I noticed a pretty cool trend that DC Comics has started, they’re putting out trailers promoting the release of some of their high profile graphic novels. Scott Snyder, current writer of the DC Comics series Justice League, is not only one of the best writers in the comic book industry, he’ also cemented his status as the definitive Batman the writer of the 21st century so far. His Batman run with artist Greg Capullo (2011-2016) is among the best work ever done with the character. Snyder and Capullo’s collaboration on stories like The Court of Owls, Death of The Family, and Dark Nights: Metal are modern day classics. It was out of Dark Nights: Metal that one of Snyder and Capullo’s most terrifying creations was born… The Batman Who Laughs.
On an alternate Earth in The Dark Multiverse, The Joker finally does something so terrible that Batman snaps and kills him. Unbeknownst to Bruce, Joker had created a toxin that would be released from his body at the moment of his death, infecting the person who killed him and turning them into the next Joker. As he succumbs to the toxin, he systematically kills his friends and family, wiping out The Bat-Family and The Justice League with cruel, brutal efficiency. Eventually he destroyed his world and moved on to others, preying on The Multiverse. Superman once described Batman as “The most dangerous man on Earth”, the Batman we know and love can take on someone as powerful as Superman, but he’s still holding back, there are lines he won’t cross. Now imagine someone with all of Bruce’s skills, abilities, and genius, completely devoid of any kind of morality, who is willing to cross any line to achieve his goals. That tactical mind, but with none of Bruce’s compassion and empathy. He would be the ultimate enemy. The apex predator of The Multiverse. Because a Batman who laughs… is a Batman who always wins.
Our Bruce Wayne first encountered The Batman Who Laughs during the crossover event Dark Nights: Metal. It took Batman teaming up with The Joker just to stand a chance in a fight against The Batman Who Laughs. His fate was left somewhat ambiguous at the end of Metal, until it was revealed in Justice League #8 that Lex Luthor had The Batman Who Laughs locked up below the Legion of Doom’s headquarters (Lex frees him at the end of the issue, now free to pursue his own agenda, this leads directly into the BATMAN WHO LAUGHS miniseries).
I read each issue of this series as they came out, now that it’s collected in this nice, hardcover graphic novel, I can’t recommend it enough. With art by Jock who worked with Snyder on the excellent Batman: The Black Mirror, this is a must read for Batman fans. I’d also say that this works very well as a standalone story. So if even you haven’t been following any of the other books I’ve mentioned in this article, you can pick up the graphic novel and still understand and enjoy the story. Not only is this an excellent Batman story, it’s also one of my favorite comics of the year. BATMAN WHO LAUGHS gets my highest recommendation. BATMAN WHO LAUGHS is now available at your local comic book store, Barnes & Noble, ComiXology, and wherever comics are sold. Check out this cool promo:
There are a lot of great comics hitting the stands this fall so I wanted to highlight some of the best books to look out for in my 2018 Fall Comic Book Preview! This’ll be a 2 or maybe 3-part series, with Part-1 focusing on DC COMICS and Part-2 focusing on MARVEL. Comic Books are an amazing storytelling medium and there are a lot of great jumping on points for new readers in the books featured here. So don’t be afraid to go to your local comic book store or ComiXology on your tablet to give these comics a try. You may be surprised how much you like what you’ll find. Without further ado, here are some of the DC COMICS to keep an eye out for…
Writer: Brian Azzarello Artist: Lee Bermejo Release Date: 9/19/18
This 3-issue miniseries is part of DC’S new Black Label, using their most talented writers and artists to tell exciting and edgy stories without necessarily worrying about continuity. You’re going to see DC’s Black Label pop up more than once in this article because some of the most interesting upcoming stories are being published under that label, so stay tuned.
Batman: Damned follows what happens after The Joker is killed and Batman himself may or may not have been the one to finally put an end to The Clown Prince of Crime. What follows is a story about Batman teaming up with John Constantine on a trip through the supernatural side of Gotham City.
This is definitely a book to be very excited about. The prospect of Batman finally just offing The Joker is interesting enough on it’s own, but throwing John Constantine into the mix and a trip into the supernatural corners of the DC Universe makes this even more fun.
The creative team of Azzarello and Bermejo have given us great stories like Lex Luthor: Man of Steel and Joker, which were both fantastic graphic novels. So make sure this at the top of your pull list when it hits shelves. THE BATMAN WHO LAUGHS
Writer: Scott Snyder
Release Date: November
The Batman Who Laughs was arguably the breakout character from the Dark Nights: Metal event miniseries. He was a version of Bruce Wayne from an Earth where he finally killed The Joker. But at the moment of his death, The Joker’s released a gas concocted specifically to turn the person that killed him into the next Joker. Not only did The Joker win by finally getting Bruce to cross his (very, very blurry) moral line of not killing him, but the gas essentially turned Bruce into The Joker.
