It has been a long road with the Dark Nights: Metal tie-ins. Since the end of September, readers have dove into the dark multiverse learning more and more about the evil Batmen threatening our heroes. We have watched each Dark Knights’ origins and motives to become what they are. It’s been a fantastic and often twisted ride as we watch them reign.
There is only one evil Batman left to learn about. The Dark Knight with a twisted grin and a sick sense of humor. The one who will be the face of the Dark Nights: Metal Saga for years to come. I am of course referring to The Batman Who Laughs. This terrifying Batman has led his multiversal counterparts on a crusade against the heroes of Earth and his origin might be the most terrifying of all.
**SOME SPOILERS BELOW**
The Batman Who Laughs comes from Earth -22, where the Joker has no restraint on his anarchy. The Joker finds out that he is dying, so he spent the last of his days trying to burn Gotham to the ground. Batman is captured and forced to watch as Joker uses his toxin to create several children that look just like him. When Batman had enough, he broke free and killed the Joker. As he died, a powerful gas, similar to Joker toxin, leaks out of the Clown Prince of Crime and infects Batman. Over time, this toxin turns Batman into the leader of the Dark Knights we have known since the beginning of Metal.
While this dark origin is a lot more plausible than the others, it is by far the most interesting. Unlike the other Batmen, we watch the degeneration of this one take place. He murders the Joker, then we watch as he prepares for his end by training his sidekicks. You can tell that this version of Bruce is desperate, as he trains his sidekicks to save Gotham from himself. Sadly, the training falls just short, with Batman becoming a monster. A Joker with all the skills and technology of Batman. You feel empathy, but then can’t help but be amazed by the completed transformation.
The story is framed by the Batman Who Laughs talking to a bandaged prisoner, explaining his origin and master plan. I will not spoil it here, but the master plan raises the urgency to defeat the Dark Invaders.
This tie-in’s art encapsulates what makes the Dark Knights. It’s clear that the artist’s goal is to make each panel as disturbing as possible. It’s something that you would see in a horror movie, which fits the theme that Dark Nights: Metal has strode for. The pencil work of Riley Rossmo helped by giving off the nightmare feel through the designs of suffering Justice League members and humans. The color also helped the nightmarish feeling with its faded color style. It looks hazy and almost dreamlike, yet is still colored dark enough to keep the story on track in terms of tone.
This might actually be my favorite of the Dark Knights tie-ins. We get a dark story more twisted yet entertaining than the rest. The art helps to sell the nightmare world that the Batman Who Laughs comes from. The reveal of the master plan might also be the biggest game-changer in this whole series. I highly recommend picking this up and let the monsters run wild.