Batman is in a fight for his life and the lives of everyone in Gotham City, but he is losing. The Batman Who Laughs has thwarted seemingly every back-up plan Batman has formulated. Thus, there is seemingly no hope left for the fate of Gotham. THE BATMAN WHO LAUGHS #3 puts Batman in the middle of a diverging path.

He must decide if the path he has resigned himself throughout his career is working against an enemy so merciless and so incredibly calculating. At the moment, Batman cannot outsmart The Batman Who Laughs nor can he bring himself to kill his alternate. Therefore, a choice must be made, one that will grant Batman the upper hand he so desperately needs, though at significant costs.

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THE BATMAN WHO LAUGHS #3 page 1. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

The New and Improved James Gordon, Jr.

Upon the end of THE BATMAN WHO LAUGHS #2, readers were reintroduced to James Gordon, Jr., Commissioner James Gordon’s psychopathic son who first appeared in BATMAN: THE BLACK MIRROR. Now, James is part of a unique program, one that supplies him with Diaxamyne II. In the context of this story, Diaxamyne II is a drug that ultimately accentuates one’s empathy. As a result, James now feels an overarching sense of shame for his past crimes.

Despite his reformation though, Commissioner Gordon and Batman both paid James a visit, seeking assistance from the “old” James. Per the previous issue, The Batman Who Laughs destroyed Batman’s failsafe for Gotham’s water supply should it to be contaminated with anything lethal. In this issue, though, we have come to discover that there is still one mechanism The Batman Who Laughs did not destroy. Thus, Batman must protect that mechanism at all costs.

He asks James which route The Batman Who Laughs will use to infect the water supply. In the events of THE BLACK MIRROR, James planned to use Gotham’s water system to drug newborn babies throughout the city. To Batman and Gordon’s dismay, James states that he cannot predict what route The Batman Who Laughs will use.

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THE BATMAN WHO LAUGHS #3 page 2. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

An Upgraded Cowl

In the midst of the three’s confrontation, The Grim Knight makes a sudden appearance. His objective? Taking Commissioner Gordon. The Grim Knight succeeds as Batman reveals that his failsafe, The Last Laugh, actually requires both Batman and Gordon’s authority to initiate it. Thus, Batman has suffered yet another loss. So, Batman makes a decision. He decided to succumb to the toxins that have slowly been infecting him in an effort to level the playing field with The Batman Who Laughs.

Therefore, THE BATMAN WHO LAUGHS #3 may be more dialogue-heavy than previous issues. Additionally, The Batman Who Laughs brief appearance terrorizing the Iceberg Lounge may feel nudged into the issue without a definitive purpose. However, the issue undoubtedly moves the plot forward as it gives Batman another rigorous defeat. THE BATMAN WHO LAUGHS #3 keeps us guessing and it keeps us terrified. Consequently, this particular installment bolsters the series as it pushes Batman’s limits, leaving us with absolutely no idea who he is about to become.

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THE BATMAN WHO LAUGHS #3 page 30. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

The Many Hues of THE BATMAN WHO LAUGHS #3

Jock’s artwork in THE BATMAN WHO LAUGHS #3 is much more simplistic than previous installments. This may be due to the multitude of static and dialogue-heavy sequences throughout the issue itself. Though, that static element is not necessarily a negative aspect.

The fragmented state of the panel plays into the fragmented personas of each Batman in this arc exemplify. Additionally, David Baron’s colors play an interesting role in this issue’s imagery. Despite the fact that the series maintains elements of the horror genre, Baron does not shy away from implementing lighter, vibrant tones. The sequence in the iceberg lounge perfectly exemplifies that implementation as Baron juxtaposes bright blue hues with the terrifying image of The Batman Who Laughs as he massacres Penguin’s guards.

I particularly enjoy Baron’s work in this issue because it subverts the idea that a work of horror can only be depicted through bleak imagery. So, once again, the artwork of THE BATMAN WHO LAUGHS #3 showcases its strength as it flawlessly exemplifies the gravity of the work’s narrative.

What Lies Beyond

THE BATMAN WHO LAUGHS #3 is a strong addition to the series thus far. With that being said though, I fervently hope this is not the last we will see of James Gordon, Jr. His character made a resounding impression on audiences in THE BLACK MIRROR. So, I hope to see his role expand in this series. In regard to other aspects of this issue, the conclusion is by far its most shocking moment. Batman has essentially surrendered himself to the dark side. So, is Batman destined to become a killer? We can only wait and see.

THE BATMAN WHO LAUGHS #3 by Scott Snyder, Jock, David Baron, & Sal Cipriano
Art
Characterization
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Summary
THE BATMAN WHO LAUGHS #3 painstakingly moves the plot forward with new character developments and one shocking cliffhanger.
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