It’s Batman versus… Batman? How can you defeat a foe who knows your every thought? Your Major Spoilers review of The Batman Who Laughs #7 awaits!
Writer: Scott Snyder
Colorist: David Baron
Letterer: Sal Cipriano
Editor: Katie Kubert
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $4,99
Release Date: July 31, 2019
Previously in The Batman Who Laughs: It’s the final showdown between Batman and the Batman Who Laughs… but how do you defeat a foe who knows your every instinct and every move? Bruce Wayne will have to outsmart Bruce Wayne in this ultimate test of good versus evil.
A BATMAN INFECTED
As we open, The Batman Who Laughs (henceforth referred to as TBWL) is apparently triumphant, having murdered his way across the Dark Multiverse to find The Worst Batman of all (henceforce referred to as TWB), and infecting him with the same toxins that made TBWL what he is today. His monologue spans several pages, explaining that as soon as the light on his special vial turns red, it means that The Worst Batman will be fully infected with his madness, after which TBWL will infect all of Gotham City. Oh, and he’ll murderize TWB. In the Batcave, three more men in bat-suits fight it out, with Commissioner Gordon and his son James nearly killing one another, as a third Bat watches. Most of this combat is portrayed in shadow, by the way, and it’s REALLY hard to tell who is who, especially since the characters aren’t explicitly identified as they appear. When the light turns red, TBWL is stunned to see that TWB has not fully turned, and that even the worst Batman is still smart enough to rig WayneTech equipment. Suddenly, a young Bruce Wayne makes his appearance, leading to a chase through a cemetery and TBWL confronting the worst thing in the DC Universe: Alfred Pennyworth with a shotgun.
THAT COVER IS NIGHTMARE-INDUCING
As readers, it’s easy to wish for matchups like this story, with Batman facing down an evil Batman, but it’s easy to forget that comics are traditionally rigged in the favor of the heroes. That means that, no matter how much angsting The Batman Who Laughs does about whether or not he’s up to the task, no matter how much blood and gristle and scenery The Batman Who Laughs chews, this story is likely going to end with a win for the good guy. This book (and the series to date) has leaned hard into the horror aspects, but in the end, it’s a superhero story, and ends like a superhero story. Then, the final panel reveals that, not only have we NOT resolved the situation, but we’re now going to spin right out into Superman/Batman #1 and a new event comic and it’s just exhausting. These are talented creators and the technical aspects of this comic are sound. Jock delivers on bloodied exhausted Batman facing down an onslaught from a monstrous evil reflection, it delivers on an archetypical father/son battle in the caves under Gotham, it even delivers on the last-second save by an exhausted hero, a blood-drenched moment resolved by a sudden, unexpected cameo that really does work…
BOTTOM LINE: ABSOLUTELY NOT FOR ME
So, if that much of the book is successful, why am I so tired after reading it? Part of it is the endless philosophizing between the Batmen, part of it stems from the quintessential Batman problem of how to challenge a character who is explicitly prepared for everything, but most of it comes from the problem of The Batman Who Laughs, designed to be a villain with all the powers of Batman. Since Batman is portrayed more and more as indomitable, any ending other than evil Batman winning feels anticlimactic and inauthentic to the horror of the story to date, leaving The Batman Who Laughs #7 as a bombastic, red-tinged scream, and even the talents of the creators can’t overcome the problem of the main character himself, leaving the book with 3 out of 5 stars overall. I am most definitely not the target audience, though, and I expect to see more rave reviews of this issue and the follow-up issues of Superman/Batman when they arrive, as Snyder and Jock know how to appeal to Bat-fans.
I just don’t want to read about this character ever again.
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THE BATMAN WHO LAUGHS #7
There are some cool moments in a whirlwind of blood and word balloons but the overall effect is one of despair and reader exhaustion.