As Batman grapples with the toxin that is slowly consuming him, Jim Gordon battles The Grim Knight while his psychopathic son grapples with his own worse impulses. The people of Gotham dangle by a thread and along with it, the fate of the multiverse’s last Batman. Can they survive, or will The Batman Who Laughs have the last laugh?! Find out in our stunning Major Spoilers review!
Writer: Scott Snyder
Colorist: David Baron
Letterer: Sal Cipriano
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: June 13th, 2019
Previously in The Batman Who Laughs: With the Joker serum on the march through his body, Batman only has a limited time to thwart the Batman Who Laughs ‘Last Laugh’ protocol before it turns Gotham into a breeding ground for evil. The race is on to find the one true Batman and along the way, Jim Gordon and his crazed son are drawn in to battle The Grim Knight, the version of young Bruce Wayne who killed his parent’s murderer. But now, with serum’s relentless toll on Batman, is there time for him to spring the trap he has laid for The Batman Who Laughs?
LET IT BLEED
The Batman Who Laughs #6 leaves it all on the page – the histrionics, the tantrums, the boisterous threats and the world-shaking events. The thud and blunder of Snyder’s writing rains down on the reader, leaving them exhausted by the time they reach the final (predictable) page. For all the ranting, on both sides, The Batman Who Laughs #6 is a fun, deeply pulpy read that should try less for the psychological depth it is reaching for, and fully embrace the camp madness it always threatens to plunge into.
With Gotham City locked down, and Batman fighting a losing battle against the Joker serum while laying a trap for his darker nemesis, Jim Gordon and his crazy son battle The Grim Knight, The Batman Who Laughs lieutenant. The story careens along, as the final alternate versions of Bruce Wayne are picked off, with The Batman Who Laughs searching for the one true Batman, and ‘our’ Batman’s desperate efforts to remain human long enough to thwart the destruction of his city.
Snyder makes sure that The Batman Who Laughs has all the fun and all the best lines. While Batman busily grits his teeth and sets his traps, The Batman Who Laughs capers and cavorts, words dripping with venom and menace. Despite the diversion to Gordon battling his conflicted feelings for his son and The Grim Knight, The Batman Who Laughs is the main game, the central character in a grim tragedy ready swamping Gotham City and the Multiverse.
Never let it be said the Snyder doesn’t pour everything onto the page. The writing isn’t subtle, even when he’s trying for emotional and psychological depth, as seen in the scenes between Jim Gordon and his son. Snyder sacrifices depth in favour of the striking phrase or put down. Everyone in The Batman Who Laughs #6 is on edge – Batman struggling to remain human, Gordon battling his son and The Grim Knight, and the city of the cusp of turning wholly evil due to the ‘Last Laugh’ protocol readying to be triggered.
Artist Jock similarly lets it all hang out. The Batman Who Laughs #6 is an issue composed of blacks and reds – deep shadows of lingering evil, with the promise of endless rivers of blood once The Batman Who Laughs wins the day. There are striking moments of artwork, especially the demonic The Batman Who Laughs, who is all slavering angles and impossibly long limbs, waiting to pounce and rend Batman limb from limb. Like the writing, there’s nothing subtle here, no breathing moments to linger on, but instead an endless cavalcade of images designed to impress, upset and torment. It’s like the reader has leapt into a Bosch painting, with evil and mayhem on all sides promising an eternity of misery and suffering.
Special note must go to letterer Sal Cipriano, whose work in The Batman Who Laughs #6 is stellar and integral to depicting the disintegration of Batman as the Joker serum’s relentless march through his body takes its inevitable toll. The jagged red lettering depicts both The Batman Who Laughs when it speaks, but also Batman’s accelerating descent. It perfectly encapsulates the changes that are racing through Batman, with the promise of his permanent corruption drawing ever closer.
BOTTOM LINE: PULSE POUNDING ACTION
Those looking for psychological depth or true emotions need not purchase The Batman Who Laughs #6. It barely glances at them, instead taking the route high on emotion and angst, where every word uttered drips with the sort of psychological import teenage boys once ached over before they learned better. It is, nonetheless, a gripping read, with potent imagery from Jock bringing to demonic life one of the great Batman villains. In time, we may all look back at The Batman Who Laughs series and wonder what all the fuss was about – but there is no denying in the here and now the old maxim – tis better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.
The Batman Who Laughs #6
Once Snyder gets the bit between his teeth, he doesn’t let go. With all the grace of a hippopotamus performing Swan Lake, The Batman Who Laughs #6 crashes into the comic’s scene. It’s fun, it's shallow, it’s gripping and it’s hugely entertaining.