Review: Batman Who Laughs #4

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

Writer: Scott Snyder

Artist: Jock

Colors: David Baron

Letters: Sal Cipriano  


Reviewed by: Carl Bryan




“Whenever I have a BAD NIGHT….whenever I doubt myself or my mission as Baman (like now..HEH.)…I try to see things through my children’s eyes” – Batman

Where to begin…..In an effort to “see what he sees” Batman allows the Joker Toxin to take over his body and he fashions a visor akin to that of The Batman Who Laughs (TBWL).  Alfred, in a protective role, rips the visor from Bruce in an effort to make sure he doesn’t lose Bruce.  In a knock down, drag out fight, Alfred more than holds his own, however, words hurt.  And in a moment of lucidness, Bruce and Alfred embrace and Bruce admits that Alfred was his ultimate moral compass and teacher.  But Bruce is bent on seeing Gotham as TBWL sees Gothan, so visor is on.  Unfortunately, TBWL is always ahead and for a moment, we think he can see through Bruce’s visor.  However, he and The Grim Knight are interrogating/torturing Jim Gordon who is strapped to a chair.  Meanwhile as Bruce patrols the city with his newly fashioned visor, the younger Jim Gordon is working the water system and in a subtle way, his conversation with Batman takes a turn to where he admits he knows how Batman sees things and how everything makes sense (in one’s own view of the world) (Possible Turn of Events Spoiler!).  The younger Gordon affirms to Batman that he is going to win, but asks if he has a fail safe in case things go bad.  The unfortunate fail safe is in the form of the Joker who confronts Batman in one of the water reservoirs.  Batman is given a glimpse of what he thinks the Joker is there to do via his visor, however, he allows the Joker to talk.  The Joker indicates that the back and forth between he and Batman is not about one winning or losing, it is simply about the chase.  This is so engaging to him that he never wants it to end.  Therefore, the Joker and the Batman make a vow that if he turns into a form of the TBWL, then the Joker will kill him.  In a nod to time travel/world travel, Batman goes to Blackgate prison following energy readings in order to find TBWL.  However, he has hit a portal where he is confronted by a Bruce Wayne who runs Blackgate.  Deep beneath Blackgate, it appears The Grim Knight is hungry for the hunt and releases the elder James Gordon, and a brutal hunt follows complete with Rabid Robins attacking James.  Subsequently , TBWL poses as a prison guard who kills the Blackgate Bruce Wayne, and reveals to Batman that he is really his one true child.  And subsequently, we see TBWL as a prison guard giving the order to kill Batman to the other prison guards using a hail of gunfire. And what is that in the younger Jim Gordon’s hand as he is looking in the reservoir?  Hang on….Part Four leaves another Bruce Wayne corpse in the wake of The Batman Who Laughs.


So many to talk about…..First, Alfred and Bruce going fisticuffs and then the most stinging blow is in the form of words from Bruce.  Then a collapse into each other’s arms as a father holds his child.  Snyder has this dynamic down perfect!  As the opening scene has Bruce in a reflective mode about his “children” and we see Dick Grayson in his prime as Robin.  Lots of father themes going on here between Bruce and his Robins, Alfred and Bruce, and the younger and older Jim Gordon.  But the revelation at the end by the TBWL…. you have to see it to believe it. Remember when you saw Bane break Batman’s back or when you see Barbara Gordon open the door and the Joker shoots her.  Yeah…. TBWL without his visor.  That’ll burn into your Batman file for a while! The Grim Knight versus James Gordon.  This guy is on a manhunt of revenge and bringing in Rabid Robins to injure his prey.  This guy is pure evil. Black Metal energy is something to deal with and these portals that pop in these myriad of Bruce Waynes….whew! Who needs Boom Tubes when you have this stuff? But the best positive is this union between Joker and Batman.  The Enemy of my Enemy is my Friend? Scott Snyder has his best writing going on as there are so many layers of the onion, you have to read and reread to drink it all in.  This is a coveted issue.  Jock’s art….this entire series needs to be hung in an art gallery so people can simply walk through and appreciate all that Jock is bringing to the table.  And Frison’s Variant Cover…..speechless!  


The only negative is that this is bringing us closer to the end of this story!  


I cannot say enough about Jock’s artwork bringing Scott Snyder’s work to life.  This is a new injection of life into the myth of Batman.  What a ride!  This issue means there are only two more to go and that is sad!  As a collector or a Batman fan, you have to grab this mini-series.  And from seeing other items in celebration of Batman, TBWL and the Grim Knight have already shown that they are going to be around a while in the Batman realm.  Grab your copy as soon as possible!  


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