SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for The Batman Who Laughs #5 by Scott Snyder, Jock, David Baron and Sal Cipriano, on sale now.
The Batman Who Laughs is only one of several evil versions of Batman to come from the Dark Multiverse. But as has been shown many times throughout the hero's career, the Caped Crusader doesn't have to be evil to be dark. Frank Miller and Jim Lee's infamous All-Star Batman and Robin, The Boy Wonder series was one of those examples, and while that almost psychotic incarnation of Batman arguably wasn't evil per se, he at least was supposed to be one of the good guys.
In Scott Snyder and Jock's The Batman Who Laughs #5, the most iconic line from Miller and Lee's series is put to good use -- and it doesn't come from the character readers might expect.
He's the What?!
Batman had tracked the Batman Who Laughs to Blackgate Prison last issue. Before encountering him, though, Batman found someone else entirely: another alternate Bruce Wayne, warden of his world's version of Blackgate. This version of Bruce fared no better than the others who have shown up on this world, though, as he was violently killed by The Batman Who Laughs upon the villain's arrival. He didn't leave Batman in the best of situations either, when disguised as a Blackgate guard, he ordered the other guards to open fire on Batman – who mistakenly believe he is the Batman Who Laughs.
As this issue opens, Batman attempts, but fails, to convince the guards that he's the true Batman. Since The Dark Knight's physical appearance is transforming into something not unlike his evil counterpart, his pleas go unheeded. His increasingly sinister behavior also makes it a tough sell to the guards.
That behavior, though, is what actually allows him to escape.
All-Star Batman's Got Nothing on This One
Pinned down by gunfire, Batman uses his slain doppelganger's body as a macabre shield to buy himself time to devise an escape. As if that weren't twisted enough, Batman severs the head of his dead counterpart as he reveals details about the guards' personal lives. As the gunfire pauses, Batman holds his mutilated lookalike's head above his own, threatens to come after them if he's not allowed to leave, and shouts a variation of that very familiar quote: "I'm the #$%^&*$ Batman Who Laughs!"
Unsurprisingly, the shell-shocked guards allow him to pass.
The original line, as first uttered by Batman to a young and freshly-orphaned Dick Grayson in All-Star Batman and Robin, The Boy Wonder #2, was "I'm the goddamn Batman." That quote cemented what many had already thought of Miller's take on Batman in this series -- if he was still a hero, he was most definitely a psychotic one.
That's Just Wrong
Batman here isn't in much better shape. He took a face full of Joker toxin in The Batman Who Laughs #1, and has slowly been succumbing to its effects. He's willingly embraced not only donning his own version of the Batman Who Laughs' trademark spiked visor, but adopts his foe's name, if only as an escape tactic.
As crazy as All-Star Batman might have been, though, at least he didn't pretend to be one of his own foes and brandish any severed heads within the course of that series. All-Star Batman might have originated that now-classic line, but this version of Batman has made it his own, and it fits pretty good.
The Batman Who Swears
This isn't the first time a connection could be inferred between All-Star Batman and Robin and the Dark Multiverse. One of Dark Nights: Metal's tie-ins, Batman: The Red Death, showed a Batman, and a world, that was remarkably similar to the one created by Miller and Lee. While never directly acknowledged, Metal provided a potential canonical home for a series that was so widely criticized. Some felt that All-Star Batman and Robin never should have been, and the Dark Multiverse, well, is full of such stories.
The Batman is a hero. But the goddamn Batman very much seems to be one that feels the pull of the Dark Multiverse.
That pull increases in The Batman Who Laughs #6, on sale June 12.