Just when you thought that every possible Batman protagonist or antagonist had been thought of, suddenly we get The Batman Who Laughs, who is among the craziest and most dangerous villains of DC Comics. It sounds like the title of a graphic novel, or story arc. But it is actually the name of Batman from Earth-22, which you can think of as another dimension. The regular, typical Batman we know and love is from Earth-0, the primary “Earth”. Let’s explore what makes this character so dangerous, and where he came from.
Allegedly, his first appearance was in Dark Days: The Casting, but that’s misleading, since we only get a momentary glimpse of him without any explanation. It isn’t until the comic The Batman Who Laughs, issue 1 do we get to find out who he actually is. That is because Batman (from Earth-0, where this story takes place, I believe) explains everything to Commissioner Gordon about this villain using a lot of word bubbles.
Batman explains to Gordon that The Batman Who Laughs comes from a realm where all hopes and fears exist in material form, and since Batman had moments where he thought about Killing The Joker, that’s exactly what this alternate-realm version attempts in his reality and this comic story. He breaks in Arkham Asylum with the help of “The Grim Knight”, a version of Batman who used guns. Apparently, Joker’s heart contains a super-toxin that releases when he dies. This makes the person who kills him become the next Joker. So when he killed Joker in his own dimension, he became this sort of Batman and Joker hybrid who killed world after world in his dimension.
At the end of the issue, Batman decides that he needs Joker’s help. The Joker decides to help Batman by killing himself in front of him, causing the super-toxin in his heart to turn him into the same monster as The Batman Who Laughs. In issue 2, Alfred tries to save Joker’s life while Batman tries his best to use every Joker toxin antidote he has.
So what does this villain look like? He’s leaner than Batman typically is, and is weaker. He has a sort of visor over his eyes, which looks metal and has spikes coming out in different directions. Furthermore, he has the wide smile from being a victim of Joker’s toxin. Because he is technically a variation of Batman, he has his intelligence combined with Joker’s lack of morals and unpredictable actions. So there you have it, yet another variation of Batman. I think the next version should be a hybrid of him and Mary Poppins. At least then he could fly with the help of an umbrella, and can easily swallow any medicine, as long as it has a spoonful of sugar to go along with it. Be the best you can be, and get the hardcover collection (Affiliate Link), that covers all seven issues of The Batman Who Laughs.