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|“||When I was Bruce Wayne, I thought that with enough preparation, I would always win. But I was wrong. I was trapped in an unwinnable war, refusing to see the obvious answers right in front of me. The answers that are so clear to me now with victory right around the corner. To win, you need to adapt, and to adapt, you need to be able to laugh way all the restraints. Everything holding you back. You see... a Batman who laughs... is a Batman who always wins.||„|
|~ The Batman Who Laughs|
The Batman Who Laughs is a supervillain in the DC Comics universe. He is a "Jokerized" version of Batman who originated from the Dark Multiverse. He is the team leader of the Dark Knights and their goal was to help their master Barbatos plunge the whole Multiverse into complete and utter darkness. This course of action makes them enemies of the Justice League.
He serves as the secondary antagonist of the event Dark Nights: Metal, the eponymous main antagonist of The Batman Who Laughs seven issue miniseries, and one of the major characters alongside Lex Luthor in the Year of the Villain saga.
|“||Joker says that to accept that there's no meaning in your actions is to win. I say, to believe there is a meaning in all your actions is to win. That demon, what he says is that there is no meaning in your actions, therefore the only meaningful act is to win. He is the fear that we're both right, Joker and I. The fear that without any grander meaning, at heart we are cold, animalistic, selfish things.||„|
|~ Bruce Wayne about The Batman Who Laughs.|
The Batman Who Laughs seems to have a fixation on winning and believes he can always do so against his opponents because he had shed the self-imposed rules that restrained him from using more cruel and lethal methods in the past. Indeed, without his code holding him back, The Batman Who Laughs has been able to adapt to various situations and triumph against all sorts of remarkable odds. Laughs can also be quite arrogant, having already destroyed his own world and gaining knowledge from many others. He is also highly sadistic, with this aspect of him showing when he prevents the Grim Knight from killing Jim Gordon so he can experience a far crueler fate and comes to the Court of Owls with no intention but to "hear them all die screaming".
While he still is one of the evilest characters in the DC universe, it is assumed Bruce did not become a villain of his own free will. Therefore, he is more tragic than the Joker despite his evil surpassing his. When comes to his actions, the idea of a version of Batman having the Jokers twisted morality would mean that it is possible The Batman Who Laughs might toss good and evil aside to do what he thinks is best, which in this case means winning, since he thinks it is the only meaningful act. However, considering he managed to retained some of his previous mindset when it comes to his genius, Laughs may still have some sense of right and wrong as well. Although it would be very distorted.
Powers and Abilities
The Batman Who Laughs has all the training, discipline and experience of the Prime Earth Batman. Plus he already possesses all information about the strengths and weaknesses of pretty much every superhero and supervillain in the DC Universe, as he had already killed them in his own reality. He also has knowledge from various other worlds he has visited and can adapt to almost any situation. Couple all this with the fact that those born in the Dark Multiverse are extremely resistant to attacks by those from the central Multiverse makes The Batman Who Laughs immensely dangerous. Luckily, Laughs does have a few weaknesses of his own. He is highly vulnerable to both Nth Metal and Element X. Also, despite how different he has become, Laughs is still Batman and can be caught off-guard by situations Batman is not prepared for.
It is revealed in The Batman Who Laughs miniseries that Laughs has the ability to actually see peoples urges, which he can used to find what he himself desires. However, he needs to wear a visor made from Dark Metal in order to focus his senses and pinpoint what he is searching for.
The Dark Robins usually seen accompanying The Batman Who Laughs are a group of children that were presumably among the many Jokerized by the Joker after he killed their parents in an ally. Laughs later took them in and groomed them into animalistic "pets" that have seemingly lost most of their humanity. Because of this, the only word they know how to say is "crow" and will viciously attack and possibly devour anyone they are sent to hunt, unless The Batman Who Laughs or one of his allies tells them to heel by saying the word "bar".
The Damian Wayne of Earth -22 was also transformed into a Dark Robin. But unlike the other Robins, Damian is still capable of speech and retained his ability to think more rationally. He assisted his father in battling against the Gotham Resistance until he was killed by his Prime Earth counterpart using an arrow made from Nth Metal.
The Batman Who Laughs can apparently transform more children into Dark Robins should he choose to. He gave The Grim Knight a few Dark Robins who were all alternate versions of James Gordon Jr. from different worlds.
It appeared that Billy Batson of Prime Earth became a Dark Robin, after he was infected with Dark Matter by a special batarang during the Year of the Villain saga. However Billy might have just been in disguise in order to ambush Batman and Superman.
- He was created by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo.
- In Dark Knights: Metal issue 6, the Batman Who Laughs' fingers were amputated by the Joker. But during his appearances in comics since then, he still has them. It may be possible that he replaced them with prosthetics.
- The Batman Who Laughs represents Prime Earth Batman's fear of the Joker and his own madness.
- The Batman Who Laughs' name was taken from the silent films that helped inspire the creation of Batman and the Joker; The Bat and The Man Who Laughs.
- The Batman Who Laughs can be seen as the literal interpretation to one of Joker's longtime goals for Batman; to have the Dark Knight kill him and make Batman a murderer no better than himself. However, The Batman Who Laughs is perhaps far worse than what the Joker could expect from Batman of becoming like him.
- Indeed, even the Joker loathes The Batman Who Laughs to the point of refusing to accept him as a teammate in the Legion of Doom, quitting the Legion as a result. Furthermore, when referring to him, the Joker drops his usual joking demeanor and turns deathly calm and serious, without neither smiling nor laughing. That said, he still tried to transform Batman into his own version as he thought that the only way he could stop him was to become him.
- Most fans initially assumed that The Batman Who Laughs was blind because of the spiked visor which covers both his eyes while other believed that he just wore it because that contributed to his disturbing appearance. However, since the release of The Batman Who Laughs miniseries, it's explained that he uses it to focus his senses, and the spikes are not simply for show.
- According to The Batman Who Laughs, it was the death of the Commissioner Gordon on his world that caused him to hunt down and kill the Joker.
- The Batman Who Laughs is the only villain thus far that Batman has openly expressed an intention to kill.
- During his confrontation with the Gotham Resistance, The Batman Who Laughs claimed that the Harley Quinn of Earth -22 was his ally. However, as pointed out by Raven, this might of been a lie in an attempt to manipulate the Harley Quinn of Prime Earth. Considering that the Joker of Earth -22 killed all members of Batman's rogues gallery before Laughs killed him, it's possible that Raven was pretty right.
- The Batman Who Laughs was the winner of DC Comics' 2019 "Villain of the Year" award.