The first installment of writer Scott Snyder’s THE BATMAN WHO LAUGHS pulled us into the commencement of a terrifying Batman tale. Not only is Batman confronting a hideously evil version of himself in both the Grim Knight and in the Batman Who Laughs, but our titular hero is also fighting the forces of nature that compel him to become the killer he vows not to become. Thus, in THE BATMAN WHO LAUGHS #2, the Dark Knight’s internal and external conflicts only escalate.

This latest installment is a tale of psychological horror through and through. The story reminds us that we all have experienced thoughts, actions, and moments of darkness, all comprise experiences that seem foreign to our true persona. Therefore, a story such as THE BATMAN WHO LAUGHS #2 compels us to ponder what the darkest versions of ourselves would be like, a thought we want to suppress as to not face such a chilling concept about ourselves.

Thus, one cannot help but sympathize with Batman’s current, chaotic state of mind. He is witnessing his most deplorable decisions exemplified in a corrupted version of himself. Consequently, perhaps the most terrifying aspect of all of this is the knowledge that the difference between Batman and the Batman Who Laughs was merely one choice that birthed something abhorrent. So, how far are we from becoming the thing we fear the most?

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THE BATMAN WHO LAUGHS #2 page 1. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Who Has the Last Laugh?

THE BATMAN WHO LAUGHS #2 kicks off some time after its predecessor. Alfred reluctantly operates on the Joker, who had just shot himself in the heart. Meanwhile, Batman, who has become infected by Joker’s toxins, repeatedly injects himself with an antidote. Unfortunately, for Batman, that antidote is a temporary solution, merely delaying the overall effects of the toxins. Sometime later, Commissioner Gordon discovers the dead body of yet another man named Bruce Wayne.

Batman deduces that rhe Batman Who Laughs is pulling these Bruce Waynes from different dimensions and killing them. He theorizes that the Batman Who Laughs is using Bruce Waynes’ blood to formulate a serum, one designed to infect individuals with dark matter. This infection would then cause the individuals to become the darkest versions of themselves, ultimately parallels to the Batman Who Laughs.

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

The Damned

Fortunately, Batman tells Gordon about a defense against a potential dark matter-infection of Gotham City. During his stint with the Court of Owls, Batman came to discover a defense system entitled the Last Laugh. This system’s purpose was designed to inoculate the city should anything terrible poison it. Unsurprisingly, the central hub lies in Wayne Tower. Unfortunately, though, the Batman Who Laughs infiltrates the building and slaughters all the guards inside. His motive? Destroying the Last Laugh.

Soon after the Batman Who Laughs’ break-in, Batman arrives at Wayne Tower to stop his double. However, the Grim Knight suddenly appears and shoots Batman in the chest, stopping him. The Batman Who Laughs thus successfully dismantles the Last Laugh as Wayne Tower collapses. So, in a desperate effort to save Gotham City, Commissioner Gordon seeks an unexpected ally to join him in the fight against the Batman Who Laughs. The ally? James Gordon, Jr.

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

Guess Who’s Back?

THE BATMAN WHO LAUGHS #2 is simply an incredible comic book. I love Snyder’s depiction of Batman’s resistance against the Joker toxins. We engage in his struggle, his reluctance to give in. Though, we also witness Batman’s susceptibility to the toxins. As a result, we get this jarring tension between the non-killing Batman we know to be and the side of him that shares its nature with the Batman Who Laughs. Thus, one of the best aspects of this series so far has been the characterizations of the Grim Knight, the Batman Who Laughs, and Batman himself.

Snyder provides each character as a distinct facet of the overarching Batman persona. As a result, one can interpret this story as a battle between “Batmen” fighting for control over that definitive Batman figure. What defines Batman? His violence? His reluctance to kill? This story unpacks that to a tee.

Now, the final pages reintroducing James Gordon, Jr. into the Batman mythos is an incredibly exciting development in THE BATMAN WHO LAUGHS narrative. I cannot wait to see James’ contribution simply because his character is so incredibly captivating yet chilling.

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THE BATMAN WHO LAUGHS #2 page 4. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

The Many Hues of THE BATMAN WHO LAUGHS #2

The art of THE BATMAN WHO LAUGHS #2 actually comprised a couple of parallels to BATMAN: THE BLACK MIRROR in my opinion. The opening sequence, depicting Alfred operating on Joker’s heart, reminded me of the sequence in BLACK MIRROR that depicts a woman sliding out the belly of a whale.

The raw opening image of a heart reminds me of the whale sequence in BLACK MIRROR. The images may not look totally similar. However, they share an inherent gruesomeness that is capable of making one sick to their stomach. The sequence in which the Batman Who Laughs slaughters the guards in Wayne Tower shares that gruesome nature as well. However, what I like about Jock’s work in this particular issue is that these gritty and gruesome images are not gratuitous. Rather, they are raw and exemplify the terrors evoked in the story’s narrative.

As a result, Jock’s imagery truly sets the tone of the story, bringing us into the grim world it exists within.

What Lies Beyond For THE BATMAN WHO LAUGHS #2?

THE BATMAN WHO LAUGHS #2 is an epic continuation of the saga that has only just begun. From the impeccable plot to the incredible artwork, the issue is simply masterful. As a result, words cannot describe the excitement I have for what lies ahead in this series. The connections to BATMAN: THE BLACK MIRROR are incredibly exciting as is the continued implementation of aspects within the horror genre. This run is undoubtedly one of the most unique and enrapturing works out there right now. So, it is most definitely a run you would not want to miss out on.

THE BATMAN WHO LAUGHS #2 by Scott Snyder, Jock, David Baron, & Sal Cipriano
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
THE BATMAN WHO LAUGHS #2 is a cohesive horror story that challenges the Dark Knight in a horrifying manner. So, even if we may want to look away at some points, the issue is so mesmerizing that we simply cannot.
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