Just when we thought the Batman Who Laughs — that alternate reality hybrid of Batman and the Joker — had finally been put away for good, he’s got another plan for world domination. And this week we got to see what it looks like when one of the biggest and brightest DC superheroes corrupted by his influence.
But not for the reason you might think.
[Ed. note: This piece contains spoilers for Batman/Superman #2.]
This is all playing out in DC’s new Batman/Superman series, from Joshua Williamson and David Marquez, a traditional team up title for, you guessed it, Batman and Superman.
Last we saw, BWL got his butt roundly kicked by Batman in his very own eponymous miniseries, The Batman Who Laughs. This time around, BWL seems to be going by the maxim “First Gotham City, and then the world — but if taking over Gotham City in The Batman Who Laughs doesn’t work, then just go for the world anyway.”
So, even from his incredibly high-tech prison, the BWL has been able to kick off his plan to corrupt six heroes in the main DC Universe with specially crafted batarangs coated in a neurotoxin that destroys the victim’s moral compass. It’s the same neurotoxin that created the Batman Who Laughs in his home dimension.
The final pages of Batman/Superman #1 reveal that one superhero has already been corrupted: Shazam, one of the only DC superheroes who can take a punch from Superman and give that punch right back.
In this week’s Batman/Superman #2, we saw the ensuing Batman and Superman vs. Shazam fight, with our uncorrupted heroes just managing to escape with their lives. They can’t mobilize the Justice League — because if the BWL already got to Billy Batson, he could have gotten to any of their other allies as well. But if the BWL is expecting Shazam to have corrupted Superman, maybe the two heroes can have a man on the inside after all.
Meet the Superman Who Laughs, aka, Superman going undercover as an ally of the Batman Who Laughs.
But are Batman and Superman just playing further into the BWL’s mind games? After all, he’s functionally the same person as Batman, with the same instincts. Well, since this was the final page cliffhanger of Batman/Superman #2, we’ll have to wait until next issue to find out.