Batman and James Gordon turn to James Gordon Jr. in the hopes of finding a way to stop the Batman Who Laughs from destroying Gotham.
The Batman Who Laughs No. 3
Writer: Scott Snyder
The Batman Who Laughs No. 3 cover (Credit: DC Comics)
At the end of the second installment of The Batman Who Laughs, Batman and James Gordon’s desperation had led them to seek out an unlikely ally – Gordon’s psychopathic son, James Gordon Jr. Junior now works in a department store, his every move monitored by an ankle bracelet. He is also undergoing a therapeutic recovery program that he insists is working.
Except, that’s not what Batman needs from Junior. He needs the boy’s obsessive knowledge of Gotham’s underground networks and his killer tendencies to help suss out what the Batman Who Laughs is up to. Has the program done its job and purged Junior’s darkness, or is there an ounce of his old self left to help save Gotham City?
With Batman being infected with Joker Venom, time is running out as the Grim Knight is on his tail, and the Batman Who Laughs is closing in on unleashing his toxins into the watermains of the city. Whatever you’re expecting from this series, you will not see the denouement of The Batman Who Laughs No. 3 coming.
The third issue of the series was slower paced than its predecessors, it also focuses mainly on the Gordons’ and Batman’s interaction. However, much of this installment felt like it was running in place – the dialogue seemed to be covering the same topic over and over again without moving either story or plot forward. The end result being that The Batman Who Laughs No. 3 felt less substantial.
The stakes are high for Batman, but we don’t get that sense of urgency from the meandering dialogue. What’s missing in The Batman Who Laughs No. 3 is that emotional core that Scott Snyder molded into the previous two issues of the series. He really got to the heart of what made Batman tick, but here it felt like many of the pages were fillers to reach a predetermined page limit.
James Gordon, James Gordon Jr. and Batman in The Batman Who Laughs No. 3 (Credit: DC Comics)
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One wishes the Grim Knight had entered the fray earlier, as he is an arresting character, and an issue like this would have been perfect to introduce elements of his backstory. There’s also precious little of the Batman Who Laughs, but when he’s on page, he enlivens the whole book. His interaction with a classic Batman nemesis is terrifying and a much-needed burst of energy.
There is so much riding on Batman beating the odds and defeating his nemesis, but now that he has the Joker Venom coursing through him, with each passing issue of The Batman Who Laughs, he moves further away from the hero he is to becoming the monster who is central to this story. That being said, Batman’s actions during the final act of this installment aren’t easily decipherable. Why has he made this move? Is it even Bruce Wayne any more making these decisions? We will eventually find out.
Though this issue felt like a dip in the tension the series has built up so far, the climactic final scenes set up a promising return to form in the rest of the comics. It’s hard to see how the protagonists are going to come back from the situations they are in, but without a doubt, Snyder has a plan to keep readers coming back for more.