The Batman Who Laughs #4 is published by DC Comics, written by Scott Snyder, with art by Jock, colors by David Baron, and letters by Sal Cipriano. The issue follows Bruce Wayne after has fully become something closer to the enemy he is trying to defeat, The Batman Who Laughs, after self-administering a Joker toxin.
This issue starts off with Bruce trying to remind himself of happiness, which he says in his darkest moments and during the worst missions is his children, and ultimately seeing the world through their eyes. This panel shows a joyful Dick Grayson swinging as Robin over the streets of Gotham only to quickly cut back to the Batcave where a strung-out Bruce Wayne attacks Alfred before coming back to his senses. The moment between Bruce and Alfred is heart-wrenching as Bruce begins to strangle a much older Alfred who feels he has once again failed his pseudo-son.
Despite Batman’s no-killing rule, he has always toed the moral line and in this issue, he takes another step closer to the deep end. Here, he continues his quest to stop the Batman Who Laughs before he kills another Bruce Wayne from the multiverse and gets one step closer to activating the Last Laugh. Now, with the continued help of James Gordon Jr., Batman must also stay ahead of his smartest villain yet, and the most dangerous Dark Knight in the dark multiverse: the Grim Knight.
This issue was absolutely haunting. A memorizing and depressive sort of haunt that is similar to the dread felt in the Dark Knights: Metal event. That being said, it’s much more intimate. While the stakes aren’t world-ending per se, Bruce is very close to losing himself and everyone he loves.
Ultimately, Bruce has voluntarily gone insane in hopes of defeating the Batman Who Laughs. He is out of options and out of time. Synder has been working up to this story since his “Black Mirror” arc within his Batman run and it is a testament to his ability as a storyteller to continue weaving so many elements from previous arcs into these panels.
The entire book consists of flawless panel transitions from Jock making it hard at times to decipher, if even for a moment, which Batman is on the page. While it is confusing for a second, this decision makes sense considering where Bruce’s head is quickly going. Additionally, Cipriano’s lettering work is filled with brilliant visual cues that show how quickly Bruce’s mental state is deteriorating. Soon every other word is painted in the red, dripping font that is so classically officiated with the Batman Who Laughs.
Snyder and Jock’s horror roots continue to work in their favor throughout this book. This is my favorite Batman book on shelves right now and while a lot of people gave mixed reviews toward Dark Knights: Metal, I encourage them to pick up this book anyway. It has all the elements that make a dark Batman story work – deep psychological themes revolving around Father complexes, the darkness of the human psyche, the Joker’s idea of “One Bad Day,” and a compelling villain that Bruce is so far, unlikely to beat.
Overall, The Batman Who Laughs #4 is another incredible issue and with only two more remaining in the mini-series, I am bittersweet to see its conclusion.
The Batman Who Laughs #4 is available now wherever comic books are sold.
The Batman Who Laughs #4
It has all the elements that make a dark Batman story work – deep psychological themes revolving around Father complexes, the darkness of the human psyche, the Joker’s idea of “One Bad Day,” and a compelling villain that Bruce is so far, unlikely to beat. Overall, The Batman Who Laughs #4 is another incredible issue and with only two more remaining in the mini-series, I am bittersweet to see it’s conclusion.