Comic Reviews: Batman Who Laughs and Detective Comics!
The Batman Who Laughs #1 (DC Comics)
As the biggest breakout character from Dark Nights: Metal, it’s no surprise that The Batman Who Laughs was going to stick around the DC Universe. But it is a surprise to see the character back with not only Scott Snyder writing, but his Wytches artist Jock handling the art. It’s been a long time since the two have worked together on a series, but the they haven’t missed a step with The Batman Who Laughs #1, delivering a series that serves as both a sequel to Metal, and as a standalone Batman tale.
After discovering the body of Bruce Wayne on a crime scene, Batman knows there’s only one being behind this other dead Wayne: The Batman Who Laughs. Believed missing since the events of Metal, the Batman Who Laughs was actually held captive by the Legion of Doom, but now he’s out and ready to strike. With all of Batman’s history and training and none of his morals, Batman knows that he’s up against a truly deadly adversary, and that’s even without the fact that BWL has a new ally in his quest for chaos: the gun-toting “Grim Knight”. Up against such insurmountable odds, Batman turns to the only person who could help him stop these two twisted mirror images of himself: The Joker.
You don’t need me to tell you that Scott Snyder does a great job with this issue. But it is worth noting that this issue leans a lot more into the horror elements that Snyder is known for on books like Wytches and Severed than his standard superhero work. There’s a big sense of dread and uneasiness throughout the issue, and Snyder balances Batman’s wariness to take on these new foes with his usual preparedness in a way that legitimately makes me wonder what will happen in this series.
Jock’s a powerhouse of an artist on his own, but when he’s paired with Snyder on horror-themed titles, he’s unstoppable. That’s especially true here, as Jock’s art balances the superhero action with the horror of the Batman Who Laughs extremely well. It’s been a long while since we’ve seen Jock’s work as an interior artist, and Batman Who Laughs #1 was definitely worth the wait.
Even though it’s following the events of Metal, in a lot of ways The Batman Who Laughs is a strong enough debut issue that it can stand on it’s own. All you need to know is that this enemy has ties to Batman and The Joker, and he’s a very big deal. There was a considerable amount of hype surrounding this miniseries, and so far it’s looking like The Batman Who Laughs will more than live up to it.
Detective Comics #994 (DC Comics)
Like a lot of the first Rebirth titles, Detective Comics started off extremely strong, only to lose steam as different creative teams came and went on the title. The previous arc was honestly so bad that I almost dropped the book entirely. But when I saw that Peter J Tomasi and Doug Mahnke were going to be taking over the title leading into the big Detective Comics #1000, I had to stay on. And I’m glad I did, because while there are a few similarities to the other Batman title I reviewed this week, the end result is still so well done that I don’t even mind.
After exact duplicates of the bodies of Martha and Thomas Wayne are found in the Gotham Aquarium, Batman needs to start looking for answers. Namely, who would go to such trouble to perform plastic surgery on two innocent people to make them appear to be the Waynes, and what ties, if any, does it have to Batman and his secret life as Bruce Wayne? And how does it connect to the new creature that attacks Leslie Thompkins’ clinic in downtown Gotham?
We don’t get any answers to those questions just yet, but if this opening issue plays out like Tomasi’s previous comics work, then we’re in for a wild ride. While crafting a narrative that starts like a lot of other Batman stories, Tomasi’s decision to have the victims of the case appear to be near exact duplicates of the Waynes adds a whole new layer to the case, and Tomasi even has some surprisingly heartfelt little moments where Batman almost slips up a few times while checking over the victims, saying “my” and quickly correcting himself to cover his secret identity. This angle, while small, does wonders to mix up your usual Batman tale, and leads to a case that gets much more personal than typical Batman tales.
Of course, Doug Mahnke is an artist that needs no introduction. Like Tomasi’s other long-running collaborator Patrick Gleason, Mahnke works so in sync with Tomasi that the two are able to lift any project they are on. It’s impossible not to look at some of the pages in this issue and not say “wow”, with the title splash page being the biggest example. Mahnke is clearly firing on all cylinders here, and at this point, I’m almost convinced that he’s incapable of turning in a bad piece of art.
With so many comics coming out lately, it’s easy for some really good ones to fall through the cracks, but I hope that Detective Comics #994 finds a new spot on some pull lists. It’s a solidly made issue that shows what can happen when you put two creatives that are always a sure bet on a character that is one of the best that the medium has to offer. All signs point to Detective‘s march to issue 1000 being a good one.