Review: The Batman Who Laughs #4

“The Batman Who Laughs” – Part Four

Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Jock
Color Artist: David Baron
Letterer: Sal Cipriano

Review by Steve J. Ray

Jim Gordon has been captured by The Batman Who Laughs, and is now being held prisoner by The Grim Knight. Batman’s mind is becoming twisted and his perceptions are being altered, so that he now sees the world the same way that the Joker, or The Batman Who Laughs does. We left the last issue with our hero about to don a dark metal visor, just like the one worn by his new nemesis.

This series is blowing my mind. One of my favorite aspects of Batman’s character is the way he’s always in control, and cool under pressure. Seeing his mind scrambled to the extent that he is no longer capable of restraint is terrifying. We’ve seen the Dark Knight in trouble before, but when his own mind and body have turned against him, we have no option but to fear for his safety… and sanity.

Scott Snyder is writing a Batman thriller for the ages. This series is almost more a psychological horror story than a superhero adventure. Batman’s interactions with Alfred in this issue are some of the most heartfelt, and heartbreaking, I’ve ever read. Also, look out for a very surprising exchange between James Gordon Jr. and Batman. This was very enlightening and not at all what I was expecting.

Jock Of All Trades

The art in this book doesn’t disappoint either. Jock’s disjointed, edgy, scratchy visuals are the perfect fit for this story. The way he captures Alfred’s heartbreak and Bruce’s battle to keep control of his own mind are incredible. This is an artist who perfectly captures both the terror and emotions of his protagonists. Look at the facial expressions and body language of every single character. This may be a comic-book, but every look and movement is real.

David Baron’s use of color, including the decisions when not to, is sublime. Batman’s burning red eyes, the different feel of the Arkham he’s in, when compared to that of (yet another) alternate reality Bruce Wayne, are subtle and delicately handled. The simple flat tones and lack of color where it isn’t directly called for is beautifully managed. This man is clearly an artist in his own right, not just a “Colorist.” This is clear in the choices he’s made for the book, which enhance and elevate the line art.

It’s A Red Letter Day

All hail Sal Cipriano. I’m sure that Scott Snyder’s script calls for stress on certain words, and possibly even tells Sal when Bruce’s voice pattern breaks, but Mr. Cipriano’s the one who puts the finished effect on the page. The way Batman’s speech is slowly starting to resemble that of The Batman Who Laughs is scary. Certain words just break, and are in a different font and color to the rest of the sentence. The effect is jarring, and in all honesty, feels insane. I tried to read all of the Bat dialogue as Kevin Conroy, with the Mad-Libs as Mark Hamill. Let me tell you… the results are downright chilling.

Conclusion

I love it when I can’t see an out. I’m usually the one who annoys all around him by guessing plot twists and figuring out all the clues. Not this time. I’m genuinely scared for Batman. Any time that our hero can find himself seeing eye to eye with the Joker scares the living bejeezus out of me. The Dark Knight and the Clown Prince Of Crime share a “Moment” in this issue reminiscent of the final pages of “The Killing Joke.” I’ll leave it to you to work out your own feelings about this exchange. For me it’s just another reason why I have to give this horrible, HORRIBLE issue another:

Images Courtesy Of DC Entertainment


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Steve J Ray

Dad/husband, writer/artist, amateur chef and Bat-Fan Extraordinaire. Animal lover and fan of all things comic-book and sci-fi related. His wife thinks that he owns too many comics, books, and movies. He thinks this is an oxymoron.