Now I know it's not October anymore and the season of spooks has officially ended, but c'mon—we're in Gotham, so things are always going to be just a little dark, right? I mean, think about BATMAN #62 and Professor Pyg, or the horrible nightmare creature currently stalking Bruce around the world over in DETECTIVE COMICS #996. The seasons may be changing here in the real world, but over in the DC Universe, the Bat-Family is truly experiencing a very, very long Halloween (...get it? Get it?).
So, with that in mind, this month's Gotham Gazette is going to focus on some of the more horrific parts of the Bat-Family, and how all those nightmares are getting stirred up all over the place. Brace yourself—there will be some spoilers ahead!
This month saw the release of THE BATMAN WHO LAUGHS #2, which as you could probably guess by the title, is easily the most chilling of the bunch for a myriad of reasons. If you're behind on the series, you won't need to go back too far to pick up this particular story, but I will recommend grabbing DARK NIGHTS: METAL if you're totally unfamiliar with just who (and what) the Batman Who Laughs is. Long story short, he's one of the alternate reality Bruce Waynes that came pouring out of the Dark Multiverse from a timeline where Bruce actually killed the Joker, and then became the Joker.
It's a little complicated, but I promise it's not so bad, and if reading a whole event is a bit too daunting for you right now, you can definitely grab THE BATMAN WHO LAUGHS #1 and just start there. No harm done.
Anyway, this story is reuniting two of Gotham's very own: Scott Snyder and artist Jock as they dive deep into the Batman Who Laughs’ bloody crusade to murder as many alternate reality Bruce Waynes as he can…and he's not alone. He's got help from yet another alternate Batman, called “the Grim Knight,” who is essentially Batman without the "no killing" moral code (as we learn in issue #2, he’s the version of Bruce Wayne who watched his parents get shot in Crime Alley, and then picked up the discarded gun). This guy is a flat out, stone cold murderer—and he's still Batman—which makes him one of the deadliest forces in the multiverse. As you can probably imagine, his partnership with the Batman Who Laughs spells all kinds of trouble.
I'll let you actually read the issue to see just what this sinister pair are planning (and how far Bruce is willing to go to stop them), but I will say, that a very, very unlikely character makes a surprise return, and without giving too much away, they have some serious roots in Jock and Snyder's shared Gotham history, all the way back to the first Batman story they did together: BATMAN: THE BLACK MIRROR.
Now, if you haven't picked up Black Mirror, you'll want to get on that right away. Not only is it the start of a major era of Batman history, it's also one of the most chilling and terrifying explorations of Gotham as a character rather than just a city. It's from the pre-New 52 era and deals with Dick Grayson wearing the cowl, diving deep into the absolute worst his home has to offer. I can't recommend it enough, especially now with this month's not-so-subtle focus on horror.
Meanwhile, over in Detective Comics, even more nightmares from the Dark Knight’s history are cropping up, but these seem to be targeting the people who helped make Bruce Batman. It's a blast from the past in a totally different way as Bruce is forced to go globetrotting to retrace his steps from the time he spent training to become Batman. You know, the stuff explored in classics like BATMAN: YEAR ONE—you don't need me to recommend that to you, right?
We're counting down to DETECTIVE COMICS #1000—just two months away!—so you'll absolutely want to keep a close eye on this story as it progresses. It may be pulling apart Bruce's history, but it's also comics history in the making.
Finally, outside of the city limits, Jason Todd is still on his soul-searching, new-identity-establishing mission in RED HOOD: OUTLAW #30 and coming face to face with some nasty ghosts of his own—namely one very specific deep cut going all the way back to the days of BATMAN, INC who goes by the name of Wingman. If you’re not familiar with it, Wingman was a very short-lived alter ego that Jason used while helping Bruce out on that specific endeavor. But if Jason is Red Hood now, then what's the deal with Wingman…and what does it have to do with yet another familiar face from the days of the New 52 Teen Titans who you may or may not remember? (Bunker? Anyone? He hasn't been around in a while but he's very cool, I promise.) Oh, and also, Jason gets a dog! Seriously, what's not to love?
Speaking of love, next month is Valentine’s month. Think we’ll see less horror and more hearts around Gotham City? Somehow, I doubt it, but I’ll see you in a few weeks and we’ll discuss it!
Want more on THE BATMAN WHO LAUGHS? Each month, comics and horror fan Rosie Knight breaks down the latest issue, discussing the important events and what they mean for Bruce and Gotham. Read her latest column here.
Meg Downey covers movies, TV and comics for DCComics.com, and writes about Batman each month in her column, "Gotham Gazette." She's also a regular contributor to the Couch Club, our weekly television column. Follow her on Twitter at @rustypolished.