The Batman Who Laughs #3 Review

by Hussein Wasiti on February 13, 2019

Written by Scott Snyder
Art by Jock
Colouring by David Baron
Lettering by Sal Cipriano
This book, truly, is getting better and better with each issue. We've all read different kinds of "definitive" Batman stories and this has the makings of sliding near the top spot of that list.
This book is playing with the assertion that Batman's greatest enemy is Batman himself. His ego, his stubbornness to recognise that his crusade isn't as impactful as he'd like it to be, and his only rule are all what makes the Batman Who Laughs a defining villain. The Batman Who Laughs is the inevitability. That Batman will one day kill the Joker and become what he's spent years trying to take down. Of all of the DC characters, if there was one character who'd sometimes resort to taking lives, it would have to be Batman. He's faced with truly unstoppable forces, and not the ones who can run through buildings and are so strong that they can't literally be stopped. They can't be stopped because once they're in prison, they're going to get out and kill even more people.
This is what Scott Snyder and Jock are layering into this story. It takes the usual "hero fighting another version of themselves" trope and turns it on its head. He's fighting his mistake, or who he may be destined to become.
Batman recognises that he needs to think like the Batman Who Laughs, or the Joker, in order to find out how to stop this threat to the city. That's why he enlists the help of James Gordon Jr. James is rehabilitated and is on the road to recovery. Batman spends the majority of this issue trying to unlock that dark side of James, the side that he's spent so long trying to bury. Instead of giving in to his own darkness, Batman is willing to make another person do this for him. This is the headspace that Batman is in, and it's so wonderfully realised by this team.
Jock's work is just so stunning. This is a conversation-heavy issue and I feel like Jock opens up his expression-work here for the sake of some reactions, particularly those from James Jr, who's a lot different than when we last saw him. I love how he portrays the Batman Who Laughs and the Joker as these elementally-lanky figures who don't appear human. They're brilliant portrayals of the character. Sal Cipriano's lettering work here is also amazing. I love the way that certain words are highlighted or even Joker-ised as Batman is slowly losing himself over the course of the issue. In general, there's a lot of transitional lettering that is very well done.
One more thing I want to mention is how Snyder writes the Batman Who Laughs himself. He's written a lot of Joker dialogue over the years, but the Batman Who Laughs isn't as outwardly funny out flamboyant as the Joker. In fact, the humour he spouts it is rather dull, not in a quality sense but Snyder somehow manages to make it seem like his humour is blunted. Maybe it's the lack of exclamation points, which I believe is common in Joker's dialogue, gives the dialogue a different flavour.
This book is just precious. While I can't speak to the implications of this issue given its ending, this is going to be an amazing story to just hand to somebody who wants to read an iconic Batman story.

Our Score:


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