One of the best things to come out of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s epic run on DC Comics was the Dark Knights Metal event, more specifically… The Batman Who Laughs. This dark and twisted Batman has only been around for a few short years but has already cemented himself as one of the top villains that the Dark Knight himself has ever had to face. Though for many this “Batman Who Laughs” is a complete enigma and nothing of his like has ever been seen before.
Let’s Dive right in and find out how he came to be and where he is from…
Batman Who Laughs actually has a bit of a tragic beginning. Identical to the main earth Batman, his parents were murdered in the alley in Park Row in front of him; and he became the Batman to fight injustice in his city. One night, the Joker goes off and does something he has never done, he destroys Gotham City. Joker murdered every single member of Batman’s Rogues Gallery, captured Batman, killed Jim Gordon by dissolving him in acid and set the City on fire by blowing up various buildings. After all this was done he had his goons grab families and line them up one after the other. He would kill the parents in front of the children and then infect the kids with his Joker toxin to try and turn some of them as insane as himself. Batman was able to break out of his restraints and viciously beat the Joker before snapping his neck and killing him. When Joker died, a nano-toxin that had been stored in his heart escaped his body and Batman breathed it in.
Over the next few days Batman began to change slowly but surely into a bastardized version of Joker and Batman. When Superman explains to him that the “Jokerized” children are being held at S.T.A.R. Labs and that one had nearly ripped a doctor’s throat out, Batman audibly laughs shocking Superman.
Three days later, he brings the entire Bat-family (except for his son Damian) to the Bat-cave to undergo some rigorous training. Nightwing could tell something was wrong and convinced Bruce to open up to them (Himself, Red Hood, Red Robin and Batgirl). Bruce told them about him killing the Joker and the inhalation of the nano-toxin that had mutated in Joker’s body with no possible cure. The Bat-family came to realization that they were brought there to train to fight Batman. Bruce stifles a laugh and says that he knew they would be the first to notice something was off and warn the other heroes which he couldn’t allow. He then turned around with a pair of machine guns and gunned his entire family down in the Bat-cave with a smile on his face.
One week later, he has killed the entire Justice League, with various weapons held in the League’s vault on the Watchtower. With only Superman remaining alive to stand against him. Bruce reveals his “Jokerized” Robins and tells Clark he’s going to let loose on the world because he doesn’t want to hold back anymore. He then infects Superman and his son Jon (Superboy) with black Kryptonite before locking them in a room with Lois and watching as they, in a berserk rage, rip her apart before dying of Kryptonite poisoning.
Soon after the defeat of the League and the “Man of Steel”, the world crumbled under his unstoppable attacks. Eventually the Bat-God, Barbatos, found him and recruited him to form a team of other evil versions of Batman so they could invade the multiverse and turn it all into darkness. The Batman Who Laughs agreed and set off across the negative multiverse finding the most dangerous versions of himself to help him and Barbatos in their invasion.
WHERE HE IS FROM
The Batman Who Laughs is from Earth -22 which is part of the dark multiverse. Every world contained in the Dark multiverse was slowly being destroyed by unseen forces and Barbatos wanted to combine the regular multiverse with the dark multiverse to create his new dark universe.
WHAT DID HE DO?
Apart from, you know, everything he did to get to become the Batman Who Laughs, he was also responsible for the near destruction of the multiverse. He traveled the dark multiverse recruiting other Dark Knights to help him in his attack and destruction of the multiverse; he gathered others like him that had become bastardized versions of Batman: Red Death (Batman/Flash), Devastator (Batman/Doomsday), The Drowned (female Batman/Aquaman), Dawnbreaker (Batman/Green Lantern), Murder Machine (Cyborg/Batman) and The Merciless (Batman/Ares). Each of these Dark Knights have gotten twisted and turned into something that Bruce himself swore to destroy all those years ago before he donned his suit for the first time.
Along with the Batman Who Laughs, these Dark Knights invaded our multiverse and attempted to destroy it. The bat God, Barbatos, used the dark metals to force a bridge between the dark multiverse and the regular multiverse using Batman as a conduit because he had been exposed to all the metals. Barbatos was created by the World Forger to destroy unstable worlds from the multiverse, but having only ever known to destroy he killed his creator and the dark multiverse began to grow.
Once the Dark Knights arrived, they set about taking over the world and destroying any heroes in their path. The Batman Who laughs ruled Gotham after providing a card made of dark metal to several inmates of Arkham and allowing them control over a portion of the City. Eventually Batman and Superman were forced to find the World Forger and find a way to stop Barbatos from sinking their multiverse into the dark multiverse to destroy it. Wonder Woman and Hawkgirl were tasked with holding back the hordes of evil versions of the League from the dark multiverse (thousands of them), a task that was futile. It came down to both the warriors, beaten and bloody, making one final charge into the fray to try and buy Superman and Batman time to destroy the “Dragon of the Forge” and restart the world forge.
The entire phenomenon was a fantastic run and the end result triggered the Source Wall of all creation to crack, which is a BIG problem…
WHAT HE’S DONE SINCE
He starred in an ongoing run centering on his own work in Gotham. I’m currently reading it and am loving every minute of it! Not only did he beat Batman and make him second guess everything, he kept his secret weapon hidden for the entire Metal event. Along with his other Dark Knights, he brought with him one more twisted version of Batman, the Grim Knight. The Batman Who Laughs describes him as “…the version of us that picked up the gun in the alley that night and shot Joe Chill”. The Grim Knight is basically if the Punisher and Batman had a love child and he didn’t care who he killed, criminal or innocent it doesn’t matter, if you’re in his way or a threat to his plan, you die.
I’m not 100% sure where this run is going to go, but I do have some inkling as one of the channels I follow on Youtube, Variant Comics, kind of spoiled it. Not only that, but I just bought it in graphic novel form and it has been out in single issues for over a year.
There you have it! In my opinion the best Batman Villain of all time is himself! See you next time!