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Review – The Batman Who Laughs: The Grim Knight #1 (DC Comics)

The Batman Who Laughs: The Grim Knight #1
Overall
7.8/10
7.8/10
  • Writing - 7.5/10
    7.5/10
  • Art - 8/10
    8/10
  • Overall - 7.8/10
    7.8/10
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Summary

Writers: Scott Snyder & James Tynion IV
Artist: Eduardo Risso
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Letterer: Sal Cipriano
Cover Artist: Jock
Variant Cover Artist: Gabrielle Dell’Otto
Editor: Katie Kubert
Assistant Editor: Dave Wielgosz
Group Editor: James S. Rich
Publisher: DC Comics
Maturity Rating: Teen+
Release Date: March 13, 2019

Scott Snyder and James Tynion take Batman readers through the looking glass, playing with the metaphysical fabric of Batman’s beginning. Allies will become enemies as readers explore the origin of the most dangerous Batman in the multiverse: the Grim Knight!

Black Mirror Origins in The Grim Knight #1

Over the years several writers have attempted to take Batman through the looking glass; arguably no one more ambitiously so than Scott Snyder. In The Batman Who Laughs: The Grim Knight #1, he’s doing just that. Playing the proverbial “what if” game with the fabric of Batman’s origins, leading readers down yet another dark rabbit hole in the DC multiverse. It’s a subtle twist on a familiar event, with staggering implications: what if Bruce Wayne shot and killed Joe Chill?

Writing

The Batman Who Laughs: The Grim Knight #1 (DCComics) main cover by Jock
The Batman Who Laughs: The Grim Knight #1 (DCComics) main cover by Jock

Admittedly, this reads like Snyder doing the framework and Tynion picking up the bulk of the actual scripting. It lacks the allegorical style that fans of Snyder’s are no doubt accustomed to, yet Tynion‘s ability to weave a truly complex and exciting detective story quickly extinguishes any waning doubts readers may have. The Detective Comics mainstay has become a Batman heavyweight in his own right; worthy as any to wear the cowl. 

One odd thing about The Batman Who Laughs: The Grim Knight #1 is that it lacks the feel of previous METAL one-shots; had it simply been titled The Batman Who Laughs #4, I doubt anyone would have noticed anything out of joint. The true origins surrounding the Grim Knight at times felt rushed, glossed over by clever allusions to Frank Miller‘s groundbreaking Batman: Year One. The Grim Knight is an unbelievably bad-ass character; I was just hoping we’d see more of him.

Art

For this one-shot, regular series artist Jock takes a step back and gives the reigns to Eduardo Risso. This is something that I wish more series would start incorporating on a regular basis: guest artists. A different perspective or interpretation can breathe life into a series. And while it’s debatable that Jock has no artistic equal—Eduardo Risso does a pretty darn good job, particularly in his homage panels to Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One. The “tree kick”, the “deaths of Thomas and Martha Wayne”, the “dinner party”—it’s all there. Risso is playing off of the reader’s familiarity with Frank Miller’s Batman origin story to emphasize how similar the Grim Knight is to our beloved Dark Knight. If you’re reading this review having not read Miller’s seminal masterpiece, go to your nearest book store. Immediately. 

Lastly, Dave Stewart is an absolute genius; he colors my world. I wish I could buy glasses that would allow me to see the spectrum in which he views the universe because that would be truly mesmerizing to behold.

Conclusion

I feel like Natalia Imbruglia—I’m torn. On the one hand, there were so many great moments and elements throughout The Batman Who Laughs: The Grim Knight #1; my biggest critique is simply that there just wasn’t enough. The issue stood in one place when there was limitless potential to be much more far-reaching and exploratory. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t great. I know that’s such a reductionist statement on what honestly was a great comic book; I suppose my expectations were just a tad too high.  


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Jordan Claes

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