The Batman Who Laughs

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The Batman Who Laughs
TheBatmanWhoLaughs.jpeg
The Batman Who Laughs and his Rabid Robins as depicted in The Batman Who Laughs #1 (January 2018)
Publication information
PublisherDC Comics
First appearanceDark Days: The Casting #1 (September 2017)
Created byScott Snyder (writer)
Greg Capullo (artist)
In-story information
Alter egoBruce Wayne
Place of originEarth -22 (Dark Multiverse)
Team affiliationsDark Knights of the Dark Multiverse
Legion of Doom
Secret Six
Justice League (Formerly)
Notable aliasesDarkest Knight
Abilities
  • Genius-level intellect
  • Peak human physical condition
  • Skilled martial artist and hand-to-hand combatant
  • Utilizes high-tech equipment and weapons

The Batman Who Laughs is a fictional character in DC Comics. He is a supervillain, and the evil counterpart and alternate version of Batman within the multiverse. He is depicted as a hybrid of both Batman (Bruce Wayne) and Batman's arch enemy Joker and is a member of the Dark Knights. His first appearance was in the crossover storyline Dark Nights: Metal, before receiving his own series and serving as the main antagonist in Batman/Superman in 2019 and DC Comics' Year of the Villain alongside Lex Luthor. He was created by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo.

Publication history[edit]

The Batman Who Laughs was created by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo first appearing in the comic book Dark Days: The Casting. The character was depicted as an alternate universe Batman who does not have a code against killing. Snyder explained his intent on the character in an interview by The Hollywood Reporter. "He's basically Batman's worst nightmare come to life: Batman, if he was infected by the Joker toxin and lost all sense of ethics. What he wants to do in Gotham is bring Bruce’s worst nightmares to life."[1] Snyder's hope was that his character would be popular enough to get his own comic book series, and Snyder believed that Jock "would be the perfect person to do it".[1]

Fictional character biography[edit]

The Batman Who Laughs is a version of Batman from Earth-22 of the Dark Multiverse. In that reality, the Earth -22 Joker learns of Batman's identity as Bruce Wayne and kills most of Batman's other rogues, along with Commissioner Gordon. He then subjects thousands of Gotham City’s citizens to the chemicals that transformed him, subsequently killing several parents in front of their children with the goal of turning them into a combination of himself and Batman. When Batman grapples with the Joker, it results in the latter's death as Batman is exposed to a purified form of the chemicals that gradually turn him into a new fusion of Batman and the Joker, one with Bruce Wayne's intelligence and physical strength and the Joker's psychopathy and warped, sadistic sense of humor. The process proves irreversible by the time Batman discovers what is happening to him. The Batman Who Laughs proceeds to take over Earth-22, killing off most of his allies and turning his son Damian Wayne into a mini-Joker and recruiting the children infected by the Joker Toxin as his "Rabid Robins". The Batman Who Laughs seems to be the leader or second-in-command of Barbatos' Dark Knights and recruits the other members.[2]

After arriving on Prime-Earth (Earth 0), the Batman Who Laughs takes control of Gotham and oversees events at the Challenger's mountain. He distributes joker cards to the Batman's Rogues, giving them the ability to alter reality and take over sections of the city.[3] Accompanying him are Dark Damian and three Rabid Robins, having intended to destroy all of reality by linking the Over-Monitor to Anti-Monitor's astral brain. The Batman Who Laughs is defeated when the Prime Universe Batman is aided by the Joker, who notes the alternate Batman's failure to perceive this scenario due to still being a version of Batman.[4]

While assumed dead, The Batman Who Laughs is revealed to be in the custody of Lex Luthor, who offers him a place in the Legion of Doom.[5] At some point during the formation of the Legion of Doom, Joker met with Lex Luthor and advised him not to bring the Batman Who Laughs into the group. The Batman Who Laughs talks to Lex Luthor about the worlds beyond the Source Wall as Joker listens in.[2]

The Batman Who Laughs eventually resumes his attack on Batman, drawing in a string of alternate versions of Bruce Wayne to taunt his counterpart as he prepares for a mass assault on Batman. As an additional asset, the Batman Who Laughs is allied with the Grim Knight, a version of Batman who uses guns and turned his Gotham into a military dictatorship. With no other way to stop his other self, Batman is forced to 'accept' a twisted 'transfusion' from the Joker that begins to turn him into a variation of the Batman Who Laughs, attempting to fight it down while relying on the psychosis of the technically-treated James Gordon Jr. to try to predict his foe. When the Batman Who Laughs draws in a version of Bruce Wayne who has not even lost his parents yet, Batman is able to defeat his other self by luring him into a confrontation in the Waynes' graveyard, with Alfred subsequently using a transfusion from the other Bruce to restore Batman to normal before he is sent home and the Batman who Laughs is locked up in the Hall of Justice dungeon. However, his serums did manage to infect Shazam, Blue Beetle, Donna Troy, Hawkman, Supergirl and Commissioner Gordon, (the latter was infected during issue 7 of The Batman Who Laughs miniseries by Scott Snyder).

