a young boy being consoled and subsequently finding his purpose through more positive influences in his life, this version of Bruce Wayne immediately takes ” an eye for an eye” and kills his parents’ murderer.  This is the beginning of the Grim Knight and he has gone rogue a bit from the Batman Who Laughs (TBWL) original plans.   In TBWL #3, we see how the Grim Knight absconded away James Gordon and provided a bit of a twist in what Batman originally thought would happen.   Gordon, in his weakened and bound state, is trying to find out what makes the Grim Knight tick and in a series of flashbacks akin to scenes all Batman readers have witnessed before, we get the insight that this Bruce Wayne is far from the Bruce we know.  From picking up a gun on that fateful night at a window and killing a bat, to the mass murdering of crime lords to Gotham’s corrupt police force both allowing this Grim Knights ways to become the norm.  Automated killing of criminals….Judge jury, and executioner and the Grim Knight spends his time and Wayne Enterprise money to get the best weapons and best technology to rid his Gotham of every element of criminal activity no matter the cost to his soul or those around him.  This is the story of the Grim Knight!


Snyder and Tynion are giving us the back story of The Batman Who Laughs’ biggest recruit in his ultimate plan for Batman.  The Multiverse is fraught with many versions of the heroes and villains we have all become accustomed to.  But a Batman armed with a gun arsenal breaks the long lasting code that our Caped Crusader won’t kill and especially not kill using a gun.  However, this is the Grim Knight, and the gloves are off.  This origin story comes at a perfect time in the rhythm of TBWL’s storyline as we need to see why the Grim Knight is specifically fascinated with Jim Gordon.  Perhaps Jim’s nobility in the face of everything bad that is the Grim Knights Gotham.  Perhaps it is the fact that his timeline’s Gordon was actually able to take Bruce down by the book and this is the Grim Knight’s second chance to make things right in his mind.  And then there is that cliff hanger from the TBML who indicates that the Grim Knight is actually showing Gordon mercy and that his plans are much more devious.  We are left with more questions than answers, but we midway through the story line, so Snyder and Tynion are giving us the ride we so richly deserve at this point. The flashback scene art is perfect as it separates the storyline correctly.  We know what timeline we are in visually as well as in the words of the story.  And the cover art……There is one cover that I am especially taken with in that it is an homage to Todd McFarlane’s time with Batman.  That art paired with the backstory of the Grim Knight makes me crave an exclusive Grim Knight penciled by McFarlane.  It’s the Multiverse so we can dream can’t we?


If the TBWL has two rabid Robins and is as bad as we anticipate, then what type of Robin serves under the Grim Knight.  There is absolutely no light in this Knight’s life… for watching a monitor where his weapon systems kill criminals.  And to place an explosive in Alfred’s neck to impose complete devotion.  This Grim Knight has robbed every bit of sunshine and dignity that was associated with Bruce Wayne.  That’s tough to swallow, but it is Snyder and Tynion’s way of “getting all the blood out of the onion” so we get a Grim Knight that is a soldier against crime, but one that has no soul.  


I loved the diversion from the main story and it was definitely needed.  We needed to know what the back story was for the Grim Knight.  We are left with more questions in what the ultimate plan is for TBWL and how the Grim Knight fits into it as I cannot imagine a world where both of these creatures co-exist.  The egos are too big.  Jim Gordon turns out to be the real hero in this as his police training and interrogation skills keep peeling back layer after layer in the Grim Knight.  This Grim Knight wants to get a second chance at Gordon.  A Gordon that Jim doesn’t know, but the goodness that is Jim Gordon appears to permeate through all time lines.  Hooray for Jim and Hooray for us….this is the best story line for Batman since Bane broke his back!  


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