This is a reprint of The Batman Who Laughs #1, which tells the story of a Batman who’s infected by the Joker’s toxin and becomes the manifestation of his greatest fear: being like the Joker himself.
This character is based on a simple psychological equation: Batman retains his own determination to eliminate crime but with his own moral code switched with the Joker’s – in other words, now lacking a moral code as the Joker does.
This is a Batman who – as the result of the Joker’s toxin – now believes he can be more effective if he retires his previous rule, that he’d otherwise follow, of never killing.
For killing created the Batman and so the Batman killing would be a self-contradiction.
It’s an experiment with what happens when a character believes the same end can be justified by different, more extreme, means.
But the Batman Who Laughs then murders the entire human race, victim by victim, before travelling to the universe of the original Batman to do the same – for the simple reason of him being crazy.
Any philosophy he espouses is irrelevant because it’s all ultimately the ramblings of a madman affected by a chemical agent.
Yet, a large portion of the comic is about exploring his newfound worldview.
But it isn’t really a worldview, he’s just insane.
The character is presented complexly but is in fact deceptively simple.
The art’s like that, too: very highly-stylised but in the end telling a very simple story.
Still, the character of the Batman Who Laughs is an intriguing one and this story did make me interested to see how he could develop – which, according to a splash of text at the end – occurs in the Dark Nights: Metal: Dark Knights Rising graphic novel.