A year later, The Batman Who Laughs is still locked up in the Hall of Justice, but with the help of his new Secret Six he begins to set his plan in motion. He starts by having Commissioner Gordon lead Batman and Superman to the cave under Crime Alley where King Shazam will infect Superman. Later, Superman appears seemingly "infected" (with Batman listening in). making their way to the Hall of Justice weapons room. The Batman Who Laughs tells Superman that he plans to infect the world with his serum. He then makes an off-handed comment to Clark that his plan will be like the destruction of Krypton and Lois and Jon won't survive. Superman attacks The Batman Who Laughs, seemingly blowing his cover. However, the whole thing was revealed to be an illusion by Batman, with The Batman Who Laughs praising him saying that he had a similar system on his own world. The Batman Who Laughs' next step is having Scarab (the infected Blue Beetle) hack the Fortress of Solitude and Batcave computers. As this is happening, he begins taunting Clark saying that they were all evil inside and that he will soon know, but as Superman is about to be infected Supergirl catches the tainted Batarang and is unwittingly infected (as the batarang was designed to infect Kryptonians). As the Legion of Doom signal shines in the sky, The Batman Who Laughs muses to himself that he is on a collision course with Lex Luthor, but isn't too concerned because as he puts it, "Batman always wins."

In the "Watchmen" sequel "Doomsday Clock", the Batman Who Laughs is among the villains who are analyzed by Doctor Manhattan when Guy Gardner uses his power ring to show the constructs of villains that they have faced.[6]

During the "Dark Nights: Death Metal" storyline, The Batman Who Laughs becomes Perpetua's lieutenant. Aided by an army of evil Batmen from the Dark Multiverse called the Dark Knights (consisting of Baby Batman, Batmansaurus Rex, Batmobeast, Castle Bat, and Robin King), they enforces her rule. When Wonder Woman decides the best cause of action is to make the first Anti-Crisis following a talk with Wally West, she is confronted by the Batman Who Laughs, whom she proceeds to gut with an invisible Chainsaw of Truth. Though dead, the Dark Knights set to work to unleash the Batman Who Laughs’ true plan; preparing the body of the final Bruce Wayne.[7] This body happens to be Batmanhattan, a version of Bruce Wayne who copied the formula that created Doctor Manhattan.[8] At Castle Bat, the Dark Knights succeed in transferring the Batman Who Laughs’ brain into Batmanhattan, an action that may have repercussions if Perpetua were to find out. After Perpetua warns the Batman Who Laughs of the beings like her who may sense her actions (worried they might destroy her), he proceeds to wipe out the remaining Dark Knights with the exception of Robin King. The Batman Who Laughs then shifts into a new form called the "Darkest Knight" exclaiming that he knows Diana plans to remake the Multiverse, he however wants to make "52 Planets of Nightmares".[9] The Darkest Knight and the Robin King break into Valhalla Cemetery. Knowing that they are after Wally's power, Jay Garrick, Barry Allen, and Wally West run with the Darkest Knight giving chase.[10] Barry, Wally, and Jay team up with Kid Flash and the rest of the Flash family to outrun the Darkest Knight and his army of Dark Multiverse Flashes in order to reach the Mobius Chair.[11] After some convincing from Wonder Woman who traveled back in time to the "Infinite Crisis", Superboy-Prime shatters the Crisis worlds, saving Batman and Superman in the process, and directs all energy to Wally. However, it does not work. Before they had a chance, the Darkest Knight rigged the Mobius Chair so it would always direct the power to himself. And now he has everything he needs to remake the Multiverse in his own image called the Last 52.[12]

Powers and abilities[edit]

The Batman Who Laughs is depicted as having the same abilities as Batman, combined with the twisted nihilism of the Joker. This contributed to the reasons why Batman was forced to ally with the Joker to stop his counterpart, as he anticipated that his other self retained his existing tactical abilities and therefore an alliance between Batman and the Joker was the only thing his counterpart could never anticipate. Hailing from the Dark Multiverse, he is able to see people's dark urges and fears, visualized as alternate realities of their current actions. His characteristic metal crown functions as a futuristic visor made out of "Dark Metal", allowing him to filter these actions and pinpoint his opponents' next moves during combat and manipulate them psychologically by using his knowledge of their fears. Unlike Batman, he opts for lethal weapons that allows him to kill swiftly, including but not limited to machine guns, knives, a chain weapon with a batarang attached at the end and various assortment of bladed weapons.

The Batman Who Laughs also uses batarangs made of “Dark Metal” that can bring out the worst version of the victim. He used these when he created a new incarnation of the Secret Six using infected Justice League members.

