The Batman Who Laughs has been a surprisingly good story. This was a title that I did not feel that it needed to be published. And the Batman who Laughs himself is a character that I just do not find as interesting as most other readers. However, Snyder has stunned me and taken a character that I was neutral about and created an incredibly well crafted and compelling story.
The Batman Who Laughs – The Grim Knight #1 is a one-shot issue designed to give a bit of explanation to the Grim Knight character. Now, the Grim Knight is a character that I find far more interesting than the Batman Who Laughs. So, I am excited to learn more about this character. Let’s go ahead and hit this review.
Words: Scott Snyder & James Tynion IV
Art: Eduardo Risso
Colors: Dave Stewart
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: This issue centers on the Grim Knight. The Grim Knight has captured Jim Gordon. The Grim Knight We learn that on his Earth after his parents got killed that he picked up Joe Chill’s gun and immediately kills him. The Grim Knight then perfects his body to become the ultimate warrior and uses every type of weapon at his disposal.
On his Earth, Jim Gordon is Batman’s nemesis since Jim does not believe in Batman’s Punisher style approach to crime. Batman is able to rid Gotham of most of its criminals. Batman creates a satellite system that can scan Gotham for criminal activity and immediately kill the criminal before they can commit their crime.
Gordon goes into hiding while the Grim Knight rules Gotham with an iron fist. Gordon conducts lots of investigation while in hiding and discovers that Batman is Bruce Wayne. Gordon comes out of hiding and hooks up with the FBI in order to take down the Grim Knight.
Gordon along with an army of FBI agents and Gotham police officers surround Wayne Manor. Bruce Wayne steps out and confronts Gordon. They get into a fist fight and Jim takes out Bruce and places him under arrest.
The issue ends back in the present day with the Grim Knight about to kill our Jim Gordon. The Batman Who Laughs then enters and stops the Grim Knight. The Batman Who Laughs says that the Grim Knight was trying to show Gordon mercy. That what the Batman Who Laughs has in store for Gordon in much worse. End of issue.
The Good: The Batman Who Laughs – The Grim Knight #1 was a surprisingly good read. There is no doubt that Snyder and Tynion are talented writers. But, this issue just seemed like that type of pointless one-shot filler issue attached to a larger event that usually is nothing more than a basic cash grab. I was completely wrong. This issue was far better than I expected.
Snyder and Tynion deliver a technically well crafted issue. This is a tightly plotted and paced story. The writers move this story forward with a clear purpose in mind. The story has a pleasant blend of dialogue heavy scenes and action scenes. The flow of the story was well done as the scene transitions were logical and seamless. The story’s pacing was spot on as the writers step on the gas and ease off at just the right moments.
Each scene builds off of each other in a logical fashion as the story builds in intensity and delivers an intense climax. The writers bring the reader down from the dramatic moment of Gordon arresting Bruce Wayne and perfectly set up the transition into The Batman Who Laughs #4.
I love that The Batman Who Laughs – The Grim Knight #1 is a perfectly enclosed one-shot issue that delivers a satisfying stand alone story. I appreciate that Snyder and Tynion made it so that the reader does not have to purchase The Batman Who Laughs – The Grim Knight #1 at all in order to understand the story over in the Batman Who Laughs. This way the reader does not feel obligated to purchase this issue.
I hate it when readers are forced to buy ancillary one-shot issues in order to fully understand the story occurring on the main title. Snyder and Tynion construct The Batman Who Laughs – The Grim Knight #1 as a fun and enjoyable issue for readers who desire a bit more detail and content into the Grim Knight character compared to what we are getting in the main story in The Batman Who Laughs.
Snyder and Tynion deliver excellent dialogue and character work. I love the Grim Knight’s character. I find him far superior to The Batman Who Laughs in nearly every possible way. I find the Grim Knight to be so compelling and engrossing. To me, the Grim Knight is far more of a twisted version of the Batman than The Batman Who Laughs.
The Grim Knight is more of a repudiation and complete rejection of Batman’s core beliefs. This is what makes him such a fascinating character. The reader is initially put off by the Grim Knights’ complete rejection of Batman’s core beliefs. But, as the story continues, the reader begins to see how The Grim Knight’s rejection of Batman’s core beliefs makes him much more highly effective at fighting crime.
The fact that the Grim Knight’s Gotham lacked any colorful criminals like the Joker and the Riddler was pure brilliance. This underscores the theory that Batman actually creates more danger and crime for Gotham than he prevents. This plays into the debate that Batman’s existence and his refusal to kill criminals actually creates the horrific super-villains who plague Gotham. It is a compelling debate that helps make the reader feel conflicted in their view of the Grim Knight’s character.
I also liked the logical conclusion of the Grim Knight’s character of him building a satellite system capable of detecting crime before it happens and immediately killing the criminal. This is the logical endgame for the Grim Knight’s character. I also love the duality of the Grim Knight’s satellite system. On one hand, this satellite system runs counter to Batman’s core beliefs in how to deal with criminals. Yet, on the other hand, the satellite system is highly consistent with Batman’s core personality trait of being a control freak and building elaborate satellite systems and computers designed to protect Gotham or to deal with rogue super-heroes.
The Bad: The only glaring weakness in the writing would be the moment where Jim Gordon beats the Grim Knight in a fist fight and places him under arrest. Snyder and Tynion make a point of emphasizing that the Grim Knight spend his entire childhood and adulthood in training every form of physical combat possible. That the Grim Knight travelled the world to learn from every assassin and solider of fortune he could find. And yet the Grim Knight was taken down in a fist fight by a middle-aged cop who is much smaller, older, and far less trained? That makes absolutely zero sense. This is an emotional climax of the issue and yet the ridiculousness of the fight’s outcome pulls the reader out of the story at the absolute worst time. It simply lacks internal logic.
I am not a huge fan of Eduardo Risso’s artwork in this issue. Risso’s art has a schizophrenic and inconsistent look from page to page. Having said that, there are still some individual panels that do look fantastic.
Overall: The Batman Who Laughs – The Grim Knight #1 was an excellent read. Snyder and Tynion deliver a fun stand-alone issue that does a great job of providing more detail and texture to the main story on The Batman Who Laughs. If you have been enjoying The Batman Who Laughs and find the Grim Knight an interesting character then you definitely need to pick up this issue.
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