Batman: The Man Who Laughs
Although the one shot prestige format comic book Batman: The Man Who Laughs was only released in February 2005, it can essentially be considered to be one of the first Batman stories, in terms of continuity. As the title might suggest, the story is about one of Batman’s greatest enemies, if not his true nemesis, the Joker. James Gordon is still captain, and the beginning of the book ties into the ending of Batman and the Mad Monk, in which Gordon discovers a warehouse full of corpses.
Gotham City is plagued by a new villain, who kills his victims with a poison that turns their skin white and puts a smile on their face, before they laugh themselves to death. The police force dubs him the Joker. Happy with his new name, he goes on to threaten wealthy members of society, while wreaking chaos on the city, by releasing some of the most dangerous and criminally insane killers onto the streets. In an attempt to save those sentenced to death by the Joker, Gordon and Batman are teamed up in a race against the clock. While the story develops we slowly learn where the Joker came from and what his motives are.
Writer Ed Brubaker manages to gather the essence of what makes the Joker tick and gives us a perfectly insane character description, combined with a nice background story. I especially liked the duality in the voice-overs by Gordon and Batman, showing the reader that these two men are actually not that different from each other, and why their partnership works so well. Not a lot has to be said about Doug Mahnke’s art, as it is in my opinion superb. He draws the Joker just the way he has to be, creepy and funny at once. This book is a must-read for every Joker and Batman fan alike.
“Sometimes I kill me, especially when I think about killing you” – The Joker
Reread Value 7
Overall Rating 8.5/10