During the events of Dark Knights: Death Metal, The Batman Who Laughs gains the powers of Dr. Manhattan by having Dr. Arkham surgically integrate his mind into that of a Bruce Wayne with Manhattan’s powers, granting him nigh-omnipotence, flight, and teleportation among other powers. After absorbing Wally West’s Manhattan powers, his power drastically increases.

Like the inhabitants of the Dark Multiverse, The Batman Who Laughs has a weakness to Nth Metal.

Reception[edit]

The Batman Who Laughs has been commonly described as "horrifying" by website authors.[13][14][15] Comic Book Resources describes The Batman Who Laughs as comprising all the "best" parts of Batman and the "worst" parts of the Joker.[16]

The character has been compared to Judge Death in design.[17] Scott Snyder, the creator of The Batman Who Laughs, noted that the two characters have a similar aesthetic.[18][19]

In other media[edit]

Video games[edit]

  • In Mortal Kombat 11, The Batman Who Laughs was used as a DLC skin for Noob Saibot with the Elseworld Skin Pack exclusive to Kombat Pack owners upon the release of the Joker as DLC.
  • In DC Universe Online, The Batman Who Laughs is the primary antagonist in the Metal Part I episode. Through his machinations, the heroes are tricked into delivering special metal to his multiversal spire which begins to drag Earth into the Dark Multiverse. He returns in Metal Part II, attempts to Joker toxin bomb the Oblivion Bar with the assembled heroes inside, but was ultimately defeated along with the other Dark Knights and Barbatos in the Dark Multiverse.

Board games[edit]

The Batman Who Laughs Rising is a 2020 cooperative, strategy dice game from The Op.

Merchandise[edit]

Knight Models has a line of gaming miniatures based on the DC comics run. Funko has released action figures of the character.[20] Various figures from companies such as Diamond Select Toys and Prime 1 Studios have produced figures as well.[19] McFarlane Toys has also made a version of The Batman Who Laughs for their new DC Multiverse line of 7 inch figures.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b McMillan, Graeme (December 3, 2018). "'Batman Who Laughs' Reveals Dark Knight's Worst Fears (Exclusive Preview)". The Hollywood Reporter. Los Angeles, California: Valence Media. Retrieved March 26, 2019.
  2. ^ a b James Tynion IV (w), Jason Fabok
    Brad Anderson (a), Tom Napolitano (let), Eddie Berganza (ed). "The Batman Who Laughs" The Batman Who Laughs 1 (January 2018), New York City: DC Comics
  3. ^ Teen Titans Vol. 6 #12. DC Comics.
  4. ^ Dark Knights: Metal #6. DC Comics.
  5. ^ Justice League Vol. 4 #7. DC Comics.
  6. ^ Geoff Johns (w), Geoff Johns (a), Rob Leigh (let), Brian Cunningham (ed). "Crisis" Doomsday Clock 9 (May 2019), New York City: DC Comics
  7. ^ Dark Nights: Death Metal #1. DC Comics.
  8. ^ Dark Nights: Death Metal: Legends of the Dark Knights (2020). DC Comics.
  9. ^ Dark Nights: Death Metal #2. DC Comics.
  10. ^ Dark Nights: Death Metal #3. DC Comics.
  11. ^ Dark Nights: Death Metal: Speed Metal #1. DC Comics.
  12. ^ Dark Nights: Death Metal #4. DC Comics.
  13. ^ Polo, Susana (11 December 2018). "The Batman Who Laughs is back, and he brought a new Nightmare Batman". Polygon. Retrieved 26 March 2019.
  14. ^ Pulliam-Moore, Charles (8 October 2017). "The Nightmarish, Joker-esque Batman From Metal Has an Amazing, Horrifying Origin Story". io9. Retrieved 26 March 2019.
  15. ^ Johnson, Jim (17 February 2019). "There's a New Batman Who Laughs, and He Just Might Be a Good Guy". CBR. Retrieved 26 March 2019.
  16. ^ LaPointe, Sarah (7 December 2018). "Dark Knight's Mettle: 15 Things That Make The Batman Who Laughs the Best (and Worst) Batman". Comic Book Resources. Quebec, Ontario, Canada: Valnet, Inc. Retrieved 26 March 2019.
  17. ^ Brown, Dan (15 March 2019). "Brown: The Batman Who Laughs seems inspired by Judge Death". The London Free Press. London, Ontario, Canada: Postmedia. Retrieved 26 March 2019.
  18. ^ Burlingame, Ross (July 12, 2018). "Scott Snyder and Jock On Their "Terrifyingly Expansive" Series, 'The Batman Who Laughs'". Comicbook.com. Retrieved March 26, 2019.
  19. ^ a b Konrad, Jeremy (August 2, 2018). "Batman Who Laughs Gets a Ridiculously Awesome Statue From Prime 1 Studio". Bleeding Cool.
  20. ^ Fallon, Sean (January 15, 2019). "The Batman Who Laughs Previews Exclusive Funko Pop is Almost Here". comicbook.com. Retrieved March 27, 2019.

External links[edit]