Wednesday, May 8, 2019

The Batman Who Laughs #5 Review

The Plan All Along

Writer: Scott Snyder
Art Team: Jock, David Baron, Sal Cipriano
Release Date: May 8, 2019
Cover Price: $4.99

The Batman Who Laughs is back this month, with the series now having been extended to seven issues, dragging the fun out hope for a bit longer.  Last we left our 'real' Batman he was cornered by a bunch of cops, being mistaken for the Batman Who Laughs, and starring down the barrel of a few guns, all while the actual Batman Who Laugh looks on. So let's discuss where Scott Snyder, Jock, and David Baron take us this issue, after an issue full of pretty good reveals, and that shocking cliffhanger.

Our issue begins directly from last months cliffhanger, as we see Batman struggle to convince the officers he's the real deal while wearing the spiked eye mask.  The officers start firing as Batman cowers under his cape, forcing the team on duty to get armor-piercing shells, while Batman forces his way thru the barrier formerly separating him and Batman Who Laughs (BWL).  Eventually, Batman uses his inside info on the officers, to threaten them into leaving him alone, by convincing them he actually is the Batman Who Laughs. It's something that will come off pretty confusing if you are jumping in fresh here, but I feel is handled pretty well if you've been following the story along. However, the length of these scenes lingers a bit long, feeling a little repetitive, which is a bit of a theme with this issue.

From there we drift off to Jim Gordon, where we learn that the Grim Knight's Crows are actually versions of James Gordon Jr, instead of former Robin's as the BWL's were.  It's a nice twist to the expected, with the explanation and monologue by the Grim Knight allowing Jim Gordon to get away for a moment, albeit with the Crows in chase. Thankfully for Jim the 'real' James comes to his rescue. It's awesome to see him finally contribute to the story at large, instead of being dragged around from place to place, with his mild amnesia. This might have been my favorite scene in the issue, mostly because James Gordon Jr finally feels integral to the story at hand, instead of lingering in the background mostly helpless. 

We revisit the BWL's at this point to see where he wandered off to, after trapping Batman, only to discover he has stumbled into the lair of the Court of Owls, with what can only be described as sinister intentions.  The Court thinking they have BWL's right where they want him, quickly have the tables turned on them, just as Batman himself has many times dealing with this villain. BWL's brings a dark multi-verse Bruce Wayne into the equation that heads the Court of Owls himself in his dark universe. There is one minor issue with the Batman Who Laughs throughout all his appearances thus far, which is just that he knows all, and simply, for the most part, can never be defeated. Even an entire organization like the Court of Owls are helpless against him. Sometimes I feel like I'm reading about the New England Patriots when he pops into the story and we all know how much I hate the Patriots.

The issue begins its conclusion as the Gordon's and Batman reunite in the cave.  Now free and together, they decide the only course of action is to enable the Last Laugh protocol before its too late, in order to prevent any of this mayhem from escaping Gotham. However, as is the case throughout this series this all appears to have been apart of the Grim Knight's and BWL's plan all along. With the current state of Batman turning more and more into his counterpart as the issue moves along, he is eventually offered 'the Truth' as to what Gotham really is. The reveal closes the issue on an interesting note as we're left wondering does Batman see things through the eyes of his family or the BWL's point of view at this point ... as we all fear which side he currently learns towards.

The art by Jock with colors by David Baron set the tone for the this title and really add to the madness in the story.  Admittedly there are some small transition issues, mostly when people pop in and out from other dimensions, its like they can appear out of nowhere, confusing the reader as where they came from. However by this point in the series I've picked up on what's going on, chalked it up to a stylistic choice, and it hasn't bothered me as much as it first did. Other than that minor nitpick Jock really works well with the story Snyder is telling here and seems to be a perfect fit for the theme of this title. The letters of Sal Cipriano also stand out throughout the issue, giving the context clues for the people transporting in and out, while alternating Batman's lettering, showing the madness in his dialogue as the issue progresses.

Bits and Pieces:

Overall, Snyder and Jock craft another gripping issue of the Batman Who Laughs, however, one that I found to be possibly my least favorite of the mini-series so far, mostly due to some of the scenes repetitive nature, and tendency to linger a bit too long. Although the story is structurally sound this issue, I found it lacked that a big wow moment, like last issues real Joker and Batman conversation, which when the heroes are down and out can get your hopes back up a bit. Hopefully, DC asking Snyder to extend the series, most likely due to such high sales, won't slow the pacing down that I was previously enjoying so much.


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