With its second installment out today, DC Comics’ Dark Nights: Metal has finally introduced the world to the Batman Who Laughs, a nightmare vision of what Batman might be like if he adopted the qualities of his worst enemy, the Joker.
We got a sneak peek at the character — whose name itself is a reference to the 1928 film The Man Who Laughs, which served as an inspiration for the Joker — just a few weeks ago, but today marks his first appearance in Batman: Metal #2 and Teen Titans #12.
But who is the Batman Who Laughs? Why, he’s the leader of seven Nightmare Batman who are invading earth from the Dark Multiverse, as part of a millennia-long, secret, evil plan to pave the way for the dark god Barbatos — Bar-BAT-os, get it? — to enter our world.
If you’re thinking “That sounds absolutely coo-coo-bananas,” don’t worry. Dark Nights: Metal is the rare comic book crossover event that isn’t taking itself too seriously. In fact, just about the only thing Scott Snyder, the writer and mastermind behind the storyline, and his collaborators seem to be doing in earnest is pushing every aspect of the comic up to 11.
[Warning: Minor spoilers for Batman: Metal #2 and Teen Titans #12 follow.]
Which brings us right back around to how the Batman Who Laughs was introduced in Batman: Metal #2 today. His four Robins clawed their way through the portal first. (Did we mention that he keeps four demonic-looking Robins on chain leashes about him at all times?)
Upon arriving in our plane, the Robins bodily devoured the group of priests and acolytes who had opened the portal in the first place, chanting the word “crow” over and over even as entrails dripped from their mouths.
And while Batman: Metal #2 ended shortly after the arrival of Barbatos and the Nightmare Batmen, Teen Titans #12 kicked off the “Gotham Resistance” tie-in crossover. Gotham Resistance follows the Teen Titans (lead by Bruce Wayne’s son, Damian, the current Robin), Nightwing, Green Arrow and even a few members of the Suicide Squad as they team up to defend Gotham City from the onslaught of the Batman Who Laughs.
We won’t know what happens with the main storyline of Dark Nights: Metal until next month, when Batman: Metal #3 hits stands. But it appears in the meantime that the Batman Who Laughs has visited Arkham Asylum and given playing cards to five of Batman’s greatest foes. The cards, which are made of the reality warping cosmic metals that Dark Nights: Metal derives its name from, endow those villains with their own reality warping powers — turning Gotham City into a laws-of-physics defying labyrinth of madness with Barbatos’ grand plans at the center.
And to stop the assembled group of heroes, the Batman Who Laughs appears to have summoned another dark ally — the Damian Wayne of his universe — to keep them from getting any closer. The next installment of Gotham Resistance will be found in Nightwing #29, hitting shelves next week on Sept. 20.