SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for The Batman Who Laughs #4 by Scott Snyder, Jock, David Baron and Sal Cipriano, on sale now.
The Batman Who Laughs immediately made an impression on readers with the character's first appearance in Dark Days: The Casting #1. In fact, it was his actual appearance that made the biggest impression of all. The now iconic spiked visor worn by this Jokerized Batman from the Dark Multiverse immediately defined his look, but its purpose has remained unclear -- until now.
Readers have perhaps wondered if the adornment is a strange accessory. Or maybe a Statue of Liberty costume's crown pulled down over his eyes. In Scott Snyder and Jock's The Batman Who Laughs #4, the mystery is revealed. The visor isn't just for show. It gives The Batman Who Laughs not only the means to still see his immediate surroundings, but only enhances a newly revealed power.
So That's What It Does
It's actually Bruce Wayne who discovers this -- that is, "our" Bruce Wayne, not his twisted doppelganger from Earth-22. This world's Bruce is slowly succumbing to his previous exposure to the Joker's toxin while trying to find the means to defeat his alternate self. After forging his own version of The Batman Who Laughs' visor in order to combat him, Bruce shares his knowledge of the device with an understandably concerned Alfred.
Bruce reveals that The Batman Who Laughs' eyes have special properties that allow him to peer into the Dark Multiverse. With this ability, he can see the dark potential of those around him. The visor, constructed from Dark Metal, allows him to essentially focus and fine-tune those visions.
Since Batman's own exposure to the same toxin eventually ushered in the creation of The Batman Who Laughs, our Bruce physically appears to be taking on the same characteristics. His eyes, most notably, have taken on a reddish hue that hint he is gaining the same kind of visual insight as his foe. Bruce has forged his copy of the visor with the same material as his doppelganger's, with hopes of taking him down using his own methods against him.
Bruce has largely built these hopes on the notion that he can retain his heroic nature despite his transformation and seeming descent into evil. His confrontation with Alfred shows that he's still hanging on, but can he prevent himself from succumbing to the Joker's poison, or will he simply become this multiverse's equivalent of his foe?
Will It Work For The Batman Who Doesn't Laugh?
That difference might be what actually gives Batman the advantage. If The Batman Who Laughs' visor gives him the ability to see people's darker side, then Batman's own arguably might give him the means to do the opposite. Batman's visor might allow him to detect a spark of good in his villainous counterpart. And if our Bruce can find a trace of the Bruce that Batman Who Laughs once was, it could be a weakness in the villain's façade that would signal his defeat.
But could it possibly mean even more? If Bruce can find some shred of good in such a dark and foreboding character, might it set the stage for an eventual Darth Vader-like redemption? Might it mean not his defeat, but possibly his reformation?
Probably not. It's worth bearing in mind that The Batman Who Laughs is from the Dark Multiverse, after all -- a multiverse whose worlds are corrupt at their core and destined for darkness. Redemption and reformation are anathemas to anyone from that side of reality, and The Batman Who Laughs is about as rotten as they come. So, turning him from evil is possible, yes, but not very likely.
It's also worth noting that the character is pretty popular just the way he is.
Batman's odds of success at swaying his foe aren't very good, but he did help save the entire multiverse from darkness already, so what's one villain in comparison? The battle continues in The Batman Who Laughs #5, on sale May 8.