A Batman retaining all his knowledge, skills, and intelligence, but mixed with The Joker’s lack of empathy, sick psychopathic behavior, and evil was a true nightmare. This essentially made The Batman Who Laughs the apex predator of the Dark Multiverse. As The Batman Who Laughs, he was the most dangerous being on his world and systematically killed everyone and everything on his world in the most twisted way imaginable.
By the end of Dark Nights: Metal, he was still in play and fans have been wondering when he’d rear his rictus grin again. This miniseries sees The Batman Who Laughs teaming up with another dark alternate reality Batman, who’s been described as Bruce’s second worst nightmare of what he could have become. This Batman got a hold of the gun the night his parents were killed and gunned down Joe Chill. He would grown up to become a gun toting, killing machine. Basically, Batman combined with The Punisher.
I feel I should point out that Scott Snyder has probably been my favorite comic book writer for quite awhile now. I haven’t enjoyed some of his newer work as mush as say, his Batman run. However, Snyder re-teaming with Jock on a Batman story will be something to behold. Their work on the modern classic Batman story The Black Mirror is one of the best Batman stories ever told. So, my excitement isn’t quite where it would normally be, but I’m still looking forward to this one. Not much else is known about this miniseries except that it will draw heavily from Snyder’s roots as a horror writer, with Snyder saying this book has some of the most twisted, terrifying stuff he’s ever written. With the characters involved and the creative team, it’s a must read when it comes out in November. I can’t wait to see what nightmares The Batman Who Laughs has in store for the DC Universe.
HEROES IN CRISIS
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Clay Mann
Release Date: 9/26/18
Tom King is fucking killing it lately. He first caught my attention with his incredible Vision miniseries over at Marvel. Now, King had the unenviable task of following Scott Snyder’s legendary Batman run when he took over the book with Batman Rebirth #1. But goddammit, King is giving Snyder a run for his money, where he’s crushing it on Batman right now.
This new story HEROES IN CRISIS is a apparently a very personal project for King. Superheroes and the people around them, have to deal with some very fucked up situations. Not dealing with mental health issues like PTSD or the death of a loved one can be unhealthy and dangerous. Much like real life soldiers coming home from war and having to deal with challenges of having seen horrible things and what that does to a person’s psyche. As a former member of the CIA, King knows all about the challenges our soldiers coming home after war have to endure. In the DC Universe, heroes like Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman have created a place where heroes and people in their community can get the help they need, in a facility called The Sanctuary.
The story revolves around some unexpected deaths and unexpected killers at The Sanctuary. CRISIS is a loaded word in DC Comics, but this seems more like Identity Crisis than Final Crisis. Little bread crumbs and references to The Sanctuary have popped up in several DC books over the past few months. A good example being the original Wally West being sent to The Sanctuary at the end of Flash War after the emotional roller coaster he goes on in that story. DC released these covers depicting iconic and traumatic moments in DC comics history. Supposedly incidents like this are the reason The Sanctuary was created. The idea is that The Sanctuary has been a part of the DCU for longer than readers have known, dealing with physical and psychological trauma these heroes has endured over the years.
I’m really curious to see what King does with this story and I like the idea of a DC event being more of a psychological thriller than a multiverse ending mega crossover.
JUSTICE LEAGUE/AQUAMAN: DROWNED EARTH
Writer: Scott Snyder/Dan Abnett/ James Tynion IV
Artist: Francis Manapul/Howard Porter/Fraser Erving/Jorge Medina
Release Date: 10/31/18
This story will run through both Justice League and Aquaman, picking up story threads from each book. This 5-Part story involves the origins of Atlantis and introducing a new pantheon of gods into the DC Universe. It sounds like this story will highlight big changes to the mythology of Aquaman. Similar to the huge changes we’ve seen play out with The Flash and Green Lantern in Justice League, with concepts like “The Still Force” and the “Ultraviolet Spectrum” being introduced. Since Scott Snyder came onto the book, Justice League has been excellent, so at least the JL chapters of the story stand to be pretty good.
The last time JL and Aquaman crossed over was in the “Throne of Atlantis” storyline and that was a great read. On the other hand, I don’t like crossovers where I’m required to pick up a series I don’t read (in this case, Aquaman) to follow the entire story. One the other hand I’m hearing some rumbling about some cool and interesting stories in Aquaman’s future, so this may be a good time to jump onto the book. So, this gets a cautiously optimistic thumbs up from me.
THE GREEN LANTERN
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Liam Sharp
Release Date: 11/7/18
Grant Morrison returning to write a monthly superhero book is something to be celebrated. His Green Lantern book will focus on Hal Jordan and really lean into the idea that the Green Lanterns are “space cops”. The book is supposed to have an almost police procedural feel to it. Hal is a cop working a beat, but his beat is the crazy alien worlds of deep space. Apparently Earth isn’t part of the story at all. This is solely Hal, doing Green Lantern, space cop work in the farthest reaches of the universe. With Grant Morrison writing and Liam Sharp drawing, that sounds fucking spectacular!
*(Keep an eye out for more updates!)
Thanks for reading and make sure to check out Part 2 where I’ll be looking at MARVEL’s big comics coming out this